When her naturalist father dies on the upper reaches of the Amazon, Lady Tess Collier sets out to fulfill his last wish: return to England and marry. Desperate and broke, privateer Gryphon Meridon takes on an assignment he'd much rather refuse - shepherding a beautiful, eccentric young lady through London's ballrooms.
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"Very well written, NOT for everyone"
Another very well written book by Laura Kinsale. N. Boulton, as usual, did an incredible job. He can truly make a book soooo much more enjoyable than it would have been otherwise. This book was a bit too dark for my taste. The hero had a tortured sole and as a result the book went down a very dark path. I am never able to not read a LK book straight through and with this book I found myself in need of relief from the angst. So I actually took about two weeks to complete this book vs the previous 24 hr ones by her. Overall a very well written and narrated book but not emotionally easy.
"Love Laura Kinsale But..."
Laura Kinsale's books are not easy, light romances, and if that is what you are looking for, these are not for you. Her characters are very, very complicated. Just when you think the H/H are going to figure it out, they don't. That being said, these books are phenomenally well written. You won't get bored! They are well worth the credit and this one is no different. Her books are automatic downloads for me.
I love Nicholas Boulton; his narration is superb. I really could listen to his voice all day and I have!
"Roller Coaster Angst"
Tortured souls to the max is the best way for me to describe the H/H (Gryphon & Tess) in this deeply intense yet intelligently written novel. I truly enjoy stories with angst but this book takes it to a level of infuriating. It was a bit frustrating and even depressing at times yet I couldn't stop listening. I wanted the characters to work things out and I couldn't help but feel for their suffering but pride and stubbornness made for a roller coaster ride of challenges for them.
This book is definitely not for everyone but if you've read any of Laura Kinsale's books I'm sure you know and appreciate her very descriptive and eloquent way of writing. Just know that this book is not the typical easy going romance.
Oh, and Nicholas Boulton's narration is perfect as usual.
Now, I'm off to find a book with less angst. LOL ;-)
"Flawed Characters Making a Glorious Mess!"
Like many writers – perhaps most -- Laura Kinsale says her characters take on a life of their own, behaving in ways that surprise even her. This must surely have been the case with the two leads in “The Hidden Heart.” Born with silver spoons in their mouths, at predictable stages in the story they spit them out and stomp on them. She’s a liar, and he’s a coward. In later books, Ms. Kinsale does a better job of corralling her protagonists and quelling their more self-destructive tendencies; but, for me, following the adventures and misadventures of the H/h in “The Hidden Heart” is an exercise in frustration. (If another reviewer hadn’t already used the word, I’d use it here: infuriating!) They screw up at every possible turn.
But a Laura Kinsale book is always more than a romance. Her understanding of spoken English and its dialects would put Henry Higgins to shame. The captain of the steamer speaks a different English from the seaman on the deck -- which is different from the botanist/professor which is subtly different from the aristocrat. And Mr. Boulton captures it all with pitch-perfect clarity. There are wonderful ancillary characters – the wretched Louisa, the adorable Mr. Sydney, the evil Stephen Eliot, and the “Clarence Darrow” Sergeant Wood -- all who come alive through Mr. Boulton’s voices and narration. And as someone who skimmed through the very-suspenseful “black dungeon” chapter in the paper-and-ink book, Mr. Boulton forced me to listen to the whole, excruciating scene – making me realize, yet, again, that nobody does it better than Laura Kinsale.
This is not the best of this author’s books. Buy it anyway. You’ll still end up sitting in your car in your driveway with your ear-bud in while your ice cream melts in the back.
Back in the 1980s, I was focused on historicals or science fiction/fantasy and never had an interest in romance at all. But one day at a used book store I couldn't find anything interesting in either of those categories. On a whim, I picked up The Hidden Heart, hoping that the focus was more on historical and not a 'cheezy romance'. Of course, I was completely enraptured and thus started a love for historical romance books. Now, 30 years later, I have revisited this book in Audible form and, although not as perfect as I remembered, I still very much love this first book by Laura Kinsale. The story is a hard one (or melodramatic, depending on your leaning) and the characters will go through a lot. But Kinsale's writing is solid and wonderfully emotional.
Story: Gryff's family was lost to pirates and his noble title and estates stolen by a greedy uncle. To survive, he runs blockades on the American coast while also providing transportation services. Tessa has spent her life with her father traveling and categorizing plants around the world. When he dies, she has no relatives but a very large dowry and title waiting in England. A desperate Gryff is hired to bring her into society and make sure the naive girl isn't the victim of fortune hunters. The problem is, Gryff is finding he very much wants to be one of her suitors - even if he has nothing to offer her. And his Uncle's depraved son has his sights set on Tessa.
There are a lot of contrivances, of course, and the plot does meander quite a bit into unbelievability. Kinsale would definitely tighten up her writing in the next few books and certainly her work is a cut above in a very trope filled genre. What appealed to me most about Hidden Hearts is Gryff's vulnerability; in a field where all the men have to be very alpha, mature, and assured of themselves, Gryff's voice is very young and unsure. And while I'm as tired as the next reader of the 'big misunderstanding' as a plot device, I also can't deny that Kinsale definitely knows how to write a romantic scene. Ah, the feelz.
For My Lady's Heart will likely always be my favorite book of hers - and I have read every single one she has written. But this book will always have a special place for me since it showed me that romances can be more than bodice ripping and couples sniping at each other. It provided such reader joy and pleasure that I had never found in historicals or fantasy.
Of note, I listened to the Audible version. And while I appreciated narrator Bolton's work with Kinsale's more mature heroes, I honestly felt he was miscast here. His voice was far too deep and mature for Gryff and I wish a younger, less seasoned voice had done the narration.
"An Exciting Riveting Adventure!"
I loved this story! From beginning to end this book is riveting. I listened to this book from start to finish in a day and night! I only slept 4 hours....I couldn't put it down. I tried to let the story go so I could get some sleep, but kept dreaming about it...so I got up at midnight and listened to the rest of the book. I finally finished at 6:30am. Thank you Laura Kinsale for a wonderful adventure!!
"TWO CUTE KIDS WHO DESERVE EACH OTHER"
Griff and Tess fell at love nearly at first sight, but their lives were meant to follow different paths. He was a sea captain and she a scientist following in her father's footsteps. They were so different, yet so alike. Her life had been full with the love of her father and his work. Griff lost his family when he was a boy and never got over the terrible loss. Scheming women tried to lure Griff away and a malicious man was determined to make Tess his wife. I enjoyed their sweet love and yearning to be together when odds were against them. Tess was the stronger of the two. Griff was suffering a bit of PTSD and had a very hard time trying to make a commitment. There's lots more to the story. I recommend it highly (even though I wanted to hit Griff up the side of the head a few times).
"Laura Kinsale can make me cry. And laugh."
Sometimes I just have to stop listening so I can calm myself. Kinsale puts so many obstacles between her heroine and hero that the tension becomes excruciating yet so pleasurable I am compelled to keep listening well past my bedtime. Nicholas Boulton is a brilliant reader in a voice that makes the story full of life.
Of course, I highly recommend The Hidden Heart. What are you waiting for?
"Not that good"
I was really disappointed with this book after listening to other books written by Laura Kinsale. She didn't spend enough time developing the relationship between the two main characters. They fell in love during a trip that was totally overlooked in the book.
Save your credit & skip this book.
"Couldn't get past the child abuse!"
Ok, so I know it existed (and still does). I've also listened to other books that had a sick character with those types of sexual depravity, but in this book, it happens more than once, and good people see it, know about it, are disgusted, but do absolutely nothing. They continue to "avoid scandal", "honor the family name" they never do anything to stop it or protect the 5 year old blond boys. Made me intently dislike all the main characters. They were so selfish and so self centered, they never thought twice about the abused children. and in the end they pitied the sick-o.
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