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Imagine my joy when I saw Audible add this book!
First I will stipulate that I'm an old and devoted Laura Kinsale fan. I have been reading romance for over 35 years, and this book, along with another Kinsale wrote called "Flowers From the Storm" are two of the best, and most memorable books I have ever read. I snatched this up right away when I saw it had been released, and even though it was a well loved, well remembered re-read, I was loathe to put it down.
Laura Kinsale is a scrumptious author. She an intelligent romance writer, and I don't think there's anyone out there who writes romance quite like her. She doesn't follow the common tropes. The heroine isn't always a virginal dilettante` (or even likeable at times), the heroes aren't always noble (nor are they always all that heroic), and love isn't always at first sight. The characters are built into real people by her talented pen, and the relationships grow before your eyes, or rather "your ears" since this is an audiobook.
Which brings me to the narration. This was my first time listening to Nicholas Boulton, but I was not in any way disappointed. His accents were very good, his delivery was smooth and his tone stayed faithful to the mood of the material he was reading. He did a fantastic job, and I will admit I was very worried that one of my favourite books would be given to a narrator who couldn't do it justice. Thank goodness, Nicholas Boulton came through with flying colours.
The story is, in as small a nutshell as I can cram it, the story of a girl whose whole family is killed by a religious cult. In the early aftermath of her grief, she wants revenge on the leader of the cult. So she seeks out a fabled highwayman to help reach her goals. She finds him, but he's not quite what she expected. There's plenty of action to follow, but Kinsale uses the action cleverly to also move along (or in some cases, hold back) the relationship aspect of the story. As the two work toward resolving their feelings about each other, they also have to look inward as well. The sex scenes in this book are all meaningful, each for a different reason, and they blend in nicely but, compared to some current bestsellers, are a bit rarer and tamer than what some readers might be used to.
I will be perfectly honest and tell you that if you are looking for an instant relationship, gratuitous sex scenes, or an easy bunch of literary tropes strung together to make a book, you shouldn't read this author. If you are looking for something outside of the box, characters with serious emotional and/or physical flaws that behave in a way real people might, then you will be stunned and pleased by Laura Kinsale.
74 of 80 people found this review helpful
And masterfully performed. One of my top 3 all time favorites. One of the funniest scenes in any book ever. I can't understand why it isn't more highly rated.
11 of 12 people found this review helpful
What made the experience of listening to The Prince of Midnight the most enjoyable?
Without question, the narration skills of Nicholas Boulton.<br/><br/>This is a really great performance and definitely one not to be missed. If you <br/>love historical novels, this is highly recommended for you<br/>
What other book might you compare The Prince of Midnight to, and why?
None other comes to mind, simply because books about highwaymen are not usually my cup of tea at all.
What about Nicholas Boulton’s performance did you like?
The tone, the pacing, the delivery, the accent, how he can switch between characters effortlessly, and it is very clear who is speaking. <br/><br/>Please can we have more books performed by Nicholas Boulton? <br/><br/>His narration skills are second to none and he is heads and shoulders above ANY narrator I have heard. If you are in the mood to listen to a well written romantic historical, he's your man.<br/>
Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?
The scene where the hero, ST is drunk is very funny and extremely well performed; you can't help but be amused by it. The narrator really brings the book and this scene to life. Brilliant!<br/><br/>
Any additional comments?
I have three favourite Laura Kinsale books and previously have not had too much interest in reading some of her other books (Uncertain Magic or The Shadow and the Star, for example), purely because they did not appeal to me. <br/><br/>Listening to Nicholas Boulton read this book and the brilliant For My Lady's Heart, changed my mind and it would not be an exaggeration to say he has given me a new appreciation for Laura's books. I now have them all. <br/><br/>
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
It's no secret that the quality of the narrator can make or break an audiobook, so I'm going to answer the important question first. What most audiobook listeners want to know before buying one is "is the narrator any good?"
You'll be pleased to know that not only can I say a resounding "YES" in response, I can say that Nicholas Boulton is quite possibly the best audiobook performer (I can’t call him a ‘narrator’ because the word doesn’t even begin to do him justice) I’ve ever heard. It certainly helps that he has a beautiful, mellifluous voice that’s soothing and sexy as sin at the same time, but it’s about so much more than that.
He doesn’t just narrate – he inhabits the characters, from the principals right down to the bit-players, and gives each one a distinct voice. He juggles all manner of regional and foreign accents effortlessly (I’m very picky when it comes to accents) and if he had any problems with pronouncing the French and Italian dialogue, then I certainly wasn’t aware of it.
And most importantly – and impressively – he can convincingly voice female characters without using falsetto or making them sound screechy. In fact for Leigh, he uses a register and tone that seems to be not all that far removed from his natural speaking voice – yet there’s no doubt she’s female.
The story is quite complex and to try to write a complete synopsis would take up too much space :)
I wanted to pick out one or two points specifically to illustrate just how good this story is in the audio version.. Even though I haven’t (yet) read the book I’ve been told by people who have and who have listened to the audio that the big thing for them was that they found Leigh to be a much more palatable character in the audio. There’s absolutely no doubt in my mind that that’s true; Nicholas Boulton’s interpretation almost strips her bare, as it were, and he really brings out the pain and vulnerability she struggles so hard to keep hidden. I didn’t dislike her as much as some readers seem to have done, but I would defy anybody to maintain that opinion after listening to the scene in which S.T makes Leigh train the horse he names Mistral. I had tears running down my face when she finally breaks down and finds she can’t help but feel for this beautiful, mistreated animal.
As for his performance of S.T himself... this is only the first of (I think) eleven of Ms Kinsale’s books that are coming out on audio, and I’m already running out of superlatives to describe just how good Nick Boulton is. God help me when I get to book ten - these reviews are going to be really short if I'm to avoid repeating myself over and over again! But it truly is a wonderfully nuanced portrayal of a complex and multi-faceted character. You can hear his insecurities, his frustrations, his passion; you feel his triumphs and share in his joys – and if you can keep a straight face in the scene where S.T pretends to be totally plastered, then you’re a better man than I am, Gunga Din!
Without wishing to do any disservice to Ms Kinsale’s splendid story, I’m going to end by saying that if you read the book and found it hard going because you couldn’t like Leigh – listen to this, and you might find it changes your mind. And if, like me, you haven’t read it before, then listen to this and you’ll wonder how the hell you managed NOT to have read it. And if you’ve read it and loved it – listen to this and you’ll find you love it even more than you did before.
Yes. It’s that good.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful