This one didn’t work all that well for me. Eloisa James is an excellent writer, but I just didn’t like the characters, and I didn’t find their antics entertaining.
Summary via Goodreads.com:
It is whispered behind the fans of London’s dowagers and in the corners of fashionable ballrooms that scandal follows willfully wild Lady Beatrix Lennox wherever she goes.
Three years before, the debutante created a sensation by being found in a distinctly compromising position. Now, the ton has branded her as unmarriageable, her family has called her a vixen, and Beatrix sees no reason not to go after what — and who — she wishes.
And she wants Stephen Fairfax-Lacy, the handsome Earl of Spade. Beatrix, with her brazen suggestions and irresistibly sensuous allure, couldn’t be more different from the earl’s ideal future bride. Yet Beatrix brings out a wildness in the earl he has tried to deny far too long. Still, he’s not about to play love’s game by Lady Beatrix’s rules. She may be used to being on top in affairs of the heart, but that will soon change.
I’ll start out by saying this: The complexity of the relationships in this book were fun to follow– there was a lot going on, and the intricacies were well constructed. I loved Arabella, even if I didn’t agree with, well pretty much anything she did. I hated Esme’s mother exactly as much as was intended. The writing was fantastic, as I expect from Eloisa James.
I love character-driven books. In particular, that’s what i enjoy about romance novels– the ones I enjoy give me a chance to explore the world of another person. For this to work for me I have to like or identify with the character. In a different sort of book, I can deal with an unpleasant heroine, but not in a romance.
As you can guess, I didn’t like the main characters here.
I was almost completely neutral on the only real male character, Stephen Fairfax-Lacey. I didn’t hate the other characters. They’d have been entertaining enough secondary characters, if I’d had a main character I could relate to. In fact, if you like a little more edge to your romance heroines, you might well love this one.
But Beatrix uses her sexuality as a weapon, and pursues an encounter that will undermine a friendship. Esme orders away the man she loves, and then pouts because he actually goes. She undercuts the arrangements she made with a friend to salvage her own pride. And so on.
In the end, I’m certain it isn’t a bad book, just one that didn’t completely work for me. In the ways it didn’t follow the usual structure of a romance novel, it may not appeal to some, where others may appreciate the way that it breaks out of the usual patterns.
Narrator: Justine Eyre was the narrator for this book. I think she did a good job, but since I didn’t like the characters, it made it hard to like her.
Production: No problems, no extras
Print vs. Audio? I suspect I personally would have done better in print with this one, although not by much. I can distance myself from characters I don’t like better when they aren’t in my head. Depending on where I am when I am listening, I can find the steamy scenes… awkward, and they are much harder to skim through (and this was a very steamy read). But there aren’t any problems with the audio production that would lead me to recommend against it, just know your own tastes.