Narrated by Alexander Cendese
It’s been a long time since I have read a Danielle Steel novel, and given that I love romantic suspense, the minute I saw the blurb for Undercover, I knew I couldn’t pass it up. However, to my great surprise, this title really boasted neither significant amounts of romance nor suspense. Instead it really read more like general fiction, focusing more on the character’s individual backgrounds and the evolution of their character traits. In fact, the hero and the heroine don’t even meet until way beyond the mid-way point of the book. And the romance is quickly resolved in the last hour or so of the listen.
This alone is not necessarily problematic. However, when you combine it with the fact that the blurb really gives away nearly all of the information that could have been woven into a suspenseful plot, it means that you know exactly what is going to happen well into the first two-thirds to three-quarters of the book. This factor is a large driver of the lower book grading.
Notwithstanding this predictability, however, I did feel that a lot of the pieces of a great romantic suspense title were present, and the individual backgrounds of each character, while a bit lengthy, did generally flow well, and led to the development of complex character profiles laying the groundwork for a potentially intriguing and satisfying listen. If only the blurb had been revamped to avoid giving away spoilers and instead tailored to add to the suspense, and the sequencing of this story revamped to tell the present with flashbacks of the past, I think my grade would have been quite a bit higher. A more developed ending and attention to the development of the romance would have have also led to a higher rating.
Whereas I don’t want to give away too much background and ruin the story for you, I will say that the two profiles explored in this book are that of a DEA agent, who has been affected by his long periods of going undercover, and the survivor of a lengthy kidnapping who was brainwashed and suffers from a form of Stockholm Syndrome. Discovering their true identities and learning how to live again, in what should be their realities, is what ultimately brings this unlikely pair together, even as their past lives continue to intersect causing them to brave new dangerous circumstances.
Alexander Cendese does a great job of narrating this story. As the story is generally told from the third person perspective, Mr. Cendense’s role as narrator has a little more of a reporter feel than a performer feel, which is what I am generally more accustomed to in my audiobook listens. Nonetheless, this tone and approach fits well with the writing style employed by Ms. Steel in Undercover. Additionally, Mr. Cendese does vary his delivery a bit at certain crucial points in the novel which helped heighten the effect of these scenes.
Moreover, Mr. Cendese’s natural voice sounds like he could be a government agent, so his delivery had the added effect of matching the traits of the hero (and a number of the secondary characters, who are also government agents). Of course, this tone is less befitting of the heroine’s character, but again as the story is told in a third person narrative style, having Mr. Cendese as the solo narrator works generally well.
I suggest if you are going to listen to this book, that you avoid reading the blurb for maximum enjoyment. Fortunately, the above average narration does make this title a good choice to experience in audio format.
Book Content: C
Steam Factor: Glad I had my earbuds in
Violence Rating: Fighting
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Brilliance Audio
Undercover was provided to AudioGals by Brilliance Audio for a review.
AudioGals earns commissions on purchases made through links to Amazon.com in this post.