Friday, January 27, 2017

Audiobook Review: Slightly Wicked by Mary Balogh

Series:     Bedwyn Saga #2
Pub. Date:Dec. 20, 2016
Publisher:Tantor Audio
Narrator:Rosalyn Landor
Length:11 hrs 28 min

Slightly Wicked is the second book in the Bedwyn Saga, and takes place not long after the end of Slightly Married as Rannulf Bedwyn is on the road to his grandmother's house when he comes upon a carriage accident and a beautiful maiden that he simply must "rescued." 

Judith Law is one of four daughters of a country vicar whose son is causing the family financial ruin. To lessen the financial burden of having so many mouths to feed, they send Judith to live with wealthier members of the family, where Judith will be an glorified servant and companion to her grandmother. And man, was her (extended) family absolutely horrid. Snobby and jealous and self-important and smarmy. With one look at Judith's gorgeous red hair and voluptuous build, her aunt orders her to wear dowdy hats and dresses, perpetuating the idea that Judith is offensive to the eye. I felt so bad for Judith. She had horrible self esteem but was a genuinely good person. The only bright spot in that viper's den was her grandmother, who was somewhat eccentric and needy, but treated Judith like a beloved member of the family.

Rannulf Bedwyn is a younger brother of the Duke of Bedwyn, a third son who shirked the duty to join the church as is expected of most third sons. As the selected heir of his grandmother, Rannulf's future is fairly secure but he has been drifting through life without applying himself to anything in particular. After spending a passionate night with a woman he thought to be an actress, he is surprised to find her installed next door to his elderly grandmother. But Judith is a good influence on Rannulf, he starts to take his responsibilities seriously, even if that means he must court her cousin instead of the woman he really wants. I think Rannulf went through a nice period of personal growth and I enjoyed seeing his character transition from bachelorhood to thinking of family and future.

While Judith and Rannulf were intimately acquainted early in the story... this was not an instalove situation. They do not fall back into one another's arms on their next meeting, and their interactions are much more distant and standoffish for the bulk of the book. I felt bad for Judith having to watch Rannulf court her cousin, then felt bad for Rannulf in turn when Judith kept him at arm's length. But all the strife was worth it by the time the HEA rolled around.

This plot had a lot of arcs and I enjoyed that aspect very much. The villains were cast well, ranging from slight villain to smarmy baddy whom you really wanted to see get his just desserts. The narrator also did a good job with the characterization and performance of this story. Each character had their own distinct voice and personality, and the cadence and inflections helped keep my attention and interest for the duration of the audiobook.

I voluntarily reviewed an advanced copy of this audiobook from the publisher, Tantor Audio.