Thigh High by Christina Dodd
Narrated by Natalie Ross
When Jeremiah “Mac” MacNaught goes undercover in New Orleans for the bank he owns, he’s got a major lust-on for his bank’s employee Nessa Dahl but he’s also convinced she’s behind the annual Mardi Gras robberies, something he finds detestable. Nessa is working hard to help her eccentric great-aunts get out of debt, which is hard to do when her immediate boss is almost as difficult to work for as the bank’s owner. She’s assisting Mac (in disguise as the insurance inspector) in solving the robberies.
I rate narrator Natalie Ross a cut above run-of-the-mill, and her southern accents are generally good. I really enjoyed her narration of a Linda Howard favorite, After the Night, also set in Louisiana. She articulates Thigh High’s characters with age and gender-appropriate voices, even if I do have a quibble with some pronunciations and out-of-place or overdone local accents (I lived in south Louisiana). But these aren’t just characters, they are Characters. That being said, when a narrator is faced with the aunts from Arsenic and Old Lace, how else could she go about creating them in audio?
Christina Dodd is a new-to-me author and I wondered if her style in writing this Romantic Suspense was intended to be beyond-quirky comedy, or more like Linda Howard, whose realistically drawn characters are often in extremely humorous situations. I did laugh out loud a few times, but generally, the story veered sharply away from realism with the antics of heroine Nessa’s aunts. Was it comedy or tragedy? Suspense or allegory? Even after it was over, I couldn’t make up my mind. But the combination of intermittent humor with stock characters, love scenes that seemed without sufficient motivation, and a creepy villain not associated with any of the ongoing conflicts had me confused and kept this story from rising above a C for story.