I don’t write as many reviews as I probably should, so it’s nice to get into it once in a while. You can find this book on Audible.
Disclaimer: this audiobook was received for free in exchange for an honest review
Benedict Rutland, the Earl of Rothay, is disciplined, determined, and has successfully rebuilt his family fortune – with no help from his rather more generous mother (Lucilla) . Life is shipshape, and his betrothed a perfectly sensible match, Miss Theodora Pinchbeck
Then Miss Phoebe Skeffington-Fox arrives, beautiful, mouthy, and showing excellent taste in her expensive acquisitions. As the beloved stepdaughter of a recently deceased uncle, she has been taken in by Benedict’s mother and brings discomfort and chaos in her wake by daring to have a personality.
But worse even than that, suddenly, nothing can be quite what it was as death’s claws begin to grip the family, and Benedict and Phoebe find themselves at the pointy end of accusing fingers.
I’ll be honest here, I’m rarely a fan of cishet romance tales, especially set in this period, as they tend towards both the tropey and the sexist, but I do enjoy a good murder mystery, and Leech imbues Phoebe with more personality and strength than the cardboard cutout I expected, which was refreshing.
Benedict is kind of an arse, as you would expect. The frivolity of his mother, Phoebe and the young twins plays nicely off of his attitude to the world around him, as does the tightlaced attitude of his of his fiance, as the plot develops.
While there’s nothing new here, Leech’s voice is polished and weaves the interconnected parts of the story well. More than that, I was entertained throughout, with more than a few chuckles. It was clear that Leech enjoyed painting the characters and their interactions, carefully picking out both the frustrations and the pleasantries to show the reader.
Moreover the story knows just what it is. Both the romance and the mystery build slowly alongside each other as the tale makes it way towards a climax (pun definitely intended), without feeling rushed or forced. Leech’s skill at this is evident at all stages.
As to the narration, Marzilli is excellent. As a student of accent, and a long-time voiceover artist, he is able to give each character a distinct voice and rhythm of speech, without falling into the usual traps of exaggerated intonation. Instead he subtly distinguishes between character classes, locales and types, whilst never leaving the reader behind as he switches. There a few hesitations in the flow of his speech that could have benefitted from another pass, but nothing to ruin the enjoyment of listening.
In all, an enjoyable experience, would definitely recommend.