Thursday, September 21, 2017

Audiobook Review: Provoked (Enlightenment #1) by Joanna Chambers

36074597Title: Provoked

Author: Joanna Chambers

Narrator: Hamish McKinlay

Released: 14th August 2017

Length: 5 hrs and 52 mins

Genre: M/M (historcal / thriller)

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Synopsis

When a man loses his heart, he has no choice but to follow…

Enlightenment, Book 1

Lowborn David Lauriston lacks the family connections needed to rise in Edinburgh’s privileged legal world. Worse, his latest case—defending weavers accused of treason—has brought him under suspicion of harbouring radical sympathies.
Troubled by his sexuality, tormented by memories of a man he once platonically loved, David lives a largely celibate life—until a rare sexual encounter with a compelling stranger turns his world on its head.

Cynical and worldly, Lord Murdo Balfour is more at home in hedonistic London than dingy, repressed Edinburgh. Unlike David, he intends to eventually marry while continuing to enjoy the company of men whenever he pleases. Yet sex with David is different. It’s personal, intimate, and instead of extinguishing his desire, it only leaves him hungry for more.

As David’s search for the man who betrayed the weavers deepens, he begins to suspect that his mysterious lover has more sinister reasons for his presence in Edinburgh. The truth could leave his heart broken…and more necks stretching on the gallows.

Warning: Contains mystery and danger set in 1822 Scotland, and a forbidden love between two men that will leave you on the edge of your seat—until the next book.

STORY

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NARRATION

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Mark’s Review

What an absolute delight this book is, right from  the beginning I was invested in the story and it’s characters. I love my historical novels but give it a good plot, vibrant characters and a wonderful historical setting then you have me hook, line and sinker.

Set in Edinburgh in 1822 working class people, particularly weavers in Scotland, sought action to reform an uncaring government due to an economic downturn after the wars ended. The gentry fearing revolutionary horrors recruited militia and the government deployed an apparatus of spies and informers to stamp out the movement. First of all don’t worry, there is no need to have a great degree of historical knowledge and this is what I love about the author’s writing most. Joanna manages to capture the spirit and mood of the time without forcing historical facts down the reader’s throats. You get all the information you need to know for the period without it ever getting lecture like or teachery. This in my opinion makes for a good historical novel as you are not bogged down in detail but can enjoy the story and characters in their setting.

It is in this setting that we meet the MCs Lauriston and Balfour. Lauriston is an advocate and has worked his way up through the classes as he comes from a farming family. Lord Murdo Balfour is your typical aristocrat, born into money and belonging to the ruling classes. A friend of Lauritson asks for his help whose brother is a convicted weaver and about to be deported. At least that is better than getting hanged as was the fate of many others. A government agent had ratted out his brother and he wants to expose his identity and confront this agent. His brother was the one funding his education through university and he has now fallen on hard times. He needs Lauriston’s help to find this agent. The plot is full of political intrigue, it takes a little while to get going but once Lauriston’s friend gets nearer to his target then we are treated to a wonderful style thriller and had me on the edge of my seat wanting to see justice served.

The MCs are two very contrasting characters, Lauriston with his background is very much the idealist and knows that although his tendencies for men in his eyes are a mortal sin, still “lapses” as he calls it. His morals come from his working class background and he thoroughly believes that it would be unfair to marry a woman if he can’t love them. Lord Murdo on the other hand is a lot more open, risqué and bohemian in his attitude to his preferences possibly stemming from the fact that he has enough money not to care. What I love about historical novels, depending on the period, is the internal struggles that many men went through trying to accommodate their natural urges with the moral and accepted standards of society at that time. Here Lauriston is always battling with himself, after having sex with a man the self-incriminations and guilt bubble to the surface never letting him really savour the moment after the event. Lord Murdo definitely comes from your ruling classes and is all alpha male. He seems to play with Lauriston in many ways like a cat plays with a mouse but Lauriston is obviously stronger than this. For me Lord Murdo has a kind of predatory nature, he knows how to play the men he meets and is always used to getting his way.

This all makes for a delicious dynamic between the two MCs and not forgetting the customs of the time, it would be expected that both men marry and have a family. In Murdo’s case to continue the family line and for Lauriston’s to further his career. When setting a story in an historical period with all its conventions of class, attitudes and ethics for this time it’s possible to play with a whole set of emotions and dynamics in characters that would have no place in today’s situation. This is why I love my historical novels. Put this into the hands of a capable author like Joanna Chambers and the story is a treat from beginning to end. This is the first book and whether Lauriston and Lord Murdo meet again and manage to carve out a HEA for themselves in this time will have to be seen. I guess I’m just going to have to read the following books to find out how this plays out with these two MCs.

NARRATION

Hamish McKinley is new narrator to me and his voice is a joy to listen to. Of course with such a novel as this then it needs a Scottish accent. Hamish does a wonderful job and with a name like his it obviously couldn’t be more Scottish. He brings the characters to life and I could here the subtle Scottish inflexions in his narration. This I found wonderful as it is still easy to understand if you are not used to it. The only thing for my ears was that although in the narrative parts of the book you could hear a very subtle, natural Scottish lilt I sometimes felt the characters’ dialogues and the voices he gave them a little confused. What I mean by this is the Scottish really didn’t come over for my ears. I wouldn’t have naturally placed them as a Scottish accent to be honest. As always it’s very much a subjective thing but for me personally the accent of the characters could have been just a little more “Scottish” without it going into the realms of inaudibility or not understanding due to a too heavy dialect. However, after all is said and done it was a treat to listen too and I would be more then delighted to listen to any book narrated by Hamish in the future.

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Audio Excerpt


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Meet Joanna Chambers

Joanna Chambers always wanted to write. In between studying, finding a proper grown up job, getting married and having kids, she spent many hours staring at blank sheets of paper and chewing pens. That changed when she rediscovered her love of romance and found her muse. Joanna's muse likes red wine, coffee and won't let Joanna clean the house or watch television.

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Audiobook Purchase Links

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Ebook Purchase Links

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1 comment:

  1. Great review of a powerful and compelling story. Bravo Ms. Chambers, I love your choice of narrator and he captures Davy perfectly IMO. Can't wait for the rest of the series to be released in audio.

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