I can’t think of many people who would argue the fact that romance and suspense go well together. A good blend of the two can result in a riveting listen. Unfortunately, Jennifer McQuiston’s Moonlight on My Mind did not live up to my expectations for such a listen, which I must admit were heightened a bit by the historical setting.
Julianne Baxter is a beautiful young woman who captivates and scandalizes London society. She is quite the flirt, barely managing to stay within the bounds of propriety. She wants to make an advantageous match. When we first meet her at a house party, she’s zeroed in on the eldest son of the Earl of Haversham, but Eric doesn’t seem to notice her. So, she shows his younger brother some attention, hoping to make Eric jealous and force him to agree to marry her.
Patrick Channing, second son of the Earl of Haversham, is well aware of the game Julianne is playing. Still, he agrees to dance with her, and even goes so far as to kiss her before taking his leave. Eric definitely does notice, but this doesn’t result in his marriage to Julianne. Instead, Eric is murdered the next morning, and Patrick is accused of committing the crime.
The action really picks up eleven months later when Julianne goes to Scotland in search of Patrick. Since Eric’s death, she’s had a lot of time to dwell on the part she played in the whole affair. She is not convinced of Patrick’s guilt, and feels a great deal of remorse about speaking to the Magistrate and giving evidence that led almost everyone to believe Patrick had killed his elder brother. She wants to find Patrick, apologize for her role in things, and encourage him to come home.
Patrick wants nothing to do with Julianne. When he sees her in the small town in which he has taken up residence, he is far from pleased. She brings news of his father’s death and urges him to return to his family estate, pledging to help him in whatever way she can. Patrick can only think of one way. Since Julianne is the only witness to what happened on the morning of his brother’s death, he decides to marry her. This way, she cannot be compelled to testify against him.
Narrator Lana J. Weston’s performance was slightly above average. I was pleased by her depictions of most of the characters. She deepened her voice slightly when speaking for male characters, but it wasn’t deep enough to sound silly or forced. She also employed a variety of British and Scottish accents to ensure the listener always knew who was speaking.
My main complaint has to do with Weston’s depiction of Julianne. True, I found our heroine to be a difficult person to like, but Weston’s narration didn’t help her cause. Julianne is given a high-pitched voice that I found grating on several occasions. Normally, Weston speaks in a cultured, well-modulated tone, so hearing her speak in such a shrill manner was more than a little distracting. McQuiston paints Julianne as a headstrong young woman, determined to right the wrongs she had committed. Weston doesn’t allow us to see any of her redeeming qualities. Instead, I ended up thinking of her as a spoiled, reckless brat.
I found it difficult to believe in the romance between Patrick and Julianne. I would have to place the blame more on the writing than the narration. There was no real development of their feelings for one another. However, even if such development had been written, I doubt Ms. Weston would have been able to make it believable. Conversations between the two always sounded stilted, even if the text reflected something totally different.
Apparently, Moonlight on My Mind is third in a series. When I looked at synopses of the other two books, I was surprised to find them to be straight historical romance. There didn’t seem to be any hint of mystery. Not having read the previous two books did not impede my understanding of the plots and characters in this one.
The book had quite a good suspense element running through it. Julianne is determined to help Patrick clear his name. However, I must admit to being less than satisfied with the resolution. I was suspicious of the villain about halfway through the book.
If Julianne had not been so shallow and self-absorbed, and if Patrick had been less sulky and indignant, I might have enjoyed the story more. Regretfully, I can only call it average.
Book Content: C
Steam Factor: Glad I had my earbuds in
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Harper Audio
Moonlight on My Mind was provided to AudioGals for review by Harper Audio.