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The Duke of Rockliffe is 36, handsome, wealthy and the epitome of gentlemanly elegance and good manners. He needs to find himself a wife, but unfortunately, he has yet to meet the lady who won't bore him witless. When an unscrupulous, spoiled débutante attempts to trap him into marriage, her plan goes awry when she is thwarted by her downtrodden cousin, Adeline - who becomes the recipient of Rockliffe's offer of marriage instead when the pair are discovered in a compromising position.
Adeline is no beauty, but there is something about her strength of character and defiantly waspish tongue that attracts the duke, and he is surprised to discover that he can make an offer of marriage to her with no misgivings. The wedding takes place quickly, but Adeline, taught by life to be cautious, is wary of revealing the depth of her feelings for him to her new husband, and asks for time to become accustomed to marriage before they consummate the union.
Not without difficulty, Rockliffe agrees, deciding to give Adeline the courtship she missed out on - but just as things seem to be going his way, Adeline's smarmy uncle tells her a secret about her past and threatens to reveal it to her husband if she doesn't pay him to keep quiet. This sets off a series of misunderstandings that threaten to spiral out of control, and it becomes difficult to see how things can ever be put right.
I'm not not wild about the Big Misunderstanding in romances, but I've been a fan of Stella Riley's for a long time, and I knew that she would make it work. The story gets very angsty, but she handles it extremely well, especially when it comes to Rockliffe, a man famous for his sang-found, but who finds himself getting closer and closer to the edge. All in all, the writing is intelligent and charming and the characterisation strong; there are a couple of sweet secondary romances along the way, as well as a mystery for Rockliffe to uncover in France. It's a terrific story, and is made even better by Alex Wyndham's superb performance. His interpretation of Rockliffe is spot on - he's unhurried, unruffled (until he isn't!) and does a brilliant job in conveying the tumult of emotion that is bubbling under the surface of his polished exterior.
The book has a fairly large cast of secondary characters, but Mr Wyndham rises to the challenge with aplomb, because every single one - whether male or female - is clearly delineated and easy to identify. I've listened to him a number of times now, and he is just getting better and better.
The Mésalliance is another must-listen for fans of this author and narrator combination and for fans of historical romance in general.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
What did you like most about The Mésalliance?
The characters have real depth - even the small parts - and you understand their motivations and can really engage with them emotionally. The historic period also 'lives' without sounding like a dull history lesson - you enjoy the background and it enhances the overall story.
Who was your favorite character and why?
Rockcliffe - of course - but also the heroine who manages to have character and wit and be a good foil to the hero. The cast of lesser characters also 'live' in their own right, as well as telling you things about the hero and heroine.
What about Alex Wyndham’s performance did you like?
His ability not to intrude himself onto the story while making every character live' in their own right. There is never a problem knowing who is talking and whether they are inwardly thinking or talking out loud and the women are women not high pitched-speaking wimps!
Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?
The part where Adeline sees Rock for the first time with his hair un-powdered (a scene nicely echoed in reverse a little later) and when Rock finally loses it at the end and displays his real feelings.
Any additional comments?
It is rare to run across a book where the characters have such depth and which combines humour and witty dialogue with a strong sense of period - overall a delight and highly recommended.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Awesome narrator! Impressive Duke. Heroine with too many secrets and mistrust in said Duke.
This started so well. Sure, the "compromise" was a bit contrived but it worked. The later part of the book bogged down way too much with keeping secrets and all of those ramifications. It became tiresome and I disliked Adeline a lot.
The saving grace was the narrator. I could listen to Alex Wyndham read a cereal box!
11 of 12 people found this review helpful
Would you try another book from Stella Riley and/or Alex Wyndham?
How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?
Minimized the misunderstandings
What does Alex Wyndham bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
Everything. He's great.
Was The Mésalliance worth the listening time?
Any additional comments?
This story had such great characters. For the first half of the book or so, it was great and showed great potential. Then, the author made a turn onto MISUNDERSTANDING LANE which happened to be a dead end. I can't understand why this particular misunderstanding consumed the entire second half of the book. It became tedious and repetitive.
The author could have shortened the book to bring the issue to a head faster or she could have exposed the reason for the misunderstanding and masterfully created a rouse to expose the villain which would have allowed a longer book without all of the angst. Rockliffe deserved so much better than what he got. I fell in love with his character in The Parfait Knight and I still love him. Adeline had potential at the beginning and I really liked her.. she was sharp tongued and charming but by the end, she was a shell of the character I fell in love with.
Of course every romance book has a HEA but be warned it'll come after chapters of tedium.
The narrator is AMAZING. No complaints about Alex Wyndham's performance. He's masterful. I could listen to him all day!
First half of the story: 5
Second half of the story: 1
Overall story: 3
14 of 16 people found this review helpful