Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Audiobook Review: How the Duke Was Won by Lenora Bell

Series:     Disgraceful Dukes #1
Pub. Date:December 20, 2016
Publisher:Tantor Audio
Narrator:Beverley A. Crick
Length:9 hrs 46 min

I've heard a lot of good things about Lenora Bell, so I knew I had to give her a shot. When it was time for my holiday road trip, I grabbed her debut novel - How the Duke was Won. I had not read the synopsis prior the listening, so I have to say that I was surprised (pleasantly so) and the circumstances surrounding our two main characters.

Charlene Beckett is the illegitimate daughter of an earl and a courtesan, and was raised in a bawdy house after her father scraped off her expecting mother. But Charlene wants nothing to do with the wild lifestyle of dancing girls and pleasure houses. She is altruistic and seeks to play her own part in social reform by rescuing and educating young girls who would, otherwise, have to turn to the life of prostitution. So when she is presented with an offer to get started on these dreams, she really cannot refuse. All she has to do is impersonate her half-sister and snag a duke. Charlene was a good heroine. Even though she was impersonating a lady of leisure, she had the real world experience of poverty and tough choices. I liked that she couldn't quite smother her personality and wasn't afraid to speak out to the duke when she saw something wrong with a situation. She also had some unique talents that I thought were awesome, fun and quite practical for someone in her situation.

James, the Duke of Harland unexpectedly inherited his title after the death of his father and brother. He never wanted the title, preferring to work his cocoa plantation in the West Indies. James is also interested in certain social issues, namely slave labor. He is seeking a respectable wife for two reasons, and one of those is a business arrangement. James wasn't the typical stuffy duke, he was known to be a bit reckless and was referred to by the ton as His Disgrace. But I liked James quite a bit. He was both serious and passionate, but could also be a bit bull-headed. 

The first meeting between James and Charlene was a great meet-cute, and one that will be unforgettable for them both. I normally do not like deception in my romances, but I found that I didn't mind it here. Charlene was such a likable heroine, and she was really was between a rock and a hard place when it came to her options. She was also a perfect match to James' bull-headed nature. She wasn't afraid to stand up to him and make him rethink and revise his ways and ideas. James, in turn, was undeniably drawn to Charlene, no matter how hard he tried to push her away. His goal was to find an English Rose who could represent his interests, and she was the exact opposite of what he needed. At the end of the day, you sometimes have to follow your heart no matter what your head is saying.

Beverly Crick did a good job with this narration. Her character affectations were separate, distinct and believable. She conveyed the correct emotion whether it was frustration, fear or passion; and was able to hold my attention for the entirety of my road trip.

I voluntarily reviewed and advanced copy of this audiobook that I received from the publisher, Tantor Audio.

Disgraceful Dukes