Daphne: The Six Sisters, Book 4 by M.C. Beaton
Charlotte Anne Dore narrates this book. Her voice is fitting for the Regency period in which the story takes place. As I listened to her, I wanted to stop the mp3 and go watch Sense and Sensibility. But while her performance with the narrative portion is well-done, her dialogue deliveries need work. There are times when her character portrayals are excellent and she moves smoothly from one voice to the next. But too often, especially at the beginning of the book, she changes the voice of the same character. The voice of an older woman becomes that of a younger woman, from one line to the next. One of the main male characters has about three different voices.
Such inconsistencies make it difficult to relax with her voice and give over to getting caught up in the book. If these issues don’t bother you, you’ll have no problems with this narrator. If they do and you want to listen to the story, anyway, it’s better to do so while you’re doing other things and are forced to focus more on the plot than the reader.
Ms. Dore has what it takes to be a great narrator. I applaud her ability to read in the masculine voice the way that she is able to do it. My recommendation to her is to listen to some of the great female narrators like Barbara Rosenblat, Laurel Merlington, and Davina Porter. These women know how to stay in the voice of a character from the start of a book until its finish.
As for the story itself: at times for me, it was jarring because of too many poor transitions from one scene to another. An event happens in a scene and then the reader is taken abruptly to a total new set of happenings without the slightest bit of explanation or necessary closure on the previous scene. It’s like walking down a flight of stairs and without warning, the next expected step isn’t there. The one after the missing one is there, and you’re forced to make a quick adjustment and jump down onto it, or in this case, to take off your headset and say, “Just forget it.” This doesn’t happen with every scene change, but when it does—well, I didn’t care for it.
So between the inconsistent narration and the jarring scene changes, why keep listening? Because most of the characters are fun and very entertaining; they are real people who are neither all good nor all bad; just believably human. One of them is hilarious, with enough outspokenness that she deserves her own book. In addition, I thoroughly enjoyed all the historic details interwoven unobtrusively into this fiction as well as the author’s descriptions of the setting, entertainments, and the costumes of that day. M.C. Beaton contexts the vocabulary of the Regency period in a way that makes it perfectly easy to understand, and I liked hearing all those archaic words. A few phrases sounded pretty modern, but maybe they’ve just survived each new century, like so many of today’s clichés that are inheriting eternal life.
The hero and heroine, when they have their moments together, are nice to listen in on. They mentally and emotionally rub each other just the way they need to, to make readers feel the attraction between them. As expected, sex scenes are nonexistent, except maybe there is a little encounter in there that might be called one.
The story line, in the places where it doesn’t jump the tracks, is filled with all the engaging ups and downs and subplots that make a Regency romance, action- and antics-driven as opposed to sustained by sexual tension.
Tension of any sort is not high until about three and half hours into the story. Before that time, there are some flirtations with it: like lightly stretching a rubber band and then cutting it with a pair of scissors. Yet, once this major conflict is introduced, it does a good job of keeping the story interesting until everything is resolved.
Overall, I would say, if you are into this series and you know and like the author’s writing style, then you’ll be happy with the book and you won’t want to miss Daphne’s story.
You can hear a sample of this book and also download it at Audible.com.
Bibliography: Daphne by M.C. Beaton
Length: 5 hrs. 42 minutes (unabridged)
Year of Audio-publication: 12-01-2012