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The Damsel: A Dark Regency Erotic Romance

The Villain Duology, Book 4
Narrated by: Darcy Stark
Series: The Villain Duology, Book 4
Length: 10 hrs and 13 mins
Categories: Erotica, Fiction
4 out of 5 stars (1 rating)

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Summary

The honourable Mr. Robert Stanley is heartbroken....

After losing the love of his life to another man, he stumbles into a public house looking to drown his sorrows. The last thing he expects is to be approached with a scandalous proposition. When Lady Cassandra Lane offers him one night in an upstairs room with her, he leaps at the chance despite her stipulation that he submit to her every whim. He wants nothing more than to lose himself and forget his pain; allowing someone else control seems a small price to pay for it. Little does he know that one night will have the power to change everything. 

Lady Cassandra Lane is in a constant state of rage....

After her brutal assault at the hands of a lord, she’s had her name and reputation dragged through the mud. Her family and friends have turned their back on her, and she’s become a social outcast. In the midst of it all, the anger and fear caused by the theft of her innocence rules her existence, and Cassandra has had enough. Deciding to take control of her circumstances, she sets out to find a man with whom she can overcome her anxiety over physical intimacy. Robert Stanley seems like an ideal choice - someone she can use for her own ends and discard once she is done. However, she never anticipates that their one encounter will lead to a craving for more.

Even when she fights him, all he wants is to save her from herself....

Robert cannot understand why he responds so readily to Cassandra’s dominant nature, or the cruelty fueled by her anger. Nevertheless, he is drawn to her like a moth to a flame - despite the possibility that she will only hurt him in the end. As he falls rapidly under her spell, he begins to uncover Cassandra’s deep, dark secrets, as well as her hidden pain. Even though she pushes him away at every turn, he finds himself unable to walk away - especially when it becomes clear that one of her secrets might just be the death of her.

©2019 Victoria Vale (P)2019 Victoria Vale

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  • Kate
  • Audiobook Blogger @MLHearingThings
  • 17-06-19

Regency London as you have never seen it before...

The Damsel was my first 'Dark Regency', and I wasn't sure what to expect. I have always listened to Regency stories when I want lightweight, predictable, easy-listening, but I was intrigued by the prospect of exploring another facet of the period. I'm glad I took the chance, as it was very entertaining and a fresh - though some may feel a rather sacrilegious - take on the genre. 

In Vale's Regency world, society etiquette is dramatically subverted at many a turn, though mainly behind closed doors. The villains are brutal, the intimacy graphic, and the characters' torturous experiences are not all of the sensual variety. The Damsel features a D/s relationship with the heroine in the Dominant role, and I enjoyed having both Robert's and Cassandra's pleasures articulated during the steamier scenes.

This audiobook was the best blend of romance and kink of any I've heard, thus far. So often the affection in similar novels feels tacked-on to justify or soften other behaviours, but the tenderness between Lady Cassandra and Mr Stanley felt as sincere as their passion. 

The first hour or so of this novel is almost relentlessly bleak, to the point that it did feel a little gratuitous. A rich backstory is helpful for developing a solid understanding of a character's motivations, but I would have preferred it to be woven into the novel rather than delivered like an Oscars 'People We Lost This Year' montage at the start. Keep going, though, as it picks up pace well after that.

Overall I was sorry to part from the characters and was pleased that their story ended on a positive note, especially after such a grim start. Whilst this audiobook has rather little in common with a traditional Regency romance, its HEA was a welcome nod to the classic format. 

The narrator, Darcy Stark, was new to me but very enjoyable. Stark's reading was very dramatic with the occasional unusual inflection toward the beginning, but he brought each character to life very nicely. His voice was passionate and emotive, coping well with tragedy and intimacy.

Whilst very different to my usual, lightweight Regency fare, I'm looking forward to listening to similar audiobooks by Victoria Vale. I think the earlier books in the Villain Duology will be next on my wishlist, even though this was a stand-alone novel. 

I would recommend this audiobook to people who usually find Regency romances a little too sweet, and to those who would like to explore Dominance and submission against the safe, ordered backdrop of Regency England. 

*I received this audiobook free of charge in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.

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  • Sophia
  • 06-05-19

Amazing, sensual, pleasurable!

Review of “The Damsel” the audiobook

Omg! What a story! What a drama! And what a brilliant audiobook! I couldn’t stop it! And Darcy’s voice, *swoon* Love, love and loved it! He made Robert and Cassandra come to life inside my head like never before!

Cass was more or less everything I hadn’t expected of a Vale heroine, but with Darcy’s voice and the story being told, she grew on me. I recognised some of her priggly outer layer of thorns she was wearing as protection against the world. But as the story progressed, Cass showed herself to be a strong and independent woman, with some familiar traits within the boudoir. I was so glad to follow how Cass softened, both due to her past history and her relationship with Robert.

And pretty Robert, what a mamma’s boy, but what an evolution he made throughout the story! He became a true Vale hero or lead, with a spine and a stubbornness of mind. Darcy’s voice was likely the factor which made Robert into the man I imagined in my head, especially since Robert turned out to have more layers, than first assumed.

Once again, I can only congratulate both Mistress Vale and Darcy Stark on a wonderful performance, and a masterpiece full of drama, sensuality and yet with a strong evolution of both characters.

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  • G C
  • 16-05-19

AWESOME!

I absolutely loved it! This series just keep getting better. I went through so many emotions with this story. I laughed, cried, swooned and became totally immersed in the BDSM. The narration was great and kept me entertained. This author does a great job with her character builds and plot. I love her style of writing and look forward to reading more of her books. I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • JK
  • 15-05-19

Great book to read .... even better to listen too

I am a HUGE fan of this book. I love the series and The Damsel was such an amazing way to end it. I'd put my Bluetooth headphones on while cleaning, working out or if I was in the car I'd connect my phone and enjoy the story. Cassandra's pain is so palpable. I loved Robert from the beginning. I loved how Victoria starts this book with the beginnings of his life....and boy did I tear up with that. I loved that his father would do anything to make his wife happy so he kept trying to give her children. Cassandra is a strong, kick ass woman who has endured hell and is become a secret warrior. I love that Robert sees her strength and lets her be who she needs to be. This story made me smile, cry, fan myself and just scream give me more!!! I really didn't want this book to end.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • cheryl
  • 14-05-19

Everything you could want from a story.


Oh my! What a rollercoaster of emotions I went through while listening to this story! I had always liked Robert from the previous book. He was strong enough to put others first regardless of his own feelings. Robert had experienced his own share of loss and I really felt for Cassandra, to have suffered and not to have the support of her family. Little wonder she wanted to have control over her own destiny. Robert and Cassandra were just right for each other but could Cassandra let go of her demons to realise this? This story has some very tense moments, danger and passion. An excellent audiobook that fulfills all I could want in a story. The narrator, Darcy Stark, read the story very well, bringing each scene to life. He had an easy voice to listen to.

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  • Listener
  • 13-05-19

Great book and hot as heck

There are just no words for this one.. well there are, but I think I'd be censored for it!

Each time I read or listen to one of Victoria Vales books, I think "this is the best yet", until I read/listen to the next one.. So which would be for favourite of this series.. I have no idea!! But this one was sooooooo gooood! In fact, if I could use explicit language, I would.

Lady Cassandra, one of Bertrem Fairchilds abuse victims, decides to take matters into her own hands and she's calling the shots.. In no way will she ever let a man control her. After testifying in court regarding Bertrem's abuse, she's the outcast and shunned, not only by society, but by her family as well.

Robert Stanley is mending a broken heart and stumbles into a bar where nobody would know him.. Lady Cassandra spots him and decides he will be hers for the night.. Lady Cassandra has so much hurt and anger in her after her treatment from Bertrem Fairchild, that she just hates men and they will pay for what happened to her... Robert paid and big time and loved every minute of it.

Cassandra and Robert start an affair, but on Cassandra's terms only. She only wants sex, no emotional attachment.. Robert on the other hand, can't get Cassandra out of his head.

This is a different twist, where the female is the dominant and the male is the submissive, and it works perfectly for them.

Darcy Starks narration was spot on.. and I enjoyed the full book..

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Katie Thompson
  • 11-05-19

Stunning and Sexy

The story is beautifully emotional as well as gorgeously erotic. The very first part of the book, the birth and early life of Robert, will leave you close to tears. The rest of the book splits its time between exquisite pain in matters of the heart and just stunningly written scenes of steamy sex. Between a man mending his own heartbreak, and a woman taking back the power that was stripped from her.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Alyssa Lettiere
  • 25-10-19

Love conquers all

Darcy does a great job with his performance of the book keeping me engaged. Victoria wrote a great book with complex characters that grew from who they thought they were into who they truly were. I highly recommend this book to anyone.

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  • Wabi Sabi
  • 26-09-19

A New Fav

Wonderful and exciting! I ordered tese books back to back and still can't get enough!

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  • Desiree
  • 17-06-19

Great book to listen to

love this series. The narration was good. Love Darcy Stark. Happy Robert found his true love . To be loveing and submissive to the woman he loves. I enjoyed the back story of Robert and his family. Lady Cassandra is stong on the outside but still needs love also she need to show that's she is in control. To show that no man will take from her again after what Berterm did to her. Then becoming a outast by family an scoity. Robert shows Cass that she can find love . He is willing to prove it to her. To be her submissive. Robert is a stong man to know what a woman need and give it to her. This was a good audio book. I will be listening to it again .

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  • Katie
  • 05-06-19

An interesting twist on the Vale formula..........

The Damsel is the fourth book in this romance series set in Regency Britain, but it can easily be enjoyed as a standalone. With Vale, I am used to the over-the-top alpha male with a strong but dominated female. This story is the exact opposite: Robert plays the submissive to Cassandra in the bedroom. We met Robert in the first two books in the series, and I wasn't overly impressed. I thought that he was shallow and self absorbed; taking all of his good fortune as an aristocrat for granted. However, in this book, I fell in love with Robert's sweet and caring personality, and Vale introduced enough of his family history that so many of his actions and traits made sense. In this story, Cassandra was the one that I started out disliking. She seemed unnecessarily cruel and harsh, and I did not like her for Robert at all. However, with her usual magic, Vale made these two seemingly completely incompatible people blend into the perfect couple in the end. Of course, the road to get to that HEA was a long and bumpy one! If you enjoy a romance with lots of historical flavor, plenty of angst and drama, some extraordinarily hot love scenes and a touch of dangerous and intrigue, you can't make a better choice than The Damsel or really anything written by Victoria Vale.

Darcy Stark narrates all the books in the series, and he is an amazing narrator. He is perfect for the male characters with his deep, rich baritone, but he also handles the female roles well. His performance is flawless and smooth, and his tone enhances the mood of every scene. I would definitely listen to another of his performances in the future.

I received a copy of this audiobook at my request in exchange for this honest review.