It had been so long since I read My Sweet Folly that I only really remembered that it begins with an exchange of delightful letters, so listening to the audiobook felt much like rediscovery.
Folie Hamilton is the young second wife of an older man. When she responds to some correspondence from her husband’s second cousin in India, one Robert Cambourne, it is initially because she knows her husband will not and she feels it is only polite. The post was vastly slow in the early 1800s, of course, so it takes many months for a reply. But over the course of a few years, they develop a deep regard, even love, for one another. When Folie’s husband dies, the response she receives from Robert is unexpected and crushing and their correspondence ceases.
Some years later, Robert has returned to England from India and has taken on the mantle of guardian to Folie’s stepdaughter Melinda who is now aged 18 and ready for her coming out season. Robert acts very strangely – are his feelings of persecution paranoia? Or, as they say, is it really paranoia if people are actually after you? There are plot twists and turns along the way to a HEA for Folie and Robert – through it all, the affection that began in their early correspondence doesn’t fade or waver.
It is a different book. Part of me, as I listened, noted that in some ways it is genre-busting. There are very few love scenes and mostly they are toward the end of the book. It fit the story but it is unusual. Perhaps the most unusual thing about the book is Robert himself – he is not your average hero. He very much has feet of clay. There are reasons for it and I had a great deal of sympathy for him, but he is not someone who strides through life supremely confident in his ability and himself. He is terribly vulnerable and not always nice or honorable (particularly earlier in the story).
I can’t say it is my favorite Kinsale. But I found myself, as I listened, longing for a print/digital book which had the same richness of language, the same lush atmosphere. I have been on a contemporary binge in my reading lately but I think I will be heading for a historical next up and I lay this all at the feet of My Sweet Folly. There is something about it which puts me in mind of sinking into a soft bed with down comforters up round the ears – rich comfort.
Nicholas Boulton is superb. After listening to four of his Kinsale narrations, I have only come up with one criticism. That is, if one were to listen to them all close together, one would find that the hero voice is basically the same and so too is the heroine voice. (I have Prince of Midnight on my TBL – I believe the hero there has an accent so I expect his voice will be different). But that’s it. And really, as criticisms go, there’s not much in it.
He has a vast array of character voices available to him and I can’t say I disapprove of the ones he uses for the heroine and hero. The female voice (most particularly for the main character) doesn’t sound “female” to me as such but it is not drag-y and it works to differentiate the cast and succeeds as shorthand for heroine. The other female characters, especially the older ladies, sound much more authentic in my opinion. And again, not at all drag-y.
Mr. Boulton does some wonderful accents – various British regional dialects (as well as classes) and also a French one in this book. Each character felt distinct and well realized. He has such a beautiful voice to listen to and there were some particular lines in My Sweet Folly which seemed incredibly intimate spoken directly into my ears – or at least it felt that way – one could be forgiven for getting the occasional shiver.
I do recommend the Kinsale/Boulton books be spread out a bit – the similarities in some of the voices are less obvious that way and, like a fine wine, they can be better savored anyway.
Book Content: B
Steam Factor: Glad I had my earbuds in (but at the tamer end)
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Hedgehog, Inc.
My Sweet Folly was provided to AudioGals for review by Hedgehog, Inc.