Smite Turner is renowned for his single-minded devotion to his duty as a magistrate. But behind his relentless focus lies not only a determination to do what is right, but the haunting secrets of his past - secrets that he is determined to hide, even if it means keeping everyone else at arm's length. Until the day an irresistible woman shows up as a witness in his courtroom.
Miranda Darling isn't in trouble - yet. But she's close enough that when Turner threatens her with imprisonment if she puts one foot wrong, she knows she should run in the other direction. And yet no matter how forbidding the man seems on the outside, she can't bring herself to leave. Instead, when he tries to push her away, she pushes right back - straight through his famous self-control, and into the heart of the passion that he has long hidden away.
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Fantastic story, terrible narration!
I am returning this book less than halfway through, and buying the paperback instead. Courtney Milan is a fantastic writer and I am enjoying this story so far. I have a particular fondness for Milan's books that involve real (poor) people, rather than the aristocracy and their satellites. I lived in Bristol for a few years, and I am delighted to find that she has set this book there, and is not just another historical set in London (I am a Londoner but really, even I get bored with the same old clichés).
Milan's attention to detail is impeccable, and I am always surprised that for an American, she somehow manages to convey the tone and irony of English humour, as well as the understated grit and resilience. Milan's books are intelligent, and a cut above the average of this genre.As to this book, I am in love with Smite and Miranda already. They both have difficult backgrounds, Smite's particularly traumatic, but are very straightforward, non-manipulative people who really say what they mean.
I am switching over to reading rather than listening to the rest of this book, as I cannot bear for such a lovely piece of writing to be wrecked any further. I'm even going to leave it for a few weeks so that I can hopefully forget the awful narration. Nicole Quinn is an American who can do a passable English accent. One English accent. She has clearly never heard a gentle west country accent, because these characters sound nothing like Bristolian. The main two characters are ok (generic English accent), but everyone else sounds the same, with a bizarre harsh voice that sounds like they've been smoking ten packs a day for the last 40 years! There are some mispronunciations too, which wouldn't be so bad if one of those words wasn't GAOL. Instead of "jail" she reads this phonetically, and considering the storyline is a legal one involving the disappearance of a prisoner from the gaol, the word comes up ALL THE TIME! After the first 30 or 40 times, I just couldn't do it anymore. I am a huge audiobook listener, with somewhere between 400 and 500 books under my belt. I sometimes even listen to terrible books or terribly-read books all the way through because I don't like abandoning a book unfinished. I feel this book, however, is just too special to be ruined for me like this!
I have a particular dislike of books not being read by native readers. It seems to me a real waste of a book, especially one by somebody like Courtney Milan, who goes to so much effort to make her books accurate and authentic. I also think that when you have an intriguing well developed male lead, it is wonderful to use a male reader. Most writers of this genre really focus on the character development of the female character, and the male can end up a bit wooden. Off the top of my head, authors who write great males include Grace Burrowes, Lisa Kleypas and Elizabeth Hoyt. Fantastic male readers such as Alex Wyndham and James Langton bring such a wonderful depth to male leads, and they are a real pleasure to listen to. Smite is such an interesting creation, I can only imagine how amazing this audiobook could have been.
- D. Mark