Narrated by Ashford MacNab
I love stories that transcend class to prove that we are all equal irrespective of the luck of the particular station in life in which we were born to. Darling Beast is a spectacular example of this adage. It presents us with a timeless, beautiful romance with just a touch of suspense to keep the story exciting. Additionally, Ashford MacNab delivers a spellbinding rendition, making this a great book to experience in audiobook format.
As this is the seventh book in the Maiden Lane series, it is worth noting that it can be read on a stand-alone basis. In fact, this is the first book that I have ever read of Elizabeth Hoyt’s. Why did I wait this long? This is one incredibly talented writer that I plan to explore more books from soon.
Apollo Greaves, Viscount of Kilbourne is in hiding. After spending countless years in jail for three murders he didn’t commit, he has escaped from Bedlam. Even if it means no longer living the life of luxury he had once enjoyed, Apollo is determined to stay under the radar in order to ensure his continued freedom. He finds the solace of anonymity in a rundown pleasure garden he has invested in with his remaining funds. He hopes to secretly act as its architect (under the guise of being an ordinary gardener) and restore its former beauty, so that he may generate sufficient funds to live on.
His escape, however, was not without its physical scars. Having lost his voice in a brutal beating he received at the hands of the prison guards, he is sure he will never be viewed again as the strong virulent, upper class man he used to be. Instead of letting this circumstance devastate him though, he actually uses it to his advantage by aiding his ruse that he is a simple man, thereby concealing his true identity.
What he never counted on was Lily Stump. Lily has had her own fair share of adversity. Once an up and coming star in London’s theatres, Lily’s move to a new theatre that burned down shortly thereafter, leaves her with no job. Her previous boss, unhappy with her departure, blackmails her, assuring that no one in the city will ever hire her again. Penniless and needing to provide for her young son, she moves into the burned down theatre adjoining the pleasure garden.
When her young son spots the “beast” who lurks in the gardens, Lily becomes instantly afraid and tracks him down in an attempt to get him to leave. Little by little, however, they get to know one another, not the persona that they portray to the public, but their true selves. Inevitably passion reigns and that, combined with Apollo’s fierce protective instincts towards Lily’s son, merge to ignite that passion with dreams of a future. However, Apollo is still a fugitive and always will be unless he can prove his innocence. Moreover, there is also more than meets the eye underlying Lily’s background as well. When these two factors end up colliding, who will Apollo choose – the absolution that he has dreamed of since the day he was falsely imprisoned or the love of his life?
This was my first experience with Ashford MacNab, and she deeply impressed me. Not only does she have a beautiful enchanting voice that drew me right into the story, but she also displayed an impressive mastery of many of the elements that I look for in a great narration. She created both genuine female and male voices of which Lily’s was my favorite. Just from her rendition, I could easily imagine Lily being the grand, beautiful actress that she once was. I loved how she varied Lily’s speech to fit the mood of the particular scene being enacted. For example, there were several scenes in which Lily was tasked with impressing a producer in order to gain a part, and you could instantly hear how she infused her voice with a more flirty, diva-like quality.
Additionally, for the most part, she did a great job of adapting her tone to the particular character’s personality traits. From Lily’s handmaid, who sounded like a British woman of a serving class, to Lily’s son, who had just the right youthful quality, she sounded true to each character’s role. I did, however, note a couple of minor characters that did not completely match the author’s descriptions. For instance, there is a villain who is described as having a smooth deceptively beautiful voice, but he instead had a sinister quality to his speech, and a young woman, who sounded more like a simple minded, young child. Absent these minor inconsistencies, the narration was a solid A performance.
I am a huge fan of novels where the underdog reigns victorious in the end. This story warmed my heart and kept me engaged rooting for the hero and heroine! Moreover the talented narration kept me enraptured in listening to this story to its conclusion.
Book Content: A-
Steam Factor: For your burning ears only
Violence: Domestic Violence
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Hachette Audio
Darling Beast was provided to AudioGals by Hachette Audio for review.