The Highland Duke by Amy Jarecki
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
It's entirely possible that the fact that I listened to the audiobook is largely at fault for my frustration with this book, because as you'll read in my review, I couldn't stand the narration.
The audio aspect of my experience wasn't the only main problem, however. The entire premise of this novel is flawed. Divorce, in the time, didn't play out as it does in this book. In this era, divorce was not only extremely difficult to obtain, but virtually impossible when the couple had children. If you *were* able to obtain a divorce (which, again, was basically impossible), you were shunned from society. So, if this duke was actually divorced in the time, he'd not be so chummy with other chieftains or members of aristocracy, as he'd be looked down upon. This fact bothered me immensely throughout the novel. He and his "gypsy fairie" were actually a great match, because he'd have been considered an outcast from society, as well.
Another thing about the plot that bothered me was the duke's assertion that he couldn't marry again. Ok, this makes perfect sense, but he didn't even try. Heck, he didn't even try to figure out if it was possible! He merely said "nope, can't be done" and left it at that. Come on, man.
The ending of the book also really bothered me. From the Captain's POV, we can guess at what happened to him, but it's never actually explained from the H/H's POV. The topic is merely dropped! I mean, what happens with the Marquess? Did he give up his attempts at "getting" the duke? The fact that this was never mentioned again was incredibly irksome. One would think that the editors would have picked up on this open-ended plot issue.
Now, on to the audiobook presentation. I cringed so many times while listening to this. Penelope Hardy actually seemed to try to put on a Scottish accent, but fell a bit short. She was a decent enough narrator, and I think she'd be great for an England-set novel, but Scottish romances just aren't her forte. Alex Hyde-White, on the other hand, was not just cringe-worthy, he was irritating, and often disturbing. I felt upset every time he spoke. Not only did he not even try to put on a Scottish accent, but he spoke in a higher-pitched, nasally, raspy, and slow voice, making the duke sound like an old, stuffed-up, pervy man. I'm sure he'd be suited just fine for a literary or non-fiction novel, but with romance...just, no. I felt distinctly uncomfortable when he read anything intimate, and he was terrible at reading female voices. In fact, it was very difficult to differentiate between the duke and any other male character. Additionally, at the end, the last chapter switched the narration between Penelope and Alex, both reading the other character's POV. Put simply, the narration was terrible.
Overall, the book had many things that bothered me, but from chapter-to-chapter, I enjoyed the interaction between the H and H. If you're willing to overlook the implausibility of the plot, I'd recommend it...but only if you read the book. I wouldn't recommend the audiobook to anyone.
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My name is Cheri. I'm a historical romance author, wife, and stay-at-home mom of four young children.