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Anji Dale

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  • Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen's Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues

  • The Quill Collective, Book 2
  • By: Joana Starnes, Amy D'Orazio, J. Marie Croft, and others
  • Narrated by: Andre Refig
  • Length: 14 hrs and 4 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 2
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 2

Jane Austen's masterpieces are littered with unsuitable gentlemen - Willoughby, Wickham, Churchill, Crawford, Tilney, Elliot, et al. - adding color and depth to her plots but often barely sketched. Have you never wondered about the pasts of her rakes, rattles, and gentlemen rogues? How did they become the men Jane Austen created? In this romance anthology, 11 Austenesque authors expose the histories of Austen's anti-heroes. Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen's Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues is a titillating collection of Georgian era short stories.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Dangerous to Know? But not necessarily all bad!

  • By Anji Dale on 06-06-18

Dangerous to Know? But not necessarily all bad!

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 06-06-18

Following on from the wonderful anthology The Darcy Monologues, Christina Boyd has assembled another team of accomplished Austenesque writers for this second volume from The Quill Collective. This time, we're focussing on many of the "bad boys" from the six novels of Jane Austen. In order we have: John Willoughby (Sense and Sensibility), George Wickham & Colonel Fitzwilliam (Pride and Prejudice), Tom Bertram & Henry Crawford (Mansfield Park), Frank Churchill (Emma), Sir Walter Elliot & William Elliot (Persuasion), General Tilney, John Thorpe & Captain Frederick Tilney (Northanger Abbey). You may wonder why Colonel Fitzwilliam is in this list, but you'll understand when you read it.

I read this as an ebook last year not long after publication and have just finished listening to the recently published audio version as narrated by André Refig. Christina Boyd did a fantastic job with the choice of writers and the editing of this anthology and has chosen well once more with her choice of narrator. Mr. Refig's voice is so well suited to this type of fiction and his range of voices for the many and varied characters is phenomenal.

A couple of the stories are marked in the ebook as having mature content (Wickham & Crawford), another three are "moderate" (Willoughby, Churchill & William Elliot), two are "mild" (Fitzwilliam & Bertram) and the rest as "none". In none of them is the sexual content gratuitous or overly explicit.

Let me give you a warning: though some of these "bad boys" are redeemed during the course of their stories, by no means all of them are. However, we do get to see some of their back stories and get to understand some of the reasons why they are the way they are in canon. Of course, I'm not going to tell you which is which. That's for me, and those who've already read and/or listened to this anthology, to know and for you to find out by reading/listening to it! Even though each story is relatively short, the plots and the characters are fully fledged and fully fleshed out. You can read the entire book from start to finish, or dip in and out as the fancy takes you. However you choose to read or listen, it's well worth the time you'll invest. Can't wait for the next anthology!

  • The Darcy Monologues

  • By: Lory Lilian, Caitlin Williams, Joana Starnes, and others
  • Narrated by: Harry Frost
  • Length: 14 hrs and 53 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 5
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 4
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4

In this romance anthology, 15 Austenesque authors assemble to sketch Darcy's character through a series of reimaginings, set in the Regency through contemporary times - from faithful narratives to the fanciful. In The Darcy Monologues, the man himself reveals his intimate thoughts, his passionate dreams, and his journey to love - all told with a previously concealed wit and enduring charm. 

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Great anthology. Worth a repeat listen or three.

  • By Em Jay Reads on 16-02-18

A brilliant anthology with an amazing narrator.

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-02-18

Where do I begin?

Well firstly, Christina Boyd did a magnificent job in getting together such a wonderful band of writers. All have produced top quality works in this genre in the past. Not all have written full length novels but the shorter works they've produced haven't lost anything for all that.

Secondly, who wouldn't want to read or listen to a collection of stories written from the point of view of one of fictions greatest romantic heroes? Some stories are written in the first person and some aren't, but all of them give us a chance to get inside Darcy's head and witness the very monologues that give this fantastic book its title. Some are set in Regency times, some are set in other time periods including the American West and the 60s. The printed book was divided into two sections to reflect this.

Can I pick a favourite story? The answer is a resounding NO! As I read the book, reading in the order as printed, which starts with the Regency era, each new story immediately became my favourite. Then I thought to myself "No, that can't be! Each successive story simply can't be better than the last. They're all absolutely brilliant!" That hasn't changed on listening to the audio version. The stories vary in length and range from Darcy and Elizabeth overcoming their misunderstandings and falling in love as per canon, to Darcy reflecting on his forthcoming marriage, and to Darcy as an old man reflecting back on his marriage to Elizabeth. Then there's the stories set in more recent times such as the Old West, the 1960s and right up to date with Darcy as a Major League baseball player.

I'm not going to go into details about the individual stories - we'd be here all day! As a card-carrying Janeite, I love variations set in the original Regency era but I've also taken a fancy to variations set in other times, too.

This was one of the best JAFF books to come out last year and Harry Frost's narration adds a whole new sumptuous layer to that enjoyment, keeping me company on my commutes. In fact, I was often reluctant to get out of the car at the end of my journey. His Regency Darcy voice is simply to die for! In fact, all of his voice characterisations were fantastic. I've come across some male narrators whose female characters come across as...well "soppy", but that's definitely not the case here. I'm pretty sure Lady Catherine de Bourgh would simply refuse to put up with that!

So, if you're reluctant to try this book because it's an anthology, don't! Just. Don't. It'll be well worth the time you invest in it.

  • A Father's Sins

  • A Pride and Prejudice Variation
  • By: J. Dawn King
  • Narrated by: Catherine O'Brien
  • Length: 8 hrs and 32 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 6
  • Performance
    3.5 out of 5 stars 5
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 5

How do Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet overcome the consequences of poor decisions made by their fathers when Darcy and Elizabeth were young? In A Father's Sins, Mr. George Darcy, father of an illegitimate child raised by his steward, Mr. Wickham, agreed with his wife, Anne, that the firstborn son of their marriage would be heir to Pemberley. However, Mr. Darcy loved his eldest son, George Wickham, and indulged him by bringing him to Pemberley to live after the death of his wife.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • A lovely debut novel

  • By Anji Dale on 18-02-17

A lovely debut novel

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 18-02-17

I'd half-forgotten how much I enjoyed Ms. King's debut novel (sorry Joy!). Her Mr. Bennet is far from canon and a truly detestable character, and her Wickham is lot worse too.

On a lighter note, I loved that Elizabeth got to travel far and wide with the Gardiners after being cast out by her father. Now that's not really a spoiler as it happens quite early on. Some of the things she learns on her travels come into good use when she's called upon to nurse Jane after she's taken ill at Netherfield and in another situation which I won't mention - spoilers this time! A good deed she did whilst away also has repercussions for later in the story.

This is a sweet re-telling of Darcy and Elizabeth's story, suitable for all ages, and Catherine O'Brien's narration is pretty good too.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Persuade Me

  • By: Juliet Archer
  • Narrated by: Jilly Bond
  • Length: 10 hrs and 16 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 14
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 10
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 10

Anna Elliot is stuck in the past. No one can compare to Rick Wentworth, the man she was persuaded to give up. Meanwhile, Rick's moved on - and up. He's got a successful career and a carefully controlled love life where his heart doesn't get a look in. When they meet again, can she persuade him that their lost love is worth a second chance?

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Never forgive, never forget?

  • By Anji Dale on 18-03-16

Never forgive, never forget?

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 18-03-16

PERSUADE ME by Juliet Archer - audio version

This is the second of a series written by Juliet Archer, updating the storyline of a Jane Austen novel to the modern day. Unlike the first one, this one wasn't told with the alternating POVs or narrators. If it had been, it would have been wonderful to hear Rick Wentworth voiced by an actor such as Christopher Eccleston or Richard Armitage. Yes, our Captain is now Dr. Rick Wentworth, marine biologist from the north of England, now living in Australia (complete with supermodel girlfriend) but who has returned to the UK for a book tour promoting his best-seller ”Sex in the Sea".

Ten years earlier, he met and fell in love with Anna Elliott, daughter of the 8th Baronet of Kellynch, while they were both in the south of France. On the advice and connivance of her father and Lady Araminta (Minty) Russell, Anna doesn't go to Australia with Rick. Now, he's a well-respected scientist and Anna is a lecturer in Russian Literature at a University in Bath. The Russian connection is due to her late mother having been Russian. Anna lives in a flat in Bath owned by Jenny Smith, who's husband is still alive but badly disabled.

The plot follows the original very closely so I won't go into very much detail. Sir Walter is possibly even vainer than the original, as is the eldest Elliott daughter, Lisa. Mrs Clay is the masseuse, Cleopatra Clay. The youngest Elliott daughter Mona is still married to Charles Musgrove, with sisters Lou and Henrietta. Rick's sister and brother-in-law run a garden centre near Kellynch, renting property from Sir Walter but not the Hall itself. I loved these Crofts as much as the originals. William Elliott-Dunn is the heir to Kellynch and the Baronecy and to me, comes over as even more scheming than his Regency counterpart.

Rick's resentment towards Anna is even closer to the surface here and "Never forgive, never forget" is a mantra he seems to live by. This gets put to the test when they are thrown into company and the behaviour of neither to each other could be said to be of the best. He deliberately makes a play for Lou Musgrove (after the supermodel has dumped him in absentia for a richer man) before realising, after the events at Lyme Regis, exactly how cruel he's been to both women.

One scene I was waiting for of course, was The Letter. Obviously, the language has been brought up to date but "half agony, half hope" is still there, as are the sentiments. I have to say though, that I still prefer the language style of the original.

As far as I can tell, Juliet Archer is planning on writing more in the series but there's been a gap of some years now since this part. I really hope she does write more as I've thoroughly enjoyed both so far.

  • The Importance of Being Emma

  • By: Juliet Archer
  • Narrated by: Melody Grove, Jonathan Keeble
  • Length: 11 hrs and 18 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 8
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars 6
  • Story
    3.5 out of 5 stars 6

Mark Knightley is used to women falling at his feet, except Emma Woodhouse- she's like part of the family. But Emma's grown into an attractive young woman, full of ideas for modernising her family business, and when Mark gets involved the sparks begin to fly. Although he's seeing her through totally new eyes, Emma remains immune to his charm. She's never forgotten the embarrassing moment when he discovered her teenage crush on him.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • A modern day telling of Emma & Knightley

  • By F on 05-04-16

Emma for the 21st century

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 07-02-16

THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EMMA - AUDIO VERSION

This is a modern re-telling of Jane Austen's classic, which sticks pretty closely to the plot of the original for the most part. I have to warn those who don't like such things, that it does contain a certain amount of profanity, references to sex and a couple of sex scenes as well, so this would be a read/listen for mature audiences only.

The story is told from alternating POVs; being that of Emma herself and the modern Mr. Knightley, here called Mark rather than George. The George Knightley in this tale is Mr. Knightley Senior, who's still alive but absent for the most part on a cruise with his second wife. It was interesting seeing the story from Mark's side as well as Emma's.

The story is set in the world of the food/catering business. Emma is the newly appointed Marketing Director of Hartfield Foods and Mark is temporary CEO of Donwell Organics is his father's absence. Mark has spent the past eight years working for his family firm in India. He hasn't seen Emma grow up from the teenager (nicknamed 'Mouse') who had a crush on him, into the beautiful young woman she is now. He also has a girlfriend back in India, one of the few departures from canon.

All of the usual characters are present. Harriet Smith is a ditzy, chavish PA who's replaced Kate, now Mrs Weston. Mr Woodhouse is the same hypochondriac we all know and Miss Bates is also very true to canon, working for Hartfield Foods past retirement, I think, due to financial reasons. Philip Elton is Hartfield's Finance Director and we meet a truly awful modern Augusta Hawkins (known as 'Gusty'). Robert Martin runs a local haulage company. Jane Fairfax turns up on a work placement in Emma's marketing department and Frank Churchill, renamed Flynn, is an Australian celebrity chef who's very full of himself. Emma's sister is still married to Mark's brother, as in canon.

One thing I think that the audio version gains over the printed version is that two narrators were used. Melody Grove voices Emma's sections and Jonathan Keeble does Mark's. I really liked both their voices and would definitely listen to more audiobooks narrated by either or both.

I find it hard to see why some people have given this book such poor reviews and low ratings. I thought it was a pretty good attempt at bringing this story into the modern world, including all the baggage that goes with melding the original storyline with 21st century morals and expectations.

  • Anne's Adversity: A Pride & Prejudice Variation

  • The Cousins, Volume 2
  • By: Jennifer Joy
  • Narrated by: Emma Lysy
  • Length: 6 hrs and 13 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2

When Anne de Bourgh discovers a family secret in an old letter, she is given two choices: Burn the letter and forget about it or leave Rosings and face disinheritance. How can a sickly lady past the bloom of youth, with no prospects and few friends, hope to stand on her own two feet? How can she learn more about her family’s past without causing a scandal which would forever cast a shadow over the de Bourghs?

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Anne stands up to Lady C!

  • By Anji Dale on 23-01-16

Anne stands up to Lady C!

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 23-01-16

ANNE'S ADVERSITY

I listened to the first book (Darcy's Ultimatum) in Jennifer Joy's Cousins series late last year. Anne's Adversity is the second volume in the series.

In Darcy's Ultimatum, there's a scene in which Anne appears with a mysterious letter. We don't get to find out the contents until this book and it's quite a revelation but I won't give away any spoilers about it here. It results in a major split between Anne and her mother, the overbearing Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Anne ends up living in London and meeting a number of new people, including the rather delicious sounding French refugee Luc Mauvier, and his sister Adelaide.

This is the first JAFF story I've read, so far, that has Anne de Bourgh as a main character and it was really enjoyable. The narrator, Emma Lysy, did a pretty good job with the story, too. There was a problem with her pronunciation of Grosvenor (as in the Square of that name) but that's as nit-picky as I can get.

There's no explicit sexual scenes so I can recommend this book and/or audio to all audiences. The same goes for the first volume of this series. Both are definitely ones to add to your JAFF lists.

  • Darcy's Ultimatum: A Pride & Prejudice Variation

  • The Cousins, Volume 1
  • By: Jennifer Joy
  • Narrated by: Emma Lysy
  • Length: 6 hrs
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 10
  • Performance
    2.5 out of 5 stars 7
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 6

When Fitzwilliam Darcy’s arranged life falls to pieces, his father, Mr. George Darcy, gives him an ultimatum: Marry by the end of the London Season or risk disinheritance. Can Darcy cast aside society’s frigid attitude toward marriage and find true love? Or will his desire to honor his deceased mother’s memory hold him back?

  • 1 out of 5 stars
  • Ruined by the narration

  • By Ann on 16-11-15

What if Darcy’s father is still alive?

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 03-12-15

What made the experience of listening to Darcy's Ultimatum: A Pride & Prejudice Variation the most enjoyable?

A lovely sweet story, well narrated.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Darcy's Ultimatum: A Pride & Prejudice Variation?

When both Darcy AND Elizabeth were each given an ultimatum that affected their entire futures.

What about Emma Lysy’s performance did you like?

Just about all of it. I've listened to a lot of Regency era audiobooks and heard some real horrors in narration. Emma Lysy did a pretty good job in my opinion.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Darcy, marry by the end of the season or lose your inheritance!
Elizabeth, find a husband by the end of the season or marry Mr. Collins!

Any additional comments?

This is the first of a series of three books so not everything is resolved by the end. Looking forward very much to the next two. I gather from the author that the second will be coming in the not too distant future.

There's no explicit sex or even very sensual scenes in this book so I can recommend it for all audiences.

  • A Tender Moment

  • A Darcy and Elizabeth Short Story
  • By: P. O. Dixon
  • Narrated by: Pearl Hewitt
  • Length: 37 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2

What if two weeks after the Meryton assembly, Darcy no longer wishes to deny his increasing fascination with the bewitching Miss Elizabeth Bennet and her amazing eyes? What if he's the last man in the world she wishes to spend time with, owing to his tendency of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time? Will he persuade her to give him another chance to earn her good opinion?

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Would love this to be expanded to full length.

  • By Anji Dale on 22-11-15

Would love this to be expanded to full length.

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 22-11-15

Would you listen to A Tender Moment again? Why?

Yes and have already done so. It's a short but lovely variation, starting and ending at Sir William Lucas' party. The length of it is perfect for a lot of my journeys to work and it's also ideal as a way of settling down at bedtime.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Elizabeth Bennet (no surpises there!). She doesn't hesitate to speak her mind to Darcy when she overhears a remark he would have been advised not to make in a public place.

Which character – as performed by Pearl Hewitt – was your favourite?

Pearl tends to keep the voices for the characters the same for all of Pam Dixon's books and I particularly like the one she uses for Elizabeth.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Yes, right at the very end but I won't say what it is. Spoilers!

Any additional comments?

I hadn't read the blurb about this short story before I started listening to it and had assumed that the Tender Moment took place after Darcy and Elizabeth had become betrothed. I was surprised when it didn't but really enjoyed the story anyway. It would be lovely for Pam Dixon to expand this into a longer length piece at some point in the future as I think there is a lot of potential in it.

This is a short story that anyone could listen too as there is no explicit content.

DISCLAIMER: I received my copy of this story as a gift from the narrator.

  • A Code of Love

  • The Code Breaker Series
  • By: Jacki Delecki
  • Narrated by: Pearl Hewitt
  • Length: 8 hrs and 12 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    3.5 out of 5 stars 3
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 2
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars 2

Threatened by French spies, assassins, and calculating suitors, can Lady Henrietta Harcourt trust the infamous rake, Lord Cordelier Rathbourne, with her carefully guarded family secrets? In his new, undisclosed position as Director of English Intelligence, Cord faces more peril keeping the brilliant Harcourt family of code breakers safe than he did as undercover spy in Napoleonic France. Cord's passionate attraction for the indomitable Henrietta hasn't diminished in his four years abroad, but neither has Henrietta's memory of his libertine past.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Good story, somewhat spoiled by Plot

  • By J. T. on 10-07-18

Regency Bletchley Park meets a Regency James Bond!

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 17-11-15

Where does A Code of Love rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Probably somewhere in the top third of books in my library.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Please can I have two? I really enjoyed both Lady Henriette and Lord Cordelier Rathbourne. Both have their preconceived ideas about the other but through intrigue and danger they both discover and grow accustomed to the other's finer qualities.

Have you listened to any of Pearl Hewitt’s other performances? How does this one compare?

I've listened to a lot of Pearl's audiobooks and she's one of my favourite narrators. Her voice seems particularly suited to Regency era fiction. She never disappoints.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Spies, intrigue and code breakers but not as we usually know them!

Any additional comments?

This is the first audiobook by Jacki Delecki that I've listened to. On the whole, I enjoyed it but it's obvious that Ms. Delecki is from the USA as evidenced by a number of Americanisms present in the book. Provided you can ignore or set these aside, I can recommend it as a good listen. If it hadn't been for these quibbles, I would have awarded 4 stars for the story.

I would say that it should be for a Mature Adult audience only as there are a number of fairly explicit sex scenes in it but they're well written and not at all gratuitous.

DISCLAIMER: I received my copy of this audiobook as a gift from the narrator.

  • Threat of Scandal

  • A Pride and Prejudice Sequel
  • By: Ayr Bray
  • Narrated by: Stevie Zimmerman
  • Length: 4 hrs and 47 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 1
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 1
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 1

At twenty years of age, Georgiana Darcy embarks on her third season in London hoping to find true love. Things go terribly wrong when she is implicated in a scandalous affair with the Duke of Rothford and, though she is innocent of wrongdoing, London society shuns her and her reputation is in tatters. For months the Duke has had troubles of his own; the last thing he needs is to be caught up in London's latest scandal with a perfect stranger.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • It's Georgiana's turn!

  • By Anji Dale on 02-08-15

It's Georgiana's turn!

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-08-15

What did you like most about Threat of Scandal?

The story as a whole AND the narration of Stevie Zimmerman. A good story can be ruined by a bad narrator.

What other book might you compare Threat of Scandal to, and why?

Any of Ayr Bray's other books, plus those of P.O. Dixon, Abigail Reynolds, Maria Grace and Regina Jeffers. They're some of my favourite writers in this genre and Ayr Bray has now joined them.

Which character – as performed by Stevie Zimmerman – was your favourite?

I can't really single just one character out. I hadn't heard Stevie Zimmerman narrate until I listened to Ayr Bray's books but she has a very good style, perfect for this type of book.

If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

Mr. Darcy's sister is in trouble!

Any additional comments?

I thought it was a nice touch to give a warning about it's content before the final chapter. The rest of the book could be listened to by any audience but the epilogue is only for those who don't object to scenes of a sexual nature. Personally, it doesn't bother me but anyone who wants to listen to this book can easily miss the final chapter without missing anything vital to the story as a whole.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful