I read The Dream Hunter in print a few years ago. It doesn’t hold the special place in my heart which Flowers from the Storm (my first Kinsale) holds, but I remember enjoying it very much. When I was offered the opportunity to review the audio version, I jumped at the chance – not least because it is very possible Nicholas Boulton has the sexiest voice in the universe.
Arden Mansfield, Lord Winter has a raging case of wanderlust. When his father, the Earl of Belmaine, nixes his plans to travel to the South Pole, he accepts a commission from some horse enthusiasts to locate and bring to England, a horse known as the String of Pearls – reputedly the fastest horse in all the world.
In Arabia, Zenia Stanhope has just lost her mother, the famous Hester Stanhope. When Lord Winter pays his respects at the funeral of Hester, he comes across “Selim” a Bedouin youth who is clearly grieving his loss. Of course, it is Zenia. Hester required her to dress this way and it is convenient for Zenia to let Arden believe this is the case as she has heard his low opinion of women. Zenia’s greatest wish is to travel to England and find her father, Michael Bruce. She wants nothing to do with the desert.
The portion of The Dream Hunter set in Arabia is the best part of the book. It’s where Arden and Zenia build a friendship and struggle together across the red sands, nearly dying in the process.
There then comes a period of separation and they meet again in England. Arden is not one for small talk and struggles with the social niceties. He is a solitary man and has difficulty expressing himself unless he is pretending to be someone else. Arden has been away so long and he doesn’t recognize this Zenia of the black bombazine gowns and layers of petticoats. Zenia does not want to be left alone, has no wish for adventure, and does not believe Arden will ever stay. She would rather have pain now than to love him and for him to leave her later (which never made sense to me because I don’t think that way).
The latter part of The Dream Hunter was somewhat frustrating to me. If the couple had only talked to each other about their fears and desires, things could have been resolved so much earlier. But the fact is, Arden and Zenia just aren’t the type to act in that fashion. Each, for different reasons, is reticent and shy of emotional confession.
Nicholas Boulton’s characterizations were again, wonderful and I found myself more in sympathy with the characters than I had been before – still somewhat frustrated, but more understanding in general. His narrative voice manages to bring the desert to life in a way that is greater than the words on the page.
I have a very soft spot for Lord Winter – a man who looked everywhere to find the someone who would ground him and make him feel at home. The quality of the audiobook production is superb, the sound crisp, the voices for each character distinct and perfect. I really am delighted that these wonderful books are being released in audio and I cannot express how happy I am that Ms. Kinsale took such special care to bring us audiobook lovers such a wonderful narrator as Nicholas Boulton.
Book Content: B/B+
Steam Factor: Glad I had my earbuds in
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Hedgehog, Inc.
The Dream Hunter was provided to AudioGals for review by Hedgehog, Inc.