4 “Appearances Can Be Deceiving” Stars for the Story and 4.5 Stars for the Narration.
The Duke is the fourth book in Kerrigan Byrne’s Victorian Rebel’s Series. I’ve enjoyed each of these books, though my favorite still remains the first. I’ve also admired and become a bigger fan of Derek Perkin’s narrations as this series has wore on. In particular, I feel like Mr. Perkin’s female characterizations have greatly improved with each new installment.
Interestingly whereas each one of the prior heroes featured a rebel in some way, The Duke seems to have the least of this characteristic. Instead in this novel we have a Duke, Collin Talmage the Duke of Trenwyth, who although he obtains that title unexpectedly after his brother the expected heir dies, continues with his military/espionage activities and pays dearly for his service when he is captured and brutally tortured.
It’s clear that this experience changes him into a bitter and less forgiving character particularly to the one woman, Imogene Pritchard, a woman he believed to be a prostitute, but who he actually paid to unknowingly take her virtue (she was a barmaid indentured to a brothel to pay off her father’s debt and made it clear that’s all she would do, but at the astonishing rate of 20 pounds the owner gave her no choice). As luck would have it neither has forgotten the other. Indeed they’ve longed to find the other and have each used the memory of the other to get them through tough times.
So it is quite to Imogen’s surprise that when Collin awakens in the hospital where she works as a nurse (her real job), he doesn’t recognize her. Moreover he is incredibly hostile to her even though she’s the one that pleads his cause and determines his true ailment saving his life in the process; only earning her a quick dismissal in the process. Could there possibly be a HEA under the circumstances?
Derek Perkins does a great job of narrating The Duke. One aspect which I always look for in a good narration is distinguishable characters. Mr. Perkins not only does this for the male characters but he also does this for Imogen and the other female characters and manages to create genuine sounding female characters in the process. Mr. Perkins also infuses his reading with appropriate emotion and allows the listener to feel the mood of the scene through just his intonation, pacing and rendition.
All in all I enjoyed the Duke, though not as much as prior installments. In particular I liked the patient/nurse spin of the story. However I felt that it had a very busy plot overall. In fact what I describe above is only about half of the story as Ms. Byrne uses some convenient coincidences to create what seems almost like a second story two years after the hospital scene I described above. It was just hard to believe that fate had their paths cross three separate times (first at the brothel, then the hospital, and two year later as neighbors). Nonetheless, I’m glad I listened to this story and will definitely be looking forward to listening to more of Byrne’s works in the future.
Source: Review copy provided for review purposes.