Saturday, 6 May 2017

#CBR9 Book 40: "Dukes Prefer Blondes" by Loretta Chase (now in audio)

Page count: 384 pages
Audio book length: 12hrs 11 mins
Rating: 4.5 stars

My first review of this book can be found here. It was the very first book I read in 2016 and having revisited it, I have decided that I may in fact have overly strict with my rating of it. Since I already recounted the plot and gave a thorough analysis for my feelings about the book there, that's the place to go if you're curious about what the book is about. This review will be more about my re-read and the audio book experience.

After finishing Where Dreams Begin, where (SPOILER) the heroine is struck down with typhoid fever for no particularly good reason (seriously, the couple are already married and don't need any sort of complications in the way to their HEA), I remembered how much better I thought that storyline was done in this book. I have recently realised that a trope I will almost always adore is one of the parties nursing the other one back to health. If it's the hero doing the nursing, so much the better. See also, The Hating Game, my very favouritest romance of last year. Since this book has Raven patiently and stubbornly nursing Clara through weeks of horrible illness, as well as a lot of wonderful banter from two very intelligent protagonists, it really should have rated higher for me.

What with the world going to hell around us (I'm so very lucky that I live in Norway, where things are much better than most places right now, but I still can't entirely ignore the news of the world around me) and me being in a rather emotionally fraught place at the moment, I've also been in a bit of a reading slump this year. I have an absolutely monstrous work load, which doesn't give me as much time as I'd like to read and relax. Additionally, there are a lot of things to stress me out not just on a global scale, but closer to home, that's causing me to be in a rather fraught place emotionally at present. Hence the revisiting old favourites in audio book form. While this is Ms. Chase's most recent novel (and sadly, there are no signs of her having another one out soon), I remembered it as one of her best in years, and I was glad to discover that I was not wrong, and that I might in fact like it even more upon my re-read.

As with all the other Loretta Chase audio books, this one is narrated by Kate Reading, who pretty much always does an excellent job and whose arch British accent seems very appropriate to these period romances. She's great at various accents, too, though, be they working class or foreigners and even with a variety of female and male characters, she always manages to give each person a distinct and identifiable voice. I'm always amazed at the skill of professional narrators, and can see why Kate Reading is so very popular.

Having never re-reviewed a book, so to speak, this was a new and interesting experience for me. Most of the things that I found problematic when I first read this book were now much lesser annoyances (possibly because I was prepared for them) and the things I remembered liking were even better on a revisit. I'm glad I gave this book a new chance and it's risen in my estimation.

Judging a book by its cover: As I hadn't started this "feature" on my blog the last time I reviewed the book, I now get to critique the cover! Yay for re-reads. This is one of the many romance covers where a lady (I'm assuming it's supposed to be Lady Clara) is facing away from the cover, while wearing a fancy gown that's coming undone in the back. Underneath, she wears absolutely nothing at all, which seems especially inappropriate with regards to this book, which has been tacked onto The Dressmakers books, and in which Loretta Chase goes to some lengths to explain exactly how intricate the clothing of the time was. There is absolutely no way any lady of the time would wear a dress without layers of undergarments underneath, but the wide expanse of naked back seems extra insulting here. Lovely green colours, however, both in the dress and the brocade backdrop.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.

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