Isadora (“Izzy”) Temple is a kind of Cinderella. Orphaned at age 12, she was taken in by her aunt Hildegarde, a woman perennially jealous of Izzy’s mother. Izzy is put to work in the house and constantly told she’s plain and unattractive. Therefore, she expects to be single all her life and has a dream to immigrate to the American colonies and there forge a happy, if solitary, life for herself. At a house party, Izzy is having the most glorious sex dream, only to wake and find out that it is not a dream at all. Lord Eppingham Julian Blackworth has mistakenly taken a right instead of a left and joined her in bed. As you would expect, she screams and fellow guests come running and there is a scandal, which results in their betrothal.
Julian isn’t keen on marrying the “plain Jane” he hasn’t even seen before (it was dark and then he was unconscious and then she was gone) but is being forced to do his duty or risk his inheritance. When Izzy proposes a “fake betrothal”, he is relieved but as he becomes increasingly delighted by her wit, her forthrightness, and her engaging laugh, he starts to rethink that plan. When he sees Izzy dolled up for her first ball (think Cinderella but not pumpkin at midnight), he’s rethinking it even more.
The first part of Fallen is quite delightful actually – the slow bloom of attraction between the pair and the way they enjoy laughing at absurdity together. But then it devolves into a “Big Misunderstanding” trope, which is generally one I loathe. I don’t see why people can’t just talk to one another rather than leaping to the most ridiculous conclusions available. At times I wondered, “Now how did you come up with that?” because the erroneous conclusion didn’t coincide with the known facts at all.
There is a compelling subplot involving Izzy’s friend Celia and her evil husband which got quite scary at one point. But then the Big Mis just kept rolling on. One after the other after the other until right at the end when THEY HAVE A CONVERSATION (how novel). The ending had me raising my eyebrows in terms of laws and historical accuracy as well.
I’m used to hearing Susan Ericksen narrate J.D. Robb’s In Death series. I’ve said before that she’s largely typecast for me – I can’t help hearing Eve and Roarke et al when I hear her read. Here, she uses a British accent for most of the characters and that does serve to differentiate them to some degree. That, and the historical setting helped a little as well. But Julian’s father sounded a lot like an English Commander Whitney (but not as nice) and Timothy, the stablehand, had Roarke’s lilt absolutely.
Nevertheless, I’ve decided I must get over this because Ms. Ericksen is such a good narrator I will miss out otherwise. I will say, however, that she cannot do a Scottish accent. It is Irish all the way baby.
Apart from the non-Scottish accent and a few times when the male voices and the female voices morphed into each other making it difficult to tell who was speaking (fortunately this didn’t happen often), the narration is very good. The male depictions are more a tone thing rather than a true deepening of pitch and Hildegard sounded like the dragon/evil stepmother type she was. I’m planning to give Ms. Ericksen more room in my audio library and not just with the In Death books because her characterizations are that good. Unfortunately with Fallen, the last half of the story let her down a bit.
Book Content: C
Steam Factor: Glad I had my earbuds in
Violence: Minimal/some domestic violence (not the hero/heroine)
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Tantor Audio
Fallen was provided to AudioGals by Tantor Audio for review.