Monday, January 3, 2011

First Comes Marriage by Mary Balogh ***

First Comes Marriage (Huxtable Quintet, #1)First Comes Marriage by Mary Balogh

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'm listening to the Huxtable Quintet series in order, so that I can do an actual review of the new release of #5. I've liked the handful of Baloghs I've read to date, but have mixed feelings about narrator Anne Flosnik, so I approached this task with not a little trepidation.

As a setup for a series, there was a lot of introduction to do - meet all of the Huxtables, and probably some of their future mates, although the first book deals with Vanessa, the widowed middle daughter, and Elliott, Viscount something-or-other in line for a dukedom. We learn that the 4 Huxtable siblings have been living in near poverty in a small village, and that the youngest, Stephen, has become an earl much to the surprise of everyone. Apparently the Huxtable grandfather was estranged from his family and no one ever thought Stephen might be in line for the title. Elliott is the guardian of the Stephen as the new earl.

Flosnik's narration wasn't nearly as off-putting as some of her Julie Garwood and Elizabeth Lowell medievals, thank gawd, but somehow I kept wondering if I might have enjoyed reading in print more. She has a sort of plodding way of narrating, almost as if someone has asked her to slow down, or read by metronome. She did use different voices for the characters, with her Margaret/eldest daughter voice being the low gravelly voice of a much older woman, and even Vanessa's voice pitched too low for being all of 24. The story itself, in the midst of changing the Huxtable way of life and meeting everyone, had very little in the way of actual conflict - it's a marriage of convenience that takes a long time to develop into a HEA, and not a particularly convincing one at that.

At least Flosnik didn't do that awful, dramatic dragging out of final syllables like she does in Garwood and Lowell - whew! Still, 3 stars - ok, not great, that's for both the story and the narration.

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