Narrated by Lucy Rayner
It’s pretty near devastating when an audiobook you’ve been anticipating for months turns out to be pretty close to dreadful, but that’s just what happened with Minx, the third book in Julia Quinn’s Blydon trilogy. I know I went into this listen with extremely high hopes, having enjoyed Lucy Rayner’s narrations in the past, and being a huge fan of Ms. Quinn’s Bridgerton family series. However, it soon became apparent that neither the story nor the narration was going to live up to my expectations.
Henrietta Barrett is not unlike a hundred heroines I’ve seen before. She doesn’t give two figs for society’s dictates, balls and fashion don’t interest her at all, and she prefers to be called Henry. This type of heroine usually thrills me since they are normally quite witty and self-reliant with a blatant disregard for society’s rules that makes them ever-so lovable, but Henry came across as overly petulant and opinionated with a very inflated view of her own importance. She manages the estate of her elderly guardian very well, something that has obviously gone to her head. She’s supposedly beloved by the staff even though her temper tantrums should have branded her a shrew long ago. I simply couldn’t understand what made her so likable to those around her.
William Dunford is one of those heroes determined never to marry. He enjoys living the high life in London, relatively free of obligation. He’s quite stunned to learn he’s inherited a title complete with a piece of property in Cornwall which he reluctantly agrees to visit. When he arrives, he learns he has a ward who is not at all pleased with his presence on the land she considers hers. She’s determined to run him off, and he’s just as determined not to allow it.
This could have proven to be a delightful battle of wills, the kind of thing Ms. Quinn is well-known for. Unfortunately, it turned out to be more of a farce. Henry and William are at cross purposes almost throughout the entire novel, something I became frustrated with pretty early on. I was hoping things would change when they began to fall for one another, but their feelings seemed to drive them apart rather than draw them together. We’re supposed to believe William is charmed by Henry’s childish willfulness and impetuous actions, and that William’s stuffy level-headedness helps Henry to relax and grow into the woman she was always meant to be, but I was unable to buy into it. It just felt like I was witnessing pointless conflict after pointless conflict with little to no sense of resolution, let alone actual accord between the leads.
When I first listened to Ms. Rayner several years ago, I was struck by her subtle but accomplished narration style, so imagine my surprise when her performance here turned out to be quite disastrous. Her depiction of Henry put me in mind of a prepubescent child, rather than a slightly immature young lady of marriageable age. There was no way I could think of her as anyone’s love interest. The written description and Ms. Rayner’s depiction just didn’t match up, something that’s pretty unforgivable in romance audio.
Her portrayal of William wasn’t quite so bad, but neither was it great. It seemed like Ms. Rayner tried to deepen her voice too much, giving him an overly gravelly sound which grated on my ears a time or two. Still, it did fit the character better than her portrayal of our heroine.
I’m not sure Ms. Rayner really understands the nuances listeners of romance audio have come to expect. It didn’t seem like she really “got” the story. Some of the more emotional scenes fell flat, and I cringed when I heard her portrayal of the more intimate moments. Granted, she didn’t have overly stellar material to work with, but I flat out expected more.
Listeners looking for a story that sparkles like the author’s later works and a narration that brings the novel to life are bound to be disappointed in Minx. If you are a die-hard fan who must read everything Ms. Quinn has written, you’d be better off picking this up in print.
Book Content: D
Steam Factor: Glad I had my earbuds in
Violence Rating: Minimal
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Harper Audio
Minx was provided to AudioGals by Harper Audio for a review.