Sebastian Cynster knows time is running out. If he doesn't choose a wife soon, his female relatives will line up to assist him. Yet the current debutantes do not appeal. Where is he to find the right lady to be his marchioness? Then Drake Varisey, eldest son of the Duke of Wolverstone, asks for Sebastian's aid.
Having assumed his father's mantle in protecting queen and country, Drake must go to Ireland in pursuit of a dangerous plot. But he's received an urgent missive from Lord Ennis, an Irish peer - Ennis has heard something Drake needs to know and insists Drake attend an upcoming house party at his Kent estate so he can reveal his information face-to-face.
Sebastian has assisted Drake before and, long ago, had a liaison with Lady Ennis. Drake insists Sebastian is just the man to be his surrogate at the house party - the guests will imagine all manner of possibilities and be blind to Sebastian's true purpose.
Unsurprisingly, Sebastian is reluctant, but Drake's need is real. And with only more debutantes on his horizon, Sebastian allows himself to be persuaded.
His first task is to inveigle Antonia Rawlings, a lady he has known all her life, to include him as her escort to the house party. Although he's seen little of Antonia in recent years, Sebastian is confident of gaining her support.
Eldest daughter of the Earl of Chillingworth, Antonia has abandoned the search for a husband and plans to use the week of the house party to decide what to do with her life. There has to be some purpose, some role, she can claim for her own.
Consequently, on hearing Sebastian's request and an explanation of what lies behind it, she seizes on the call to action. Suppressing her senses' idiotic reaction to Sebastian's nearness, she agrees to be his partner in intrigue.
But while joining the house party proves easy, the gathering is thrown into chaos when Lord Ennis is murdered - just before he was to speak with Sebastian. Worse, Ennis's last words, gasped to Sebastian, are "Gunpowder. Here."
Gunpowder? And here? Where?
With a killer continuing to stalk the halls, side by side Sebastian and Antonia search for answers, and all the while the childhood connection that has always existed between them strengthens and blooms into something so much more.
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This book breaks my heart!
I would recommend the actual book, I would never recommend the audiobook as it ruins the story. When Simon Prebble retired I was so sad because no one can touch his narration of a Stephanie Laurens novel. I saw in interviews and newsletters that she was excited that the recording company had found a new narrator. I didn't like the first couple of times he narrated her books, but I love her writing so much, especially this series: I kept buying them. I can't take it anymore. Matthew Brenher cannot read a book of this genre. He may be brilliant in others but not for these books. He needs to feel the story more himself and not worry about enunciating the preciseness of the "Queen's English" that he is so obsessed with. He is a reader, not an actor or a narrator. It just makes me shudder with pain at how poorly these books are read to me. I wanted so much more.
Tied between Sebastion and Antonia. Who wouldn't love them both, look at the history their father's had: LOL. These are exactly the children I would have expected to see sired by Devil and Chillingworth.
He's too technical a reader with a complete lack of passion or feeling. He focuses more on expressing every syllable with no passion. There is no excitement during this book. It's stale.
Simon Prebble or someone such as Patrick Lawlor. If you are going to perform a book, then do it; perform it!
I have never before listened to a book without having read it, I am now sorry I did. The book - which I was tapping my toes waiting for, left me feeling cold. I hate that, because this is one of my 3 all time favorite series!
- Daphne L. Brown
No, it was not time well spent. I was easily distracted and forgot to pay attention due to the narrator. Minutes would go by and I would miss how we got to the next chapter.
I loved the story, the character development and the underlying mystery. It was a nice change of pace for a traditional historical romance. It will be fun to see the adventures unfold with this next generation of Cynsters.
I'm sure he is a very nice man and the timber of his voice is beautiful. JUST NOT FOR A HISTORICAL ROMANCE!! He would be great for a text book. Or a non-fiction book about the government. His voice did not inflect one iota of emotion as the story unfolded. There was no excitement, no passion. Just monotone. His female voices were H-O-R-R-I-B-L-E they all sounded like drag queens. His male voices were great but there was absolutely no emotion behind them. I listen to audiobooks while cycling, working out and knitting and was so easily distracted because he did not keep me engaged. I have listed to hundreds of audiobooks and this was absolutely one of the toughest narrations I've ever suffered through. I'm so sorry Mr. Brenher to be so hard on you. Your voice is beautiful but just not for this genre!
A different narrator. And actually reading it on my own.
I love Stephanie Laurens and enjoyed all the Cynster novels so am looking forward to the adventures of the next round of Cynster kids. Any chance you can get Simon Prebble back? No one can read a passionate love scene like Simon. I use "conflagration" in a sentance when possible and that I owe to Simon lol ;)
- Mischasmom "Historical romance addict from the moment I picked up Flame & The Flower by Kathleen Woodiwiss in 1972 ;)"