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The Mésalliance

Rockliffe, Book 2
Narrated by: Alex Wyndham
Series: Rockliffe, Book 2
Length: 9 hrs and 59 mins
Categories: Fiction, Sagas
4.5 out of 5 stars (123 ratings)

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Summary

The Duke of Rockliffe is 36 years old, head of his house, and responsible for his young sister, Nell. He is, therefore, under some pressure to choose a suitable bride. Whilst accompanying Nell to what he speedily comes to regard as the house-party from hell, he meets Adeline Kendrick - acid-tongued, no more than passably good-looking yet somehow alluring. Worse still, her relatives are quite deplorable - from a spoiled, ill-natured cousin to a sadistic, manipulative uncle. As a prospective bride, therefore, Adeline is out of the question. Until, that is, a bizarre turn of events cause the Duke to throw caution to the wind and make what his world will call a mésalliance.

©2016 Stella Riley (P)2016 Stella Riley

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  • Caz
  • Frinton-on-Sea
  • 19-03-16

A charming Georgian romance, expertly narrated

The Duke of Rockliffe is 36, handsome, wealthy and the epitome of gentlemanly elegance and good manners. He needs to find himself a wife, but unfortunately, he has yet to meet the lady who won't bore him witless. When an unscrupulous, spoiled débutante attempts to trap him into marriage, her plan goes awry when she is thwarted by her downtrodden cousin, Adeline - who becomes the recipient of Rockliffe's offer of marriage instead when the pair are discovered in a compromising position.

Adeline is no beauty, but there is something about her strength of character and defiantly waspish tongue that attracts the duke, and he is surprised to discover that he can make an offer of marriage to her with no misgivings. The wedding takes place quickly, but Adeline, taught by life to be cautious, is wary of revealing the depth of her feelings for him to her new husband, and asks for time to become accustomed to marriage before they consummate the union.

Not without difficulty, Rockliffe agrees, deciding to give Adeline the courtship she missed out on - but just as things seem to be going his way, Adeline's smarmy uncle tells her a secret about her past and threatens to reveal it to her husband if she doesn't pay him to keep quiet. This sets off a series of misunderstandings that threaten to spiral out of control, and it becomes difficult to see how things can ever be put right.

I'm not not wild about the Big Misunderstanding in romances, but I've been a fan of Stella Riley's for a long time, and I knew that she would make it work. The story gets very angsty, but she handles it extremely well, especially when it comes to Rockliffe, a man famous for his sang-found, but who finds himself getting closer and closer to the edge. All in all, the writing is intelligent and charming and the characterisation strong; there are a couple of sweet secondary romances along the way, as well as a mystery for Rockliffe to uncover in France. It's a terrific story, and is made even better by Alex Wyndham's superb performance. His interpretation of Rockliffe is spot on - he's unhurried, unruffled (until he isn't!) and does a brilliant job in conveying the tumult of emotion that is bubbling under the surface of his polished exterior.

The book has a fairly large cast of secondary characters, but Mr Wyndham rises to the challenge with aplomb, because every single one - whether male or female - is clearly delineated and easy to identify. I've listened to him a number of times now, and he is just getting better and better.

The Mésalliance is another must-listen for fans of this author and narrator combination and for fans of historical romance in general.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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A great story, great characters & beautifully read

What did you like most about The Mésalliance?

The characters have real depth - even the small parts - and you understand their motivations and can really engage with them emotionally. The historic period also 'lives' without sounding like a dull history lesson - you enjoy the background and it enhances the overall story.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Rockcliffe - of course - but also the heroine who manages to have character and wit and be a good foil to the hero. The cast of lesser characters also 'live' in their own right, as well as telling you things about the hero and heroine.

What about Alex Wyndham’s performance did you like?

His ability not to intrude himself onto the story while making every character live' in their own right. There is never a problem knowing who is talking and whether they are inwardly thinking or talking out loud and the women are women not high pitched-speaking wimps!

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

The part where Adeline sees Rock for the first time with his hair un-powdered (a scene nicely echoed in reverse a little later) and when Rock finally loses it at the end and displays his real feelings.

Any additional comments?

It is rare to run across a book where the characters have such depth and which combines humour and witty dialogue with a strong sense of period - overall a delight and highly recommended.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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LOVED IT!

The hero was sexy and adorable, heroine a bit frustrating but a great conclusion!
Great cast of characters and the narration was spot on as usual. Alex Wyndham is excellent!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Stella Riley & Alex Wyndham – A ‘Tour de Force’

Any additional comments?

Stella Riley & Alex Wyndham – A ‘Tour de Force’

The second book in Stella Riley’s Rockliffe series narrated by Alex Wyndham is a true ‘Tour de Force’.

Once again Ms Riley’s characterisation is superb and the story flows along like a gentle stream with Rockliffe – brilliantly narrated by Alex Wyndham – looking for a wife but just sauntering through life with his usual languid air.

Suddenly he meets Adeline Kendrick, described as no raving beauty but very sharp and fascinating, which is something Rockliffe finds frustratingly attractive.

The story then unfolds as Rockliffe falls desperately in love with Adeline and she with him. But as usual there are challenges along the way and problems to be encountered.

And it is here where Stella Riley and Alex Wyndham score emphatically. The writing throughout is extremely stylish, the dialogue is natural, often witty and the characters are so well-drawn and so supremely narrated by Alex Wyndham that you feel you know them personally.

The book is well paced, the love story stunningly handled and when we come to the denouement and Rockcliffe’s true feelings are shown in the last chapter, we finally see him completely unravel. Everything he’s felt and thought for months comes pouring out in a torrent of emotion – and, if I have a favourite bit, it was this - handled with absolute perfection by Mr. Wyndham.

A true ‘Tour de Force’.

I believe Ms Riley’s third audible book in the Rockliffe series ‘The Player’ is coming soon and I for one just can’t wait for it to be released.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Brilliant

Stella Riley is such great novelist and this story is well up to her high standard. Alex Wyndham’s performance does excellent justice to her storytelling and I cannot recommend this highly enough!

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fun, but no Georgette heyer.

This was fun, but not as good as Georgette heyer. A bit purple prosey and not as funny.

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Simply superb!

This lovely and deeply emotional romance tells the story of a marriage of convenience between the handsome, elegant, sophisticated Duke of Rockliffe (Rock) and the totally unsuitable, acid-tongued Adeline Kendrick.

Rock’s desire to win Adeline’s love, his protectiveness, patience and consideration, all make him such a gorgeous hero. These two are perfect for each other which makes it all the more heart-breaking to see their marriage slowly deteriorate beneath the weight of Adeline’s secrets and her unwillingness to trust and confide in Rock. The scenes between Rock and Adeline are so powerfully written and Ms. Riley captures all the raw emotions of anger, fear, hurt and frustration. The scene where everything finally comes to a head was a real tour-de-force and seeing the normally unflappable Rock completely lose his control is definitely the highlight of the book for me.

Narration: I felt as if I was listening to a radio play performed by several actors instead of just one person because Alex Wyndham gives each character such a distinctive and easily identifiable voice and listening to his superb performance definitely enhanced my enjoyment of the book.

Ms Riley weaves an intricate and compelling story which Alex Wyndham brings superbly to life.

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Preferred the first book, but enjoyable.

The same main characters are joined with some new ones, who are equally interesting.
I just love the narrator and feel he adds alot to the story. It could be he reads it as, I felt it should sound, when I first read the book.
I like the first book better as the story appealed to me more.

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Best in the series

Two beautiful characters. A perfect match for Rock, and a frustrating but addictive story of marriage. Such a rewarding listen.

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  • SMc
  • United Kingdom
  • 21-09-16

Great throughly enjoyed

I enjoyed the book and I enjoyed the performance although the female accents sounded somewhat wimpy.

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  • Maine Knitter
  • 21-04-16

Awesome narration.

Awesome narrator! Impressive Duke. Heroine with too many secrets and mistrust in said Duke.

This started so well. Sure, the "compromise" was a bit contrived but it worked. The later part of the book bogged down way too much with keeping secrets and all of those ramifications. It became tiresome and I disliked Adeline a lot.

The saving grace was the narrator. I could listen to Alex Wyndham read a cereal box!

15 of 16 people found this review helpful

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  • 1CheekyLass
  • 16-03-16

The first half was great but......

Would you try another book from Stella Riley and/or Alex Wyndham?

YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

Minimized the misunderstandings

What does Alex Wyndham bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Everything. He's great.

Was The Mésalliance worth the listening time?

Eh... Yes

Any additional comments?

This story had such great characters. For the first half of the book or so, it was great and showed great potential. Then, the author made a turn onto MISUNDERSTANDING LANE which happened to be a dead end. I can't understand why this particular misunderstanding consumed the entire second half of the book. It became tedious and repetitive.

The author could have shortened the book to bring the issue to a head faster or she could have exposed the reason for the misunderstanding and masterfully created a rouse to expose the villain which would have allowed a longer book without all of the angst. Rockliffe deserved so much better than what he got. I fell in love with his character in The Parfait Knight and I still love him. Adeline had potential at the beginning and I really liked her.. she was sharp tongued and charming but by the end, she was a shell of the character I fell in love with.

Of course every romance book has a HEA but be warned it'll come after chapters of tedium.

The narrator is AMAZING. No complaints about Alex Wyndham's performance. He's masterful. I could listen to him all day!

First half of the story: 5

Second half of the story: 1

Overall story: 3

Narration: 5

20 of 22 people found this review helpful

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  • noagnes
  • 20-02-18

Emotionally gripping, intense Georgian love story

Any additional comments?

This is the story of the title character of the series (I recommend to read the books in order: although the main stories are standalones, the secondary characters make more sense that way), the Duke of Rockliffe. The mesalliance of the title is even worse than just that: it appears a forced marriage based on a compromise scene - but in truth, the two protagonists are intensely drawn to each other from the first, and are soon head over heels in love with each other. The problem is, neither dares to tell the other so. There is the threat of a scandal, a blackmail from an unscrupulous uncle, two other secondary and tertiary couples whose problems heap even more difficulties on Rockliffe and Adeline, and only a spectacular showdown of scandal and the acutest misery of hurting and being hurt by their beloved one can break down their barriers to finaly talk to each other.
Rockliffe is compared to Georgette Heyer's heroes by many readers, and in fact, he is very much like them: sharp intellect and strength of character veiled by ducal arrogance and fashionable ennui, a cutting wit, suaveness and self-possession. However, I have never seen this type of hero to fall apart so completely, to be so vulnerable to the woman he loves as he is shown in this book.
Many readers complain that the Adeline makes so many stupid mistakes that she doesn't deserve Rockliffe. I'd argue that he makes equally bad mistakes which aren't so spelled out as hers. Yes, she falls prey easily to the blackmail, she fails to trust her husband and the reason is somewhat weak.nBut he is also so immersed in his own hurt of feeling rejected by her, that he doesn't notice her torment and her being threatened. He accuses her of confiding in his friends rather than in him, and is jealous of his own friends making improper advances on her - when in fact, they are only giving her the help and comfort he denies her. The part of distrust and estrangement goes on for rather long, I even doubted the possibility of creditable resolution, but their stark admissions on love and their instant forgiveness when it came to the reconciliation truly carried the day and was convincing as well as satisfying.
I listened to the audio version, and the narrator is really excellent - he brings all characters to life, gives them their own voice and conveys all nuances of the elaborate urbaneness of the Georgian aristocracy, the humor and the emotional intensity - which is beautifully formulated in the author's excellent style.
I loved it and recommend it to all fans of historical romance.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Karina
  • 24-06-16

Couldn't stop listening

I thouroughly enjoyed this book! I loved the plot, the side stories and the excellent performance of the narrator.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Robin
  • 18-06-16

More to it than the average romance

This series really appeals to me for a couple of reasons. Alex Wyndham is a wonderful narrator. Also the hero and heroine are surrounded by a cast of friends and family, some of whom appear in other books. This gives it more depth and I really enjoy the importance of friendship. In some romances, the main characters seem to live in a vacuum. There also is some humor, which I always enjoy. I'm looking forward to the next book.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • BOOKTALK WITH EILEEN
  • 13-04-17

Marvelously Written With Nary a Moment of Ennui

Any additional comments?

A blogger colleague of mine suggested I read Stella Riley. I was privileged to win a copy of book two of the Rockcliffe series. This exciting listening went beyond my expectations and I'm delighted to be introduced to Stella Riley.

Quickly, we are caught up in the times. With the stifling necessity of being polite, Duke of Rockliffe’s tongue is so well laced with sarcasm expressed in a calm, mild tone, one wonders if the sarcasm is real! Rockliffe’s wit and humor are well-played by narrator Alex Wyndham, always delivered in a sang froid tone.

Rockliffe is creative with his own enjoyment when invited to a house-party accompanying his sister Nell. She is a handful and must keep her out of her usual mischief.

The ton prize themselves in speaking with complete ennui, particularly, the upper-crust gentlemen. I certainly didn’t have a drop listening to this lively, spirited story sweeping me into events of the times!

It seems Nell’s best friend Diana is in the market for a groom. She is a conniving little thing, annoying and eventually becomes quite desperate to catch someone in her first Season. Her eye is on Rockcliffe.

Conversely, her twin, is amiable, mild-mannered, trying to keep Diana from doing too much mischief. She has a softer heart and treats Adeline with more civility.

Adeline Kendrick is a bit like a Cinderella. She is relegated to an upper servant in her aunt’s home, mother to Diana and Althea. Once Rockcliffe catches on about her position in the family, he’s a bit put off by the snobbishness of Lady Franklin and Diana. He goes out of his way to be nice to her—the story takes off from there.

I love the duke’s fetish of snuff boxes – how they become a focal point in awkward or annoying conversations. I actually snickered during the read.

Narrator Alex Wyndham makes the total experience of this book one of perfection. His timing, tone, pacing and his completely believable performance rates him in my opinion as one go-to narrator. I’ve listened to his work before with other authors – he’s simply marvelous.

And now I need to back track to read book one of the series. I highly recommend this author and what I've read in reviews, this series. Her writing style is lively, not heavily laden with description. Her character development are the driving force of the read.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Patricia Lassiter
  • 15-06-16

A delightful nonsensical story.

What a great book to listen to while doing a craft project or housework. Clever and whitty and the perfect ending. Book 2.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Beth B
  • 26-05-16

ABFAB

I loved the continuation of the series, wonderful characters, superb writing and amazing narration. One of the things I enjoy about Stella Riley's writing is the thoughtfulness of the main male character. Although Rockcliffe has a temper, he cools down and works out other possible reasons for Adeline's behavior and trusts in her inherent goodness (most of the time) . So often male characters in HR novels are total idiots until the very end and never think logically at all. I find a thinking man with an ironic sense of humour much more appealing and interesting. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it highly. I could also listen to Alex Wyndham recite the phone book - he is that good.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Caz
  • 27-03-16

Stella Riley & Lucinda Brant are DIFFERENT people!

Where does The Mésalliance rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Definitely one of my all-time favourites. The story is brilliantly constructed and is filled with wonderfully rounded and engaging characters; and Alex Wyndham's performance is sublime.

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Mésalliance?

Towards the end when Rockliffe's much vaunted control begins to snap. Alex Wyndham is just brilliant in conveying the sense that the character is close to the edge without turning him into a completely different character.

Which character – as performed by Alex Wyndham – was your favorite?

Rockliffe - no contest:)

Any additional comments?

One reviewer here states that Stella Riley and Lucinda Brant are the same person. They most definitely are NOT. The Mésalliance was originally published in 1990 and was then revised and republished by Ms Riley in 2012.
Just because two authors happen to use the same narrator and set their books in similar time periods doesn't mean they must be the same person. And incidentally their writing styles are very different.

10 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • Cam
  • 22-03-16

Alex Wyndham rocked my world again

I can NOT explain and do it justice as to how AW's portrayal of the hero leaves you completely beguiled and in love. This in conjunction with Stella Riley (Lucinda Brant, 😉) ability to write the most clever dialogue I have seen in a long while. Absolutely brilliantly written characters. I only wish she never stops writing. Although I see similarities in her hero's characters and to some extent her heroins, I still adore her books. My only dislike is having to wait for the next book in the series. Thank you both for providing some of my most enjoyable moments.

9 of 12 people found this review helpful