Tragedy drove him into unwilling exile. Death demands his reluctant return. In the decade between, he has answered to many names and amassed a variety of secrets. Now the actor known to Paris as L'Inconnu must resume his real identity and become Francis Adrian Sinclair Devereux, Earl of Sarre...a man he no longer knows how to be and whose name, thanks to the malice of a friend turned enemy, remains tarnished by an old scandal. Revenge, so long avoided, slithers temptingly from the shadows.
Granddaughter of a wealthy wool-merchant, Caroline Maitland is not finding her society debut either easy of enjoyable...but, to Marcus Sheringham, she is the perfect solution to his crushing mountain of debt. Knowing she will be married for her money, Caroline never believed she would find love; but neither did she bargain for a certain charming French highwayman...and a surprising turn of events. The stage is set, the cast assembled, and the Duke of Rockliffe waits for the curtain to rise. In the wings, Lord Sarre prepares to make his entrance. He doesn't expect to be greeted with applause.
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One of the best traditional romances I've heard
4.5 Story & 5+ Narration Stars!
4.5 "The Gentleman Actor and the Merchant's Daughter" Stars for the story and 5+ Stars for the narration! (Narration by Alex Wyndham)Stella Riley's creative imagination and wit are in top form for the third book in the Rockcliffe Series, The Player. Proving her ability to weave in unconventional and unique circumstances into a romantic tale, Ms. Riley kept me intrigued and on my toes throughout the entire listen (a 10+ hour listen which I devoured over two short days!). Moreover, Alex Wydham's appealing and soothing voice kept me glued to my earbuds. The rumors surrounding his rushed departure from his home in England have kept Adrian Sinclair Devereux away for a decade. But upon becoming the Earl of Sarre, he can no longer run away from his fate, so home he returns with revenge plans in hand.Having survived in the interim in Paris through an unconventional trade for a gentleman--one which mixed gambling and acting--he soon finds himself leaning on old habits when he uncovers a potential damsel in distress (Caroline Maitland). Caroline appears perilously close to falling victim to a former friend who betrayed him in the worst of possible ways (Marcus Sheringham). Caroline's grandfather has determined to marry her off to a gentleman with a title, and as is typical of the time, the one who has taken a particular interest in her (Marcus), is much more interested in her dowry than love. But the only way Adrian can get close to her involves him polishing off his old acting skills, so he dusts off one of his favorite roles and puts on a show worthy of an encore. But though Sarre first crossed paths with Caroline as an unintended effect of his planned revenge, he must soon determine if his role in the play that involves her salvation (and, in turn, Marcus' damnation) is merely an act spurred by revenge or driven by something much deeper and heartfelt. Moreover, having met her under a cloud of deception will he be able to convince Caroline that he has her true interests at heart?As always, Alex Wyndham delivers a spell-binding narration. Without a doubt Mr. Wyndham is one of my top-favorite historical romance narrators. His voice is so soothing and his deliver is always perfectly timed to give heightened effect to the scene enacted. Additionally, Mr. Wyndham's attention to even the minutest details is sublime. From the age to the regional accent of each character (and even of the same character, like Adrian who switches accents back and forth depending on the role he is playing), you can count on Mr. Wyndham to present both an authentic and easily distinguishable voice for each and every character that perfectly matches the story Ms. Riley has written. Perhaps one of my favorite things about Ms Riley's romances is her ability to capture the societal conventions of the historic times she writes about. Things that appear trivial in today's world, such as whether you earned or inherited your wealth, had profound ramifications in the times Ms Riley writes about. Capturing this cultural depiction and mixing it together with compelling characters worthy of a true HEA makes her romances especially endearing. The Player is no different, and given Mr. Wyndham's extraordinary narration to boot, deserves to be on every historical romance listener's to be listened to list. Source: Review copy provided in exchange for an honest review.
- BJ's Reviews