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My friends raved about the Parfit Knight, and I was not moved to read it. For a few bad reasons. I judged the book by its cover and as an American parfit sounds like a dessert. But I looked parfit up at last, and it means perfect. Finally it was Alex Wyndham performance that drew me to it. If you haven’t heard Alex reading a book I suggest you do so now without fail. He is perfection.
Anyway back to the book. It is a sweet book with very likable characters, it is a “clean” story all romance no sex, but it really didn’t matter to me. It is sweetly written. All of her books are being reissued and I understand that Alex will also be lending his vocal talent to Ms. Riley's reissued books. Can't wait for her English Civil War/ Restoration books to come out in audio..
15 of 15 people found this review helpful
This is my first Stella Riley book, but it most assuredly will not be the last. Despite recommendations from several friends, I had put off trying this author’s work, but when she engaged British actor Alex Wyndham to narrate the audio version, I jumped at the chance to listen.
Because I am a word nerd, my first task was to look up the meaning of “parfit,” which turns out to be from Chaucer and is an English variation for the French word for “perfect.” In this book, Dominic, the Marquis of Amberley is handsome, charming, intelligent, and kind – a perfect knight to swoop in and rescue lonesome Rosalind Vernon. Dominic is a bit of a rake, but not nearly so much as society may believe. He doesn’t really care about the ton’s opinion and makes no effort to correct some of the more outrageous tales about his exploits.
Rosalind is twenty-two, unmarried, and blind. Ever since the accident that caused her blindness twelve years earlier, she has lived virtually alone at Oakleigh Manor, surrounded by familiar things, a devoted staff, and a raucous parrot with the vocabulary of a sailor. Her parents are dead, and her elder brother, a recently sold-out army officer, is not on the scene. Rosalind is content, however, with being loved and protected from the outside world. She has not one iota of self-pity, but in reality she is living the unfulfilling life of the proverbial bird in a gilded cage.
Dominic appears at the doors of Oakleigh Manor during a blizzard after highwaymen have severely wounded his coachman during an attempted robbery. Upon meeting the lady of the house, Dominic is gobsmacked by her beauty and astonished to learn that she is blind. Although he knows that it is improper for him to be staying in the home of an unchaperoned single lady, he rationalizes that the weather and his coachman’s injuries compel him to be on the premises. He is also just a bit intrigued by Rosalind and somewhat appalled at what he considers her brother’s unfeeling neglect.
During the days that follow, Dominic enjoys prompting Rosalind to step outside her comfort zone. They spend hours talking, go on little expeditions, and have a snowball fight. Dominic treats her with respect, like a fully grown woman and not a helpless child. Eventually, he confesses to her that he does feel pity for her, not because of her blindness but because of her solitary, reclusive life at Oakleigh.
Rosalind slowly blossoms in Amberley’s company and is intrigued by his suggestion that she should insist upon being brought to London for a season. The most beautiful scene in the book is when he is teaching her to dance and suddenly realizes that he has fallen in love with her. It’s always fun to read a story where the more traditional roles are reversed – he is a world-weary rake plunged into romantic love for the first time in his life. For her part, Rosalind is smitten by Amberley, but she has no expectations and thus no thoughts of true love.
Storm clouds appear on the horizon, however, as Amberley suddenly departs Oakleigh Manor for London, where he encounters Rosalind’s brother, Lord Phillip, who knows Amberley’s reputation and considers him totally unsuitable for his sister. Rosalind arrives in London as well, and things begin to get complicated, but I won’t spoil it by revealing more. There is a Big Secret (which at one point becomes fairly easy to figure out), the results of which are perhaps too easily forgiven. Rosalind and Amberley, however, are both such good, kind, honorable people that it is not too difficult to believe that they are able to overcome the obstacles to their HEA.
One of the joys of this story, besides the lovely romance, is the introduction of compelling secondary characters. Amberley’s best friend and potential suitor for Rosalind, the Duke of Rockcliffe, is so intriguing that we want to see more of him – a desire that Ms. Riley fulfills in the next book, The Mésalliance. Lord Phillip is by turns kind and infuriating, as he doggedly refuses to see any good in Amberley. His fiancée Isabel is a strong, independent, sympathetic woman, but her brother is her polar opposite – selfish and deceptive – and the closest thing to a villain in the story. Each of these characters is so well-drawn that their appearance midway through the story does not in the least detract from the main plot. And finally, there is comic relief from the ill-tempered parrot, Broody, a shameless scene-stealer who indirectly inspires a duel.
Narrator Alex Wyndham gives his typical first-class performance. As I have discovered in other books, he has the ability to subtly change his voice to suit a variety of characters – from the French dowager Duchess of Amberley to her sexy son to, yes, Broody. I have just about run out of superlatives to describe the excellence of his work narrating historical romances, so I will say simply that when you have listened to one of his narrations you will want to hear them all.
I am so glad to have finally discovered Stella Riley and look forward to the next two books in this series coming out in audio. I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed that her widely-respected English Civil War series will be forthcoming. As for The Parfit Knight, it is just a parfit historical romance.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful
I am so glad that Stella Riley has ventured into the world of audio. The Parfit Knight, the first of her superb books to be brought to audio, is an absolutely exquisitely written romance, a touching and beautiful character driven tale and I loved it from start to finish. Alex Wyndham, as usual is just outstanding and the perfect choice to bring it to life. I now eagerly await The Mésalliance, the next in the series.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
Rosalind Vernon is twenty-two years old and should be doing what other young ladies of her age are doing, going to balls and parties and finding a husband. But around a decade or so earlier, she was blinded in an accident, and her well-meaning brother believes it best that she is shut away from the world. But a gilded cage is a cage nonetheless, and the sudden appearance of a man in need of help in the midst of a snowstorm is about to upset Rosalind's ordered existence.
On the face of it, The Parfit Knight is a very simple tale. There are no grasping relatives, secret babies or evil doers; it’s just a beautifully told story about two people falling in love and the obstacles they have to overcome – one of which could have potentially devastating consequences.
Add in the superbly talented Alex Wyndham, and you have an audiobook guaranteed to delight romance listeners everywhere. Mr. Wyndham just gets better and better and is the perfect choice to narrate this book; every character is clearly delineated, his pacing is excellent and his portrayal of the central characters is absolutely spot on.
I can't wait to listen to him in the next book in the series. (The Mésalliance).
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
Quite a few shades of the great Miss Heyer can be found here, but in a manner of homage rather than the blatantly annoying copying usually found.
Humorous and entertaining, with villains an heroes aplenty!
I look forward to more work from Stella Riley.