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A Woman Entangled by Cecilia Grant

A Woman EntangledNarrated by Susan Ericksen

Barrister Nick Blackshear is the brother of Will Blackshear (A Gentleman Undone) and Martha Mirkwood (A Lady Awakened).  In A Gentleman Undone, Will got his own HEA and married a former courtesan – a completely disrespectable connection – while Nick had broken the relationship with his brother in an attempt to limit the damage to his own social standing, his career, and his political ambitions.

Kate Westbrook is the daughter of the son of an Earl and an actress. Because of her father’s “unfortunate” marriage, the elder Westbrooks had cut connections with Kate’s father and they had had no interaction for 23 years. Kate’s father is a barrister and is in chambers with Nick. He has been a mentor and friend to Nick for the previous three years.

Kate is beautiful. She’s not vain about it, but she’s not blind either and knows she’s lovely to look at. Kate has ambitions of restoring her family to their rightful place in society and, as part of that plan, she had written to her Aunt, the Countess of Harringdon, on each occasion of a birth, death, marriage, or engagement in the lofty family, in hopes of fostering a relationship. Kate has plans to make a good marriage and thus be in a position to bring her three sisters and her brother back to “respectability.”

Nick has had a tendre for Kate almost since meeting her but she discouraged him before he could raise his hopes very high. She is bound for a better marriage than to a mere Mr. who works for a living. She isn’t exactly a snob. Well, she kind of is, but she’s not terribly mean about it. All her life, she has felt the social stigma of her parent’s marriage. As much as her parents are deeply in love and their marriage extremely successful and happy, their decision to put love first, led to problems for Kate and her siblings. The situation is contrasted with Nick’s current near ostracisation – the fallout from Will and Lydia’s happy marriage is social disaster for the rest of the Blackshear family.

I found the story a little slow to start and the pacing overall was much the same. I liked the back half of the book better when there seemed to be a little more action. As a study of the hypocrisy of the ton, the book excels. Nick’s brother is a social pariah because he married a former courtesan. Because he dealt with her respectably, he and the rest of his family, were outcasts. But here’s the weird thing – if Will had merely kept Lydia as his mistress, all would have been fine. As the kids say these days, that’s whack.

Kate does manage to inveigle her way into the Countess of Harringdon’s parlor and various other social engagements and there she meets Miss Louisa Smith. Kate is beautiful but lacks social status; Louisa has the requisite social status but is not beautiful. Both are advised by the Countess not to look too far beyond themselves, given their respective shortcomings. For Kate, she advises a position as a Lady’s Companion and for Miss Smith, marriage but she is not to aim too high. It did bring home to me what an unpleasant society the ton often was.

I did struggle a little with Kate’s desire to associate with people who basically think her mother is a whore. I’m not sure I ever received a good answer to that. And I felt Kate’s motivations for her social climbing were not always clear. At first it was presented as her taking her rightful place in society and also assisting her younger siblings. Later it was presented as her desire to heal the breach between her father and the Earl. The first motivation was the least attractive and the least likely to be satisfied by a HEA with Nick. I kind of felt that the latter was inserted into the book to make the HEA more palatable.

I didn’t find Kate unlikeable – her saving grace was her self-awareness. She didn’t hide anything from herself. So, when she did something in furtherance of her goals, she was not blind to the way it might be perceived or the consequences of it. And she was not unmindful of the feelings of others.

Nick has been punished for having a brother with an unfortunate connection to the extent that it hardly seems to matter that he’d cut his brother off. As Nick ponders his own failings and the plain fact that he misses his brother, he makes changes.

As a romance, A Woman Entangled is a bit of a mixed bag. I didn’t quite catch what exactly changed on Kate’s part that made Nick suddenly attractive to her. I didn’t believe it was merely being together in the dark. Once the kissing started however, I was able to buy into the romance.

The narration is good but not outstanding. The characters weren’t terribly distinct to my ear, with only very subtle variations even between the male and female depictions and there were quite a few times when one voice bled into another making what distinctions there were, murky. So, for example, Nick would be talking to Kate and Kate’s voice would become Nick’s while she was still speaking her line, or Kate’s voice would bleed into the narrative voice.

The second love scene was superb however. Ms. Ericksen intoned the slow build of sexual tension, the leisurely exploration of each other’s bodies, the gradual rise to completion so very well. I am certain this scene was enhanced on audio and that the narrator brought something particularly special to this scene. It was so good in fact, that I didn’t even notice that having pre-marital sex seemed out of character for Kate and Nick (well, for Nick with Kate at least) – I just went with it.

Ms. Ericksen’s British accent is good and she keeps it up even in the general narrative. In The Spymaster’s Lady for example (Joanna Bourne – excellent book and audiobook), Kirsten Potter used an English accent for the appropriate characters and a French one for those from France. It bothered me that although there were no American characters in that story, Ms. Potter chose to use an American accent for the narrative. It jarred and took some getting used to. Here, Ms. Ericksen keeps the English accent and the story flows smoothly.

In the end, I’m left with mixed feelings about the book. I felt it was more a cerebral listening experience than one involving my emotions. But I did end up enjoying it, no matter the slowish beginning.

Kaetrin


Narration:  B

Book Content:  B-

Steam Factor:  Glad I had my earbuds in

Violence:  None

Genre:  Historical Romance

Publisher:  Tantor Audio

 

A Woman Entangled was provided to AudioGals for review by Tantor Audio.

7 comments

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  1. Caz

    I liked the book, but haven’t listened to the audio yet, and I suspect I will have similar issues with the narration. I’ve listened to A Lady Awakened and to Celeste Bradley’s Fallen recently, and while I enjoyed them on the whole, I did sometimes find that the hero’s and heroine’s voices weren’t always distinguishable. I confess I’m not 100% convinced that historical romances are Ms Ericksen’s forté – she’s rather too forceful at times, I think.

  2. Kaetrin

    @Caz I think she is a very talented narrator but she is somewhat “typecast” for me as I so closely associate her with the In Death books (JD Robb). The English accent helps me out a bit here because it does assist me in separating Eve and Roarke from the other books. You are right, there isn’t a huge differential between the male and female characters. I do think she can deliver nuance and softer tones though – that sex scene I referred to in the review was just excellent.

    1. Caz

      I’ve read similar comments about the typecasting, and I can certainly understand it. I speak as one who hasn’t heard the “In Death” books, so I’ve come to her fresh, as it were. I do think she’s a really good narrator and seeing her name as narrator certainly doesn’t put me off, as some do!

      1. Kaetrin

        I adore the In Death series and there are so many books that I have spent a lot of time listening to Ms. Ericksen. What surprises me is that she has such excellent character definition in the In Death series. I reviewed Innocent in Death here and mentioned that she had multiple multiple characters to vocalise in that book and she did such a superb job of it. As good as she is, I don’t think she does that as well outside of the In Death series – – I honestly can’t work out why – it’s very possible it’s a problem with my own ears! LOL.

  3. Lea

    I have listened to few of the In Death books so I don’t have the typecast problem you do Kaetrin. My first real experience with Ericksen’s narrations was Anne Stuart’s Rohan series and I thought she did a fantastic job. Yes, I sometimes mix up the male and female characters (something I’m very picky about) but not enough for me to enjoy the narrations less. Although I haven’t listened to A Woman Entangled, I just finished listening to Lorraine Heath’s Between the Devil and Desire with Ericksen as the narrator. I thought she did a great job.

    1. Kaetrin

      It’s strange that I never have that problem with an In Death book Lea – I can always tell who is speaking. Part of it is that the main characters are so well established I expect. I think she is an excellent narrator. I decided I was missing out too much not listening to her narrate non-In Death books, so I just had to work past my “typecasting problem”. :D

      1. Lea

        That’s an interesting point – I didn’t have that problem with the few In Death books I’ve listened to either. Hmmm. Maybe it’s the English accent thing. Anyway, I really enjoy her too, in case (HA!) I haven’t made that clear. :D

  1. When the Marquess Met His Match by Laura Lee Guhrke » AudioGals

    […] but I have to agree with Kaetrin who noticed her tendency to run her character voices together in A Woman Entangled by Cecilia Grant. Even though Belinda was American and female, and Nicholas British and male, there […]

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