I’m a huge fan of Eloisa James, and had read this title when it was first released in 2009. A bit of a mashed-up premise in this Regency era romance, with plenty of drama, angst, secondary characters to enjoy and some frequent head-hopping, it is not a difficult story to follow, but does require attention.
Charlotte is the heroine, we meet her at 17 during a very successful debut season. A masquerade ball is the highlight of the young season, and Charlotte is busily making an impression, and some questionable choices.
Alexander and Patrick are twins, fast gaining the reputation as hellions and pranksters. After the masquerade ball, their father, Earl of Sheffield and Downs ships the boys off for some growing up time. But Alexander can’t forget the young woman he shared a passionate encounter with, even going to great lengths to imagine her visage beneath the never-removed domino.
Fast forward five years and Alexander has returned, young daughter in tow. Reeling from his wife’s faithless behaviors, he’s only searching for a new mother for his child, and does not recognize the young woman with short dark curls and a bevy of suitors as the one he shared his evening with long ago. Rumors of his life in Italy and the supposed reason for the annulment of his marriage are keeping mamas of the tonne from pouncing on this very eligible man.
Charlotte starts strong and determined, but has a streak of too ready to accept bad behavior and allow others to steer her in odd directions without reason. Patrick, Alex’s brother is little more than a manipulator, and only rivals Alex in loathsome behaviors. Neither of these men is particularly compelling, even after they realize their behavior is horrid. Other secondary characters are amusing and compelling, and we are introduced to several that will feature in other installments of the story. Rather typically Regency in feel, this is a bit more overt in the manipulations and social hypocrisy than say, Austen, but carries the conventions, restricted potential for women and the overt chauvinism of the men.
Narration in this story is provided by Susan Duerden. I’ve got a mix of good and bad in this: she is the narrative voice for several of my favorite historic romance authors, and I’ve heard great things about her work. But, I think the combination of multiple points of view and a rather strained/exaggerated half-whisper, half-growl breathy delivery of the male character’s voices was off-putting at best, distracting and comical at worst. While the voices for each character were distinct and easy to differentiate, there was a loss in emotional content and oomph that I had hoped for, that was easier to infer from the written text.
Production for the audio is from Blackstone Audio and the volume is well-modulated with no apparent breaks for edits or splicing. Normal speed narration is paced steadily, while increasing to 1.5 (my normal listening speed) didn’t feel rushed.
While it wasn’t my favorite of this author’s books, or my favorite narrative performance, it was a nice chance to get back into a series that I have been meaning to revisit.
Stars: Overall: 3 Narration: 2 Story: 4
Title: Potent Pleasures
Author: Eloisa James
Genre: Historical Romance
Narrator: Susan Duerden
Published by: Blackstone Audio
Published on: 10 December 2014
Source: AudioBook Jukebox
Audio Length: 15 Hours: 29 minutes
Heat: Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ AllRomance ♦ Barnes&Noble ♦ iTunes ♦ Downpour ♦ IndieBound
Eloisa James breathes new life into one of the most popular fiction genres with her highly original debut novel Potent Pleasures, a charming, vividly peopled Regency romance. With an uncanny wit and an eye for the whimsical, she unravels a complex--and often hilarious--chain of events inadvertently set in motion by a young woman's first taste of forbidden pleasure.
About to make her debut in London society, Charlotte Calverstill, beneath the lavish gowns and manners of a well-brought-up young lady, yearns for a taste of freedom. Pushing propriety aside, one evening she sneaks out with a friend to attend a masked ball, and there meets a devastatingly handsome stranger who relieves her--not against her wishes--of her virtue, then vanishes.
Years later, when they meet again, the rogue does not remember Charlotte. But she certainly remembers him; she has since learned not only his identity, but also a titillating piece of gossip about him that is sure to set society abuzz. The intricate web that a now-wiser Charlotte weaves to exact her due ensures justice for some and great merriment for all.
Taking the Regency historical to fresh new places, with artful smoothness and irrepressible humor, Eloisa James delivers a winsome tale of first love and life's unexpected surprises.
See the Pleasures Trilogy on GoodReads
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.