Narrated by Kate Reading
It was a great day in the audiobook section of Romancelandia when the announcement was made that Lord of Scoundrels was finally to be released in this format. When I found out that Kate Reading was narrating, I swear I heard angels sing. It is a perfect match between text and the narrator and I spent most of the listen in a kind of happy daze. (You can listen to sound samples here.)
Lord of Scoundrels is a classic in the romance genre. It regularly tops polls for favourite romance ever and it was one of the early books I read when I got back into romance a few years ago. I didn’t realise then how genre-busting and subversive it actually is. Now, looking back on it from a position of far greater experience in the genre (although I am still a newbie compared to some of the people around the place), I can see where Jessica Trent is so very different form the everyday Regency heroine. I adore her.
For a start, she is 27 – veritably on the shelf. She is smart and doesn’t try to hide it. She has little interest in marriage because she knows that legally speaking, it means her husband owns her. In fact, when she is bantering with the Marquis of Dain at one point, they explicitly discuss this fact. As it happens, when they’re having this discussion there is a wonderful subtext which makes the conversation a kind of foreplay. When I first read the book I didn’t get that subtext. Listening, I absolutely did.
Kate Reading has a lovely, kind of deepish, kind of strident voice which is perfect for Jessica. She is a no-nonsense miss and no ingénue. While she is a virgin, she is not innocent – thanks to her wonderful grandmother, the outrageous, wise, and sexually adventurous Genevieve.
Ms. Reading deepens her voice further for Dain and adds a bit of husk. She absolutely nails his gruff tones and his complete cluelessness when it comes to Jessica. He is so delightfully besotted and so entirely out of his depth when it comes to the finer emotions.
The first part of the book sets up the audience to feel empathy for the unloved child Dain was, the monster he saw himself to be (and still does). So, when we meet him all grown up and being all about the debauchery, we are less inclined to judge him harshly. When Jessica comes to Paris to try and rescue her brother, Bertie, from Dain’s evil clutches, she is surprised to find herself viscerally attracted to him. They butt heads over Bertie and even as Jessica tries to negotiate with Dain to get her brother out of trouble and out of debt, their inescapable attraction meets Dain’s loveless past and it all combines to mean ruin and the longest misunderstanding of the novel (which is, thankfully, not terribly long). It also sets up one of the most iconic scenes in romance and demonstrates again why Lord of Scoundrels is so delightfully subversive.
Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not a big fan of misunderstandings in romance novels (or any novel really). Here, the misunderstandings are, for the most part, dealt with quickly and Jessica is wise to realise that, even when she feels hurt by things that Dain does, it most probably doesn’t have anything to do with her. How often do you see that in a romance novel? *Adore*
Essentially, the novel is Dain’s journey from unloved to loved and thus, he learns how to love, as Jessica leads the demonstration.
The banter is the best part of this book. The back and forth between Jessica and Genevieve, Jessica and Bertie, Bertie and Dain, and Jessica and Dain. It’s all wonderful. I enjoyed it even better in audio format than in print and I loved it in print.
I first heard Kate Reading’s narration in Lois McMaster Bujold’s excellent Paladin of Souls (here’s my review). If possible, her performance was even better here. The joy of the book is in the snappy dialogue and the subtext of emotion underlying it. Kate Reading absolutely nails this every single time.I cannot fault this narration. Let me put it this way – she’s giving Nicholas Boulton a run for his money.
I can’t recommend this book enough. Get thee to an audiobook retailer. Stat.
Book Content: A
Steam Factor: Glad I had my earbuds in
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Lord of Scoundrels was provided to AudioGals for review by Blackstone Audio.