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A Trick of Fate

Brandon Brothers, Book 1
Narrated by: Alex Wyndham
Length: 11 hrs and 4 mins
4.8 out of 5 stars (63 ratings)

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Summary

Someone is misusing Max Brandon’s name - resulting in bills for services he never ordered and goods he did not buy. For reasons he can't begin to guess, he has become the victim of some unknown person's campaign of persecution.

When the games move closer to home, almost forcing him to fight a duel...more particularly, when they draw in Frances Pendleton, a lady he never expected to see again...Max vows to catch the man behind them, no matter what the cost.

The result is a haphazard chase involving ruined abbeys, a hunt for hermits, a grotesque portrait...and a love story which, but for this odd trick of fate, might never have been given a second chance.

©2019 Stella Riley (P)2020 Stella Riley

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Identity theft in Georgian England

The combination of a Stella Riley book and the voice of Alex Wyndham - unbeatable. Very hard to take my earphones out and be sociable last evening........... The hero, who appeared in the last book and is a descendant of characters in the Roundheads & Cavaliers series, is being impersonated by someone and then lured into a chase across Northern England and Southern Scotland. I feel very sorry for the horses and the coachman, although I am sure it wasn't particularly comfortable inside the carriage. A happy ending, of course, for the h&h, with introductions to 2 brothers to be heroes of future books - something to look forward to in due course. Interesting background to the tour of Britain and the brothers have unusual interests/careers. Delighted to hear that Rockcliffe has the heir to let his brother off the hook! I have many of Stella Riley's books in print and on Kindle as well as all but one of the Audible recordings, so was delighted to receive a free copy of this book, it is very enjoyable and now I've downloaded the first of the Rockcliffe series to listen to the series again. I would have used a credit for this book if I had not been one of the lucky ones. Looking forward to the next book, Stella Riley, and the audiobook, Alex Wyndham......

6 people found this helpful

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A new series for author STELLA RILEY

A Trick of Fate (Brandon Brothers, #1) is the first in a new mini series and the first brand new series in three decades. In all that time, Stella Riley’s talent has not diminished and she continues to bring pleasure to her many fans. Ms. Riley has always had a loyal following for her incredible Cavalier and Roundheads series but her captivating Georgian Historical Romance novels have not only garnered many prestigious awards, but have also won many new fans in the process. When the author drew her addictive Rockliffe series to a close after six books, which followed the lives of the Duke of Rockliffe and his group of friends and relatives, I was sad to say goodbye - these people are like old friends. However, Ms. Riley has skilfully kept her characters alive to us by linking her previous two series to the intriguing Brandon family. A Trick of Fate follows on directly from Cadenza, the last in the Rockliffe series. In Cadenza we meet Max for the first time where his sister is one of the MC’s. Max’s character immediately appealed to me and I was thrilled to learn that he was to be the MC in Stella Riley’s latest book. One of Ms. Riley’s many strengths is her ability to create drop-dead gorgeous men who are so real we can almost reach out and touch them. Max Brandon is no exception; honourable and decent, he has a wicked sense of humour and sense of the ridiculous. Link all of that back to his great-great grandfather, Gabriel Brandon, MC of A Garland of Straw (Roundheads and Cavaliers, #2), one of my favourite books off ALL time, and I was his slave. Max’s love interest, Frances Pendleton, is a woman worthy of Max, and with more than a few twists and turns to keep us guessing, the author’s trade mark wit and humour, and a spine tingling romance, we have yet another compelling Historical Romance from the pen of Stella Riley. The author has had all of her Georgian Historical Romance novels, and some of her Roundhead and Cavalier novels, recorded by the talented British actor, Alex Wyndham. Until now, I could not fault his performances and have always been a huge fan. Maybe it’s because I’m so in-tune with his voice and talent that I’m not too happy with elements of his performance this time. It’s not so long ago that I listened to Cadenza, in which we originally met Max. Max’s character is larger than life; authoritative and quite obviously the head of his family. However, he’s also a lighthearted, humorous and witty man - it’s one of the traits of his character that I love, and I felt that, between recording Cadenza and A Trick of Fate (the latter follows on immediately from the former), Mr. Wyndham has aged Max’s voice by about fifteen years, giving the impression of a much older man, and has in the process lost quite a bit of his sparkle. I’m hoping it’s just a blip as Alex Wyndham is one of my favourite voice actors. The rest of his performance was very well done, but I was disappointed that he didn’t capture the delectable Max as he had in Cadenza. We now await the second of the three Brandon Brothers stories and I for one can’t wait. Brava Ms. Riley, I always love your work. Highly recommended.

5 people found this helpful

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Impeccable writing and Delivery

Anyone who knows Stella Rileys' series of books either the Roundhead and Cavalier series or Rockliffe will not be surprised by the quality of this writer. The Brandon name will be well known to those who read with great pleasure Garland of Straw and it is wonderful to catch up on the family albeit two generations forward! We know Max from the of the Rockliffe books 'A Trick of Fate' as Arabellas' brother, in this we hear his story. Combine great writing, excellent research and the divine dulcet tones of Alex Wyndham and its a match made in heaven. I encourage everyone to listen to all her audiobooks, They are all keepers

4 people found this helpful

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A great start to this new series

Once again Stella Riley and Alex Wyndham have surpassed all expectations with this audio, ‘A Trick of Fate’ the first in her new Brandon Brother’s series. The plot is what we today call ‘Identity theft’ and centres around Max Brandon the eldest brother of Arabella Brandon who married Julian Langham in Cadenza, book 6 of her Rockliffe Series. Someone is masquerading as Max and obviously causing a great deal of concern as bills and services are being charged to him of which he has no connection. The pressure starts to steadily mount over a few months but suddenly becomes very personal when Frances Pendleton, who Max fell in love with 5 years before but lost touch, is also drawn into this web of intrigue. So the story unfolds as Max and Frances unite in pursuing the person responsible for the disruption to their lives. The scene is set and the chase is on which takes the listener on a road trip of Northern England and the Scottish Borders. Alex Wyndham gives us a variety of subtle dialects. The skilled writing of Ms Riley brings out humour and poignancy as the backstory of their relationship unfolds in a series of flash backs and then moves forward at an entertaining pace. Also, Ms Riley has skilfully moved away from London and the Rockliffe constraints by transferring the listener to the north and thus allowing her access to a myriad of ancient traditions, local customs and culinary delicacies (Haggis anyone?) as we visit the Scottish Borders and their historic towns. Ms Riley’s research is superb. I will not give the plot line away but say that the interaction between Max and Frances is a sheer delight and the outcome of who is causing the distress and why, clever and unexpected - resulting in a happy ever after conclusion that really is ‘A Trick of Fate.’ I loved it and look forward to Brandon Brothers, book 2. Well done Stella Riley and Alex Wyndham, a great start to this new series.

4 people found this helpful

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A delightful start of a new Georgian series

Having listened to all six Rockliffe novels I was very sorry to say goodbye to the well-known and beloved characters of the six novels. But Stella Riley prepared a wonderful surprise for her readers. This spin-off of the Rockliffe series (more precisely of the last novel, Cadenza) brings into stage light the eldest of the Brandon brothers, Max, a secondary character in Cadenza. Don’t worry if you have not read or listened to the Rockliffe novels, you will perfectly understand the story. This is a kind of detective story to catch an 18th century identity thief in a mad race and “hide and seek” game that unfolds on a journey through the north of England and South of Scotland with Roman ruins and ruined abbeys and topped with a revived five years old love story. Expect surprises, humorous situations and twists and turns both in the story and the journey of the two wonderful main characters. Alex Wyndham’s velvety voice only adds to the pleasure and enjoyment of this delightful story. I am looking forward to listening to the other two Brandon brothers' stories.

4 people found this helpful

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Great story!

A really fun listen and a beautiful story of second chances at love. Looking forward to Leo and Adam’s stories!

4 people found this helpful

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another masterpiece

Left me wanting more what a brilliant way to end a book. loved every page.

3 people found this helpful

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Why was this Mills and Boon listed under crime!

I was expecting a lightweight historical crime novel. I got a romance so light it nearly flew away. The only crime was my listening to the whole thing-to which I plead temporary insanity.

3 people found this helpful

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A lovely story by a wonderful writer

This is a lovely, lovely novel written by a wonderful author. It is a historical romance set in Georgian times and concerns the love story between Lord Max Brandon and Frances Pendleton. They had met and fallen in love five years prior to the start of the story but had been separated by nefarious means. However, a trick of fate brings them together again and a curious set of circumstances involving a tour of Cumbria and the Scottish borders enable them to spend time together to discover if their love still exists and can be rekindled. Stella Riley is my favourite author. For me her greatest strengths are pitch perfect characterisation, sparkling dialogue and the inventive use of plot devices which all combine to make novels I can immerse myself in and which I never want to end. A Trick of Fate is just such a novel. I absolutely love the plot device in this story. The identity theft and the ensuing pursuit of the enigmatic Mr Grey is so fresh and different. It gives a backbone to the story, is an interesting plot strand and provides a wonderful opportunity to watch two people fall in love with each other. Max and Frances are beautifully depicted as people I feel I know and would love to meet. Max is a serious man who shoulders his many responsibilities with cheerful fortitude. He is kind, honourable and just and while he has his fair share of firmness and determination, he also has a delightful sense of the absurd. Frances is his equal. She is witty and intelligent, has strength of character and good moral fibre and is very aware of the conventions that a gently bred female of the time should obey. However, she is willing to push these boundaries just a little in order to explore her feelings for Max. As we watch her fall ever more deeply in love with him, so do we fall in love with Max. Ms Riley excels at writing gorgeous heroes. However, there is a whole cast of delightful characters who leap fully formed from the page and into our hearts. From Leo, Max’s younger brother to the self-contained Rafe Sherbourne and from the mysterious Mr Grey to Lady Pendleton, Frances’s dreadful mother – they all feel like real people and add depth and colour to the story. So much of both the characterisation and the narrative are carried through the words the protagonists say to each other and to themselves. I love the way that we see inside Max and Frances’s heads as they individually work through their thoughts and feelings. This feels so intimate and enriches our understanding of them. Dialogue plays a major role in Ms Riley’s novels and enables the story to move along at a good pace. It feels very natural and realistic at every point whether it is conveying the warmth of family interactions, the amusing banter between the brothers or Max’s glorious decimation of his new mother-in-law. The way both brothers talk to their young niece and nephews tells us as much about the adults as it does about the children. I really enjoyed this audiobook and think that Alex Wyndham has done a great job with conveying the warmth and wit of the story. I find it very easy to listen to his voice and think he differentiates the characters very well. Though I had already read the book, Alex’s nuanced performance made me consider parts of it in a slightly different way. This enhanced my overall appreciation of the story and I know I will listen to the audiobook again.

3 people found this helpful

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Definitely a 'Treat'

Absolutely loved this book and listening to the divine Alex Wyndham with his interpretation of the various characters involved. It is not necessary to have read the Rockcliffe novels however it is lovely to catch up with some of the people encountered previously. If you are looking for gratuitous sex scenes or anything of that ilk then this is not for you, but it is a gentle romance with a roadtrip and a twist to the tale. Absolutely lovely, roll on the remaining Brandon Brothers books.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Poetess
  • 30-01-20

New Series

I did not think I could like A Trick of Fate any better than I had after reading the book by Stella Riley. I was wrong, so very wrong. Alex Wyndham breathes life into Max Brandon's character. Ms. Riley had developed his character in splendid ways that soared easily with Mr. Wyndham's talent. Max's voice changed when speaking to Frances, his family, or unsavory types as it would with a real life conversation. His mother Louisa was well done and should be the way all book mothers act and sound. Frances was superb. Her love for Max that she wouldn't show, and yet she supported him. And he supported her, in so many things, big and little. If someone crashed through a door to rescue me, well... The humor caught me off guard when first I read the book, this time I was anticipating it and it was just as funny. How can you not love a man who makes you laugh? The connections to the Rockliffe series were lovely to catch up with. Ralph and Lizzie, Julian and Bella, of course the children were a welcome connection to Cadenza. Now I am so ready for books about Leo and Adam. Maybe Duncan? To revisit the Brandon family. All of them. There were breadcrumbs that lead us straight to them. And to Mr. Wyndham's narration. I recommend this audible book wholeheartedly, for the quality of the book itself and the narration. Thank you Ms. Riley and Mr. Wyndham.

12 people found this helpful

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  • cheryl
  • 30-01-20

I absolutely loved this story!

This was such a captivating story with very engaging characters. Max and Francis had met previously at a house party but circumstances had interfered and they had gone their separate ways. Someone is impersonating Max and he is determined to find out who and why. I enjoyed their journey through the Scottish Border towns. Max had such a wicked sense of humour and he just loved to tease Francis. I had a real chuckle at the haggis episode. Their discovery of what had happened in the intervening years and of how they now felt towards each other was riveting. I also liked the strong sense of family love that came with Max’s family. The attitudes and sensibilities were appropriate to that era. Of course, all this was enhanced by Alex Wyndham’s excellent reading of the story. The different voices he used, as well as the accents were spot on. I just couldn’t wait to listen to the next instalment!

8 people found this helpful

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  • Bibliolatry
  • 28-01-20

Another outstanding book by Stella Riley and beautifully read by my favorite narrator!

When I read Cadenza, I noticed how wonderful Max Brandon was (Arabella's brother), and I hoped that Stella Riley would write his story one day. This book is Max's story. It starts with a mystery, and in the process of solving it, we meet Frances (his long lost love), and accompany them on a romantic adventure that melted my heart. He is the perfect hero, loving, caring, sexy, strong, and yet a responsible family man, imbued with honesty and integrity. I liked Frances too and felt she was worthy of him. There were no games--no miscommunications, just heart wrenching honesty between two people who through sheer luck got their second chance. I always enjoy the dialogue in Stella Riley's books. Her characters' are often witty and clever. For example when France is discussing her family, she says to Max, that her mother "could have turned the Garden of Eden into a desert." I loved how the mystery evolved. I started off disliking the person who was responsible for Max's problems, but as I learned more, I saw him as a multi-dimensional character--not a villain. Ms. Riley has a gift for fleshing out characters and allows us to see them as people--people who have been suffered and are a product of their circumstances. Sometimes they are redeemed, as in the case of Ralph. I hated him in Hazard, but since his marriage in Cadenza, I like him very much. I loved the references to Ms. Riley's book, Garland of Straw. She even referred to a certain jeweler from that book. It was so nice to be reminded of the family's past (and even if I hadn't read that series, it wouldn't have mattered--it's just nostalgic for those who have.) I love the world Ms. Riley has created in her books. I love her writing style, and I LOVE hearing Alex Wyndham read them. He has an incredibly seductive voice that I adore. His narration lends a sexy gravitas to anything he reads. I can't wait to read and listen to the next book in this new series. I just wish Max had more brothers.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Cate F.
  • 25-01-20

Star Crossed Lovers on a chase through Scotland

A Trick of Fate adds to the rich multigenerational saga of the Brandon family. I passed some truly enjoyable hours listening to Alex Wyndham’s perfect interpretation of this book. A few of my thoughts: A Trick of Fate had a lighthearted quality that I found a distinct relief from the stress and gloom of contemporary life. Her books set at the time of the English Civil War reflect the hardships and sorrows of that period. This one takes place many years later, when the wars were overseas and life in Britain was peaceful. The narrative may have been amusing, yet the emotions of the H&h were deep and very real. I’m no prude but I am not interested in gratuitous sex scenes. Riley built the sexual tension expertly and appropriately. Ever since I found my way to the Romance genre via Georgette Heyer, I have loved the Chase trope. This one was among the best and had an unexpected twist at the end. This book easily works as a stand-alone novel but I know my enjoyment was enriched by having read and listened to all of the author’s previous books.

6 people found this helpful

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  • GMALR
  • 30-01-20

18th Century Identity Theft and Lost Love Found

Another amazing collaboration from the team of Riley and Wyndham! This new series starts with a delicious story based on an interesting premise – someone steals Max Brandon's identity. The reason was ultimately a surprise. I loved that, unlike today where identity theft typically lands the perpetrator in prison, Max's response and behavior is almost too honorable to be believed – but you love him for it. The chase to find the who and why gives Max a second chance with his lost love. A great start to a new series related to both the Rockliffe books and the Roundheads&Cavaliers series. Great fun!

5 people found this helpful

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  • noagnes
  • 26-01-20

A lovely Georgian roadtrip romance

This book is a spinoff of the author's Georgian romance series, set in the same world of Rockliffe and friends, centering on the family of the heroine from the last book (Arabella Brandon from Cadenza). Max, Baron Brandon of Brandon Lacey is a victim of a series of increasingly troublesome pranks involving someone impersonating him, incurring debts in his name and causing awkwardness with his neighbours. It reaches beyond annoyance when it involves Frances Pendleton, his lost love from five years ago, arriving and hurling undeserved accusations at him. At the mysterious prankster Mr. Grey's instigation, Max and Frances embark on a journey to uncover and stop Grey, who leads them into the wilds of the Scottish-English border region and into even more mischief and adventure. The prolonged closeness of travelling together on this misssion, however, gives Max and Frances an opportunity to discover the true story behind their tragic parting and rekindle their relationship (their love being never extinguished). During the journey they (and the reader swept along with them) discover the beauty of this remote region, full of castles, abbey ruins (although, alas, not a single hermit to be found), and of course Scotland, the destination for runaway weddings, offers opportunities not to be wasted by a couple in love. When they come to reveal Grey's secret, he turns out to be less of a villain than thought, and the resolution of his problem brings our couple home to use the special talents of Leo Brandon, the second brother (painter and horse breader - I bet you can't guess the uniqe way of his involvement!) and so we get to see the loving family of the Brandons together with appearances of characters from Cadenza - Lizzie and Lord Sherbourne, Arabella and Julian the Virtuoso Earl and their adorable adopted children (read the excellent book Cadenza to get better acquainted with them, although this book can be understood and enjoyed as standalone). I can't list all the aspects I found enjoyable, heartwarming and romantic: the sparkling, witty dialogue beween Frances and Max, their strength of character, love and honour - I especially enjoyed a hero who doesn't allow lust to win over his honour; his determination to deal with the past and to break down Frances's walls around her heart with his teasing innuendos and the warmth of his comfort and acceptance. I'll say that although I have read numerous historical romances with runaway weddings, I've never encountered anything like the funny and romantic and unique one in this book. I appreciated the ties this book has with the author's earlier two series, without making this book overwhelmed with them or needing the knowledge of them to be understood. The Brandons are the descendants of Gabriel and Venetia, protagonists of Garland of Straw, one of the Roundheads and Cavaliers series whose memory is prominently kept alive in the family; there are other references to this series as well as to the Duke of Rockliffe, titular character of the Georgian series connected with this one. This book is called The Brandon Brothers Book 1 - and the two younger Brandon brothers introduced are full of promise (the above mentioned Leo, and Adam who studies fencing in Paris) for future installments. As Stella Riley's books always are, this book is extremely well researched and shows the autor's familiarity with the period in every casual detail of aristocratic and everyday life, allowing the reader to be even more deeply swept into the story and live the experiences of the characters. As always, the stellar performance of Alex Wyndham creates an exquisite audio rendering of this lovely, cute and heartwarming book. Arrogant villain, romantic hero, emotional heroine, down-to-earth coachman/confidante, loving family members, a Scottish barmaid with a sense of humor, a battleaxe of a mother-in-law - a wide variety of character types are easily distingushed and vividly represented, the emotions and the humor brought close to the listener, I can only recommend this lighthearted, funny Georgian romance, especially in this wonderful audio version to everyone!

4 people found this helpful

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  • Beth B
  • 24-01-20

Trick or treat. Definitely TREAT

Stella Riley is a master at both storytelling and character creation and this book presents us with two unconventional,passionate,sometimes prickly but immensely vivid and funny characters. It’s a road trip set in earlier times, as the couple are set on a merry dance with an unknown puppet master calling the shots. The settings are intimate, small coach, small inns in small towns. On this journey of discovery our two star crossed lovers are given their second chance. They are both strong willed but this is tempered by Frances’s tact and humour and Max’s own innate kindness. Tensions rise with passion and confusion as to the purpose of this chase. We also get flashes to the past to inform us of their shared history. When all is revealed we get new details of the Brandon family and their past. So much richness is added with the descriptions of new towns and quirky characters and customs. We also get to visit with old friends from previous books who are woven seamlessly into the plot. Add to this the brilliant narration of Alex Wyndham,who brings his own unique touch, making this very intimate portrait of a pair of lovers sizzle with humour and passion. It is a feast for the senses and not to be missed

4 people found this helpful

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  • Patiotoole
  • 13-03-20

An incredible combination

It is difficult to surpass the excellence of a book written by Stella Riley and narrated by Alex Wyndham. This was a delightfully original story of a second chance romance between Max (brother to Arabella from a previous story) and the lost love of his life, Frances. After wading through many misconceptions during a crazy chase through Scotland, their long frustrated love is finally rewarded.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Denise Benson
  • 29-01-20

The scenic view without leaving your home!

Stella Riley's prose is so easy to listen to and she took me along for the journey. Combined with Alex Wyndham's soothing voice, this was a story I did not want to end. The banter between the main characters was humorous and the added mystery kept me waiting for each new location. I always like the way Stella Riley intertwines historical facts and places and found my self "googling" on the side to learn a little more about Scotland's geography,

3 people found this helpful

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  • Angharad
  • 25-02-20

Enchanting entertainment!

At any given moment, I tend to have a small number of favourite audiobooks that I cycle through, swapping one comfortable listen for another and listening to those again and again until I can recite half of the narrative from memory! Being thus a creature of habit, I tend to forget what a rich delight it is when a new audiobook grips my attention and winds me into its narrative embrace, so that I can barely bear to press pause when I go to sleep for the night, and can hardly wait to recommence the story the next morning. But that is my inevitable experience with a new Stella Riley book! I somehow missed the fact that Riley had a new novel coming out, and so "A Trick of Fate" wafted into my Audible suggestions as a delightful surprise. In this book, Riley opens a new chapter in her series of Georgian (late 18th century) romances, following the threads she laid down in her previous novel "Cadenza" to inaugurate a series of novels that follow the travails and triumphs of various members of the Brandon family. "A Trick of Fate" focuses on Max Brandon, a loving son, affectionate brother, and exemplary landlord and estate manager, whose steadiness and reliability hide a heart blighted by an unhappy romance. I won't spoil the plot for you, but Riley's narrative operates in best Georgette Heyer style, combining romance, mystery, and adventure in one delicious tale about the need to take risks, to be vulnerable, and to not let a second chance at attaining true happiness pass you by. Narrator Alex Wyndham is renowned for his warmly expressive voice, and as usual he perfectly captures the nuances of the characters' emotional trajectories throughout the story. If I have any mild critique to make, it's that as Riley's set of characters from Georgian society expands, some of Wyndham's voices bear a little too much resemblance to others. You're never unsure of which character is which while listening to any given story, but you can definitely hear parallels between the archetypes that recur in different guises in the various books, such as the "complex but passionate man with a Past", the "sociable younger brother", and the "quietly sparky young lady whose external loveliness is outmatched by her inner beauty." But that doesn't matter a mite when you get caught up in the narrative and let Wyndham's melodious accents carry you off to a world of carriages and polonaise gowns; rambunctious orphans and handsome harpsichordists; surprise encounters and Scottish handfasting ceremonies; and, of course, the winding but predestined road towards true love!

2 people found this helpful