A medieval setting is the backdrop for this romance, which starts with a bang in the center of a battle scene. My first introduction to this author provided plenty of excitement at the beginning, while we are introduced to the heroine in a curious and headstrong-ish princess Ciara. Quickly this introduction moves to a more sedate pacing, rife with descriptions that serve to set visual references for the listener/reader.
I’ll be perfectly honest right up front and say that this was possibly the most difficult AudioBook to complete that I have ever had, considering I have reviewed over 100 titles. That is saying something, unfortunately it’s not great. The narration by Julia Motyka required quite a bit of getting used to, and the odd mispronunciations and affected delivery of her narration in “uncharacterized distinction’ was quite frankly, annoying. What instantly caught my ear’s notice is the feeling that her voice itself is a characterization: almost over-exaggerated in the enunciation and tenor of speech. It is difficult to explain but if you think about the voice of Jessica Rabbit with a dash of Marilyn Monroe delivery, it gives the same effect early on. I assumed once I had acclimated to the unusual patois I would be able to concentrate on the story and not find the narration dismantling my focus, yet that never quite happened. Her voice is facile, and she did competently adjust her delivery to emulate a more masculine tone, as well as provide variance within the female characters, but the overwhelming feeling I had far too often was to roll my eyes.
Once the story does move into the romance, the pacing picks up, even though I felt there was some unnecessary back and forth between Ciara and Royce, and finding some moments of intrigue between the forbidden and the possible. The sexual tension started high, and moved to almost uncomfortable levels as the two danced about one another, their responsibilities and their own desires. Royce’s repeated self-recriminations about his duty versus desire wore on, losing effectiveness in both emotional impact and believability with each repeat. Both characters were victim to “unacceptable by oath and family’ love they cannot fulfill, yet enough of the twist with an evil brother serving as king to keep the rebels at unrest was mixed in to make their continued association after delivery to her betrothed to make sense. Yet, true love will prevail, and Ciara and Royce do, despite all the perseveration, have a connection that is palpable and caring, and visible to all who see them.
What I’ve realized as I struggle through this review is that this book, originally released in 1997 has a very retro feel to it – and was probably very unique and fresh. In the near 20 years since, writing and the genre has changed, and what was undoubtedly modern and edgy then is less so now. That isn’t a bad thing: I love the retro early romance titles that were my entrée into the genre. Written – I think I would have loved the story and been able to lose myself into the world the author created. Unfortunately, the narration was distracting to the point of annoyance, and kept me struggling through to complete the story. I’m sad, because the words and writing are wonderful and I would happily recommend this author to a reader looking for a solidly built and crafted historic romance. I cannot, however, recommend this narrator: affected delivery, dramatic and distracting overacting and a series of mispronounced words are only a few of the easiest to define reasons.
Stars: Overall 3 Narration 1 Story 3
Title: His Forbidden Touch
Author: Shelly Thacker
Genre: Historical Romance
Narrator: Julia Motyka
Published by: Summit Avenue Books
Source: AudioBook Jukebox
Audio Length: 12 Hours: 31 Minutes
Heat: Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ AllRomance ♦ iTunes ♦ Downpour ♦ IndieBound
The dark swordsman swore to protect a princess—not to fall in love with her...
Hidden away during years of war, the beautiful princess, Ciara, knew little of the world outside—until a conqueror came, and the castle was lost. Now, in the cause of peace, she must wed the brute who destroyed her home and happiness. And the man charged with delivering her safely to the shameful ceremony is a heartless mercenary!
Recalled from exile, Royce Saint-Michel can now win back his confiscated title and lands if he transports the proud, defiant princess to her powerful fiancé. But the road is long and dangerous, prowled by assassins who wish the marriage thwarted and the lady dead. And the greatest threat to the impending union is Royce's own yearning heart, enflamed by Ciara's courage, her fire, her innocence, her beauty—and by the promise of a passion for which Royce would gladly forfeit all he stands to gain including, if necessary, his life.
A copy of this title was provided via AudioBook Jukebox for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.