IDK how I'll end up rating this book but I don't recall being as conflicted yet...absorbed? confused? about the MCs & this type of storyline since Private Arrangements by Sherry Thomas. Huge upside = well-written, so straight-forward, fast read for me. May stay up late to finish b/c need to know if suspicions re: certain plot points are correct. :)
I hadn’t had much luck w/ audiobooks in recent years so was thrilled to discover Moira Quirk, narrator for the Darkest London series by Kristen Callihan. Then a kind soul in a certain HR group mentioned that Ms. Quirk also narrated Elizabeth Hoyt’s Prince Trilogy. It had been a while since I read that series so figured to kill 2 birds w/ 1 stone by doing a re-read via audio.
I remember liking ‘The Raven Prince’ well enough (after all, I continued to read the subsequent books) so the story itself would probably fall around 3-3.5. IMO, it's still one of the better Beauty & Beast storylines, with sympathetic main characters & a varied cast of likeable secondary characters. Altho certain things didn't ring true for the Georgian period, I tried to overlook most by repeating the mantra 'country life is more informal'. And last but certainly not least, the sexual content of this book was much franker/more explicit than I remembered. *grins*
However, I ended up *loving* ‘The Raven Prince’ due to Ms. Quirk’s narration. Granted, I don’t have as many ABs ‘under my belt’ as some of my friends but IMHO, the term ‘voice actor’ truly does apply to Ms. Quirk. She is simply fantastic at breathing life into both general narrative and dialogue, as well as maintaining sufficient tonal differences to make dialogue easily discernible, especially amongst several characters. IDK why but her diction & cadence/inflection suit my ears perfectly.
To the ever-lasting bafflement/frustration of TPB in publishing, I suppose that opinions & preferences re: AB narrators are probably just as personal & quirky as those for books in general. Having made serious efforts in recent months to incorporate ABs into my reads, I’ve come to realise that I prefer narrators w/ natural inflection and somewhat normal talking speed. (Frex, Davina Porter is another fabulous narrator but Good Lord, it would’ve taken me months to re-read the Outlander series via audio. The books are long enough but tack on audio format + her narration speed? Alas, ’twas the unfortunate kiss of death for me.) And yes, I may have a minor bias towards UK-accented English. :)
Have never read Hoyt’s Prince Trilogy or it’s been a while since you read it? If you haven't listened to any of Ms. Quirk's voice works, I strongly recommend that you give ‘The Raven Prince’ a go via audio.
GENRE: PNR; Steampunk
LENGTH: 432 (MMP pgs)
HEAT LEVEL (content): sexy-hot (m/f vanilla; frank but not overly explicit/extended)
PUBLISHER/pub date: Forever (GCP/Hachette); August 2014
SERIES INFO (timeline): Darkest London #5 (@ 1yr after end of #4)
FORMAT (source): MMP (own); Audio (borrow)
Once the night comes...
Will Thorne is living a nightmare, his sanity slowly being drained away by a force he can’t control. His talents have made him the perfect assassin for hire. But as he loses his grip on reality, there is no calming him—until he finds his next target: the mysterious Holly Evernight.
Love must cast aside the shadows...
Holly cannot fathom who would put a contract on her life, yet the moment she touches Will, the connection between them is elemental, undeniable—and she’s the only one who can tame his bouts of madness. But other assassins are coming for Holly. Will must transform from killer to protector and find the man who wants Holly dead...or his only chance for redemption will be lost.
Still captivated by the narrating skills of Moira Quirk, I barely touched my DTB copy & continued with this series via audio. Thus, 4-star rating is influenced by my listening experience. If I were to rate the story on its own, it would be more 3-3.5 stars.
Overall, I did enjoy this installment of the Darkest London series but it fell a bit flat, especially after a 5-star reading (listening) of the previous book, Shadowdance. Unlike in earlier books, I found some diversions from the main storyline to be more disruptive than necessary. And plot-wise, there were more than a few weak and/or unaddressed points (some due to minor instances of deus ex machina). This resulted in a vague feeling of dissatisfaction with the dénouement of both the action/mystery and the romance. And the final (tiny) nail in coffin was a personal pet peeve: even with certain open items, the epilogue dealt with the next book/couple, as opposed to wrapping up things re: Will and Holly. :/
Nonetheless, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this book (and entire series) to PNR/steampunk fans. And despite loss of some momentum re: series, I already got & listened to the next book, Soulbound, which was released on 24-Feb-2015.
Oh man, why can't I listen faster?! LOL/*smh*
This series continues to progress in strong fashion, with this book #5 picking up @ 1yr after book #4, ‘Shadowdance’. I’ve been too busy reading this series to pause for anything other than quick posts on GR or verbal chit-chat IRL, so may post an abbreviated ‘series in review’ soon. Unless *cough* waylaid due to reading ‘Soulbound’, #6 which is due out today :)
In meantime, here’s a tidbit from ‘Evernight’... Be well, everyone!
“I’m going to…” She cleared her throat. “I shall rub you down, thoroughly concentrating on each area. Hopefully, it will slow the progress of the metal more effectively than simply putting my hand upon your chest.”
A slow, wide grin pulled at his lips. “Let me see if I have this correctly,” he said, struggling not to crow, “you are going to rub your hands all over my body…”—she narrowed her eyes in distaste, which only made his grin reach epic proportions—“slowly and thoroughly—”
“Really, Mr. Thorne.”
“While my part in it is to lie here and take it?” His cheeks ached from smiling. “Is that the plan?”
By the time she’d finished with him, with a little encouraging pat and a request that he rest quiet like a good lad, there was no point in denying it: Holly Evernight would be the death of him.