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Darius -- my favorite Lonely Lord book-- is just as good in audio. Fine job by Roger Hampton (although I do wish his female voice was not quite so falsetto).
Darius Lindsey, second son of the Earl of Wilton, is a secondary character, in The Virtuoso (Duke's Obsession, #3), as Lord Valentine Windham’s friend who helps him restore the run-down estate that Val won in a card game. (And how odd it is that these sons of an earl and a duke are such competent carpenters? Well, we’ll let that slide.) Darius is broke because his evil father has cut his allowance. Why does Wilton treat his children so cruelly? No idea. Why does Darius’s sister Leah need his protection? No idea. Why is Leah tainted by scandal? No idea. (But fear not, you’ll get answers if you read the next book, Nicholas.)
To keep the wolf at bay, Darius is a sort of man-ho for two ladies with bizarre sexual tastes. He refuses to engage in actual intercourse with them, but allows them to enjoy their peccadilloes. He hates them and himself, but he’s desperate to keep up his modest country estate, protect his sister, and support an adorable boy who may, or may not be, his son. Enter Lord William Longstreet, an elderly, highly respected politician married to a much younger lady. He and his late wife had two sons, but one died at Waterloo and the other in a duel. Thus, Longstreet has no heir, and upon his death his estate will revert to the Crown, leaving his wife virtually penniless. After discreet investigation, he has picked Darius as the man he wants to hire to impregnate his wife, and he offers Darius a fortune to take on the job.
Vivian Longstreet is, as Darius later puts it, a “married spinster.” She had been the hired companion to the late Lady Longstreet, and after that lady’s death, William married her to save her from falling under the dubious protection of her greedy stepfather. She has reluctantly agreed to her husband’s plan but has no real expectation that it will work. When she and Darius meet for the first time, though, they awkwardly enjoy one another’s company and agree to go forward with the plan.
You know where this is going. Darius and Vivian spend a month at his estate, uneasily at first but then passionately, and she returns to her husband. They don’t admit the love between them; they both know that they can never even acknowledge one another in public, and Darius can never be a true father to the child that she is going to have. I love the way the author gradually built up the relationship between Darius and Vivian. We get to see that he is a truly good man, despite his flaws, and deeply protective of those he loves. With Darius’s encouragement, Vivian comes out of her cocoon and enjoys herself. In addition to the increasingly passionate sex, he buys her a new wardrobe and gets her out of her drab gowns and severe hairdo. It’s a little bit like spending a month with a cross between George Clooney and Tim Gunn. I want to go there.
Okay, I jest, but actually I found this story sweet and charming and deeply affecting. Their parting was truly touching. I didn’t cry, but I wanted to. And then when Vivian returns to her husband, he actually comforts her. “It’s all right to be infatuated with the man, probably better in fact,” adding, “Lindsey is comely, he has a certain dash, and he no doubt charmed you. Some feelings for him were inevitable.” What a sweet old bird.
Back in London, Darius uses some of William’s money to set up a trust for his unborn child. He decides to drop his two “clients,” but they are not inclined to just let him go, so they cause trouble. Vivian’s stepfather and step daughter-in-law also cause trouble. There's some excitement, but Darius knows how to play down and dirty and gladly does so to protect Vivian's good name. In the meantime, Vivian is finding ways to keep “accidentally” running into Darius at various venues around town. In public, he treats her with cold politeness to avoid raising suspicions, but Vivian is hurt nonetheless.
As Vivian’s pregnancy progresses, Lord Longstreet’s health is deteriorating. I think Lord Longstreet is a sort of secondary hero in this story. He married Vivian to give her protection at a time when he still had two living heirs. Although he’s still in love with his dead wife and spends his time reading her old diaries, he always shows Vivian tenderness and respect. It gradually becomes apparent that Lord Longstreet hoped all along for a match between Vivian and Darius, and he goes out of his way to befriend Darius, even naming him godfather to Vivian’s child. He treats Darius like a son, and Darius finds in Lord Longstreet the paternalistic affection he had never known from his own father. It’s all rather unexpectedly moving.
I have now read all of Grace Burrowes’ published novels (although she’s turning them out so quickly that’s it’s hard to keep up). As I’ve said in other reviews, she has certain authorial habits that drive me to distraction, and yet I keep reading because her characters are so compelling. I found fewer distractions in this book, perhaps because I was so smitten by Darius himself. I suspect that most readers will be smitten as well.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
What would have made Darius: Lord of Pleasure better?
Narrator with a voice more appropriate for the story - more mellow perhaps??? Also a narration preferably synced to the text; this is not. This narrator makes changes in the text so perhaps that is why the text and narration are not linked??
What other book might you compare Darius: Lord of Pleasure to and why?
Hard to say. The Lonely Lord series is enjoyable but this audio version is very disappointing
How did the narrator detract from the book?
His voice is too high pitched and what little I chose to listen to, was without variation in pitch, tone, quality, emotion
If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Darius: Lord of Pleasure?
Any additional comments?
I have returned this audiobook as it is such a disappointment. I have read Darius and looked forward to a narration but this is a distraction. I like to be able to read along or not, depending on the story, and really do not like when the narrator changes what has already been written.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
I'm a big Grace Burrowes fan and this was one of the first of her books I read, so I've got a bit of a soft spot for it, and it remains a firm favourite of mine. The hero of the story is the impoverished son of an earl, who wants nothing more than to do the best for his loved ones, but who so hates the way he makes his living (he's a sort of gigolo to bored wealthy ladies who like a bit of kink in the bedroom - and although he'll let them tie him up and get out the riding crops, he draws the line at actually having sex with them) - that he's come to despise himself as much as he despises the women he consorts with.
He's asked by an elderly lord to spend a month with the man's young wife and to break his "no sex" rule in order to get her pregnant. He's reluctant, but eventually is unable to resist the idea of having enough money to repair his modest estate - and the bargain is stuck.
The direction the story will take is no surprise, but the writing and characterisation are so strong, and the story and romance so well-developed that the predictability really doesn't matter. Darius is a wonderful hero - a decent, kind and honest man who has perhaps made some poor choices, but who will do anything in order to protect those he loves. The relationship between him and Vivian (the heroine) is heart-felt and sometimes heart-breaking, but it's deeply emotional and very touching.
In Roger Hampton, Grace Burrowes has found a narrator whose voice, delivery and emotional engagement are an excellent match for her words. She has a very distinctive writing style and her characters’ speech patterns are quite unlike those found in the works of any other author – so finding someone who can utter them without mangling them or sounding self-conscious is incredibly important. Mr Hampton has done such excellent work on Ms Burrowes’ (inexplicably) small number of available audiobooks, that his is now the voice I hear in my head whenever I’m reading one of her books!
His performance here is very good, although not without flaws. All the characters are easy to tell apart and his vocal range, and ability to utilise a variety of different regional accents is impressive. My main quibble is with his portrayal of Vivian - she started out having a fairly deep voice (as per the text), but by the end of the book, it was a bit higher. That said though, it didn't spoil my enjoyment - it was just something I noticed.
Overall, I enjoyed Darius just as much in audio as I did in print, and I'd love to hear more of this series in audio.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
One of the most romantic - and erotic - books I have listened to. Well read, great characters. Gave me goose bumps and left me with a soppy smile on my face. Darius is the ultimate romantic hero, with enough flaws to be human but, gosh, so utterly desirable, sexy, honourable and smart. Might have to listen to it again straightaway.