It's recently occurred to me that I shared my S/Paul-on-the-way-to-Damascus conversion experience with The Prince of Midnight audiobook but how's it going with the rest of the Laura Kinsale audiobooks that have been released, you ask? Well, you would ask if you weren't busy having your own transcendent experiences with LK and narrator Nicholas Boulton. (You are, right? I mean, you've run right out and got your own Kinsale audiobooks, right?)
So this is how it played out for me in listening order:
SPOILERS! YE BE WARNED!
The Prince of Midnight
After the awesomeness of TPoM this was a step back. MM is not one of my favorites (not forgetting that there's no such thing as a bad Laura Kinsale book) and Shelby's voice... gah! I could never reconcile myself to it. With Merlin, one of my absolute fave Kinsale characters, I came around to NB's depiction even though I didn't like it at first. But Shelby! Just no! That is not his voice. Blech! I was able to forgive this when I heard Jacqueline's voice, though. What perfection! Merlin, Shelby, and Jacqueline make this book for me so two out of three ain't bad. I should also mention that I thought Ransom perfectly done. He sounded just like the overbearing asshat he is. And by the time he realizes he's an overbearing asshat the change in his voice reflected that. Speaking of asshattery, I got to Ransom burning the flying machine and tricking Merlin and had to take a break. These narrations bring the stories to life in a way that makes the difficult parts even more difficult to bear so what I can normally wince through reading I have to turn off when listening. Back to this one below...
Flowers From the Storm
I didn't really expect a repeat of TPoM perfection... I mean, how could NB actually get one of my precious Kinsale experiences exactly right twice??? That's asking too damn much but then I started listening and holy fuck HE DID IT AGAIN! HE FUCKING DID IT AGAIN!!! He nailed the aphasic speech, he brought Maddygirl to life in a way that made me love her even more (didn't even know that was possible), he captured the camaraderie of the three friends perfectly and the aunt!!!! Oh the aunt!!! She is divine! And the final speech in the Meeting House.... there are no words... except I'm going to try. I was fully prepared with finger-on-mute-button preparedness to turn that shit off if the final speech went south. But damn if it went as north as north could be and left me in tears. I've read this book at least a dozen times and never cried. I cried listening to Nicholas Boulton as Christian. My gosh, it was brilliant. Listening to FFtS has got to be one of the highlights of my lifelong affair with books.
Still reeling from FFtS, I wasn't ready to go back to Ransom's bullying so I waited for the next release.
The Dream Hunter
I don't have quite the attachment to this one that I have to TPoM and FFtS. So, fairly or unfairly, even though NB nails it again with this title, it didn't feel quite so much like he plucked my interpretation straight out of my head. Or maybe I wasn't as worried at this point, not quite sure. Also, Zenia spends a goodly portion of the second half of this novel upset. NB does a loud, angry female voice quite well but his loud, upset female voice tends to grate a little on the ear (I'd noticed this before but readers of TDH will know that a narrator issue like that would be more obvious here). I don't blame Zenia for her worries (Arden digs his own grave a bit on this one) and she's a refreshing heroine for acting like a regular person and reacting to what is right in front of her (vs. magically knowing that if she just gives a little then the hero will fall right into place) but I can never get over the kid thing. Poor Elizabeth stuck in her room and Zenia constantly denying Arden his right to see her just drives me crazy. Couple that with the voice issue and I ended up taking a break on this one, too. Plus, my heart just breaks for Zenia, Arden and Elizabeth (though thankfully she's too young to know what's happening:) when Zenia goes back to her father's house in London. Back to this one later... (including comments on my vote for sexiest scene narrated by this ridiculously sexy voice so far!)
My Sweet Folly
This was an enlightening experience. I had no idea I skipped so much when re-reading this book. There were passages I had straight-up forgotten about. I thought about this a lot while listening and figured out why by the end, but before that let's talk about just how much creepier Robert is when narrated! I realize the poor dear is being poisoned but even so, NB makes him downright scary! I was mentally shoving Folie and Melinda down the drive when they decided to make their escape. Get out, ladies! Get out while you can!
Real life had prevented me from getting to this one right away so at about this time the latest release came available and I love Folie because she's hilarious but there was no way I was delaying my chance at Melanthe, Ruck and Middle English. Back to this one soon...
For My Lady's Heart
Oh Melanthe, oh Ruck, oh Middle English! I become a puddle of mush in my love for you. And do you know what makes you better? (Did you even know that you could be better?) Nicholas Boulton. (At this point, I might be a little in love with NB.) Seriously, folks! Another home run. I was lucky enough to be able to focus solely on activities* that could be coupled with listening for this one, so I finished it in less than two days and then felt bereft when it was over. I wasn't ready. I wanted more Melanthe, more Ruck, more ME and more Cara. Yep, that's right! I needed more Cara. I admit, I've skipped her parts as often as not in my rereads of FMLH but in the audio I positively ached for her. As much as I could be a stand-in for any character in a Kinsale novel, she would definitely be the one I have the most in common with. In fact, I suspect she's even more brave than I would be in her situation and I could feel the hot panic of her breath while listening, making my heart pound like I really was there with her in danger. Amazing! Oh, and the poem (of a sort:) that Ruck makes up for Melanthe!!!! Brilliant!!!! (I really need a superlatives thesaurus at this point.) I've actually tried to read that out before and get the rhythm of it. I am a complete failure but NB performs it in all its glory. I wish I had a clip of just the poem in its entirety. I would listen and smile and think of Ruck and Melanthe slaying dragons.^
*sitting on my couch watching clouds float by out of my bay window counts as an activity, right?
^no dragons are actually slain in this book which I feel I should mention since dragons and zombies are almost expected in books these days
Return to My Sweet Folly
We've relocated to London now and Robert isn't going out of his mind, though Folie is still rightfully suspicious of his bizarre behavior, so mostly we're hanging out in Folie's head giggling our tushies right off listening to her jokes. Folie is such a delight. As I got closer and closer to the end of the book I realized that the reason I had forgotten entire sections is because I tend to re-read it like this: Prologue, any scene with Folie excepting love scenes directly after the wedding (because, seriously Robert, party foul!), the awesome ending with Lady Dingley's masterful performance, Epilogue. And with the audio there I was for every scene. And I mean every scene! And as fun as it was to hear all the voices of Robert's mentor there was still the flesh, flesh, flesh ([TM] all royalties to Beth) scenes with Robert right after the wedding and it was a little akin to Beth's nipple moment. I freaked out and could not stop obsessing over how NB read that scene aloud and so well. Damn, he's good. My burning question for NB used to be "what is your favorite Kinsale novel?' and it's now "how did you perform Folie asking 'please kiss...' and not evaporate?"
Return to Midsummer Moon
Turns out it was a complete mistake to take a break when I did because the end was the best! I find MM a little long when reading and so am not always wholly invested by the time the end comes but Merlin and Mr. Piminey held by The French! had me in stitches! Mr. Piminey (sp? can't remember if this is right) was a riot. I loved his voice! Just cannot praise NB enough. His talent is staggering. And, bonus! Shelby's voice undergoes a miraculous change from obnoxious to tolerable for the end. And Jacqueline's heart speech. Oh, I just love her!
Return to The Dream Hunter
Dear, dear Mr. Jocelyn gets wonderfully depicted here and, while I've never disliked him, it's hard to actually want to spend more time with a possible impediment to Mawwiage. But in this case I did because, you guessed it, Nicholas Boulton. However, he's a minor character and what we really want to focus on for the rest of this is the hilarious zoo incident (sorry Zenia, I am sure you weren't laughing but I was) and what has to be the sexiest scene so far - which is saying something when so many sexy scenes have been read out by a fucking sexy-as-sin voice. I was actually quite embarrassingly weak-kneed at Arden's voice for the entirety but that scene in the cottage when he's describing what he was thinking about at the zoo and talking about what delightful creatures females are... well, erm, ahem, let's just say this heterosexual cis-female was stirred.
To sum up: Laura Kinsale audiobooks highly recommended
Looks like I've got several weeks before the next title is out so my plan is to wile away the listening hours in this order: FFtS, FMLH, TPoM, MM, TDH, MSF
Author: Laura Kinsale
Narrator: Nicholas Boulton
Publisher: Hedgehog Inc (2013)
And check out the awesome NEW cover art for each title here.