Reviewed by Chris
TITLE: Wanted, A Gentleman
AUTHOR: K.J. Charles
NARRATOR: Greg Patmore
PUBLISHER: Riptide Publishing
LENGTH: 4hrs 40min
RELEASE DATE: August 17, 2017
The grand romance of Mr. Martin St. Vincent – a merchant with a mission. Also a problem, Mr. Theodore Swann – a humble scribbler and advertiser for love.
Act the first: the offices of the Matrimonial Advertiser, London, where lonely hearts may seek one another for the cost of a shilling.
Act the second: a pursuit to Gretna Green (or thereabouts) featuring a speedy carriage, sundry rustic, a private bedchamber.
In the course of which are presented romance, revenge, and redemption, deceptions, discoveries, and desires – the particulars of which are too numerous to impart.
While I have to say that I loved the ebook version of this story, it has got nothing on the audio book. If you combine the great writing style of K.J. Charles and the highly enjoyable voice narration of Greg Patmore, you were bound to have a hit. But I never expected just how well they would compliment each other and take this story past what individually they could have been.
Theodore Swann is a man who basically makes both his livings off people’s desire for love and happiness. By day he runs the Matrimonial Advertiser, which is basically what it says on the tin–a newspaper of sorts where all and sundry can pay for the chance at finding a match. At night, though, he takes his pen to paper and crafts romance novels with pretty young ladies, bland heroes, and evil–if ultimately doomed to fail–villains. Neither is bringing in the money, but it is enough–just enough–to get by. This all gets thrown into shambles when Martin St. Vincent storms through his shop doors and demands he reveal all about one of the couples using the Advertiser to set up a clandestine romance.
Martin, pressed into helping protect the beloved–if tad spoiled–daughter of his former owners, will stop at nothing to get what he wants. And if that includes threatening, cajoling, and bribing the slightly morally ambiguous advertising man, then he will do it. But Theo turns out to be a much bigger problem than ever expected–though not to the erstwhile daughter. For all that the man has a slippery feel, he is also kind to Martin. Listens to Martin. And even if he can’t understand–because who could ever understand being owned unless having gone through it themselves?–Theo is righteously angry on Martin’s behalf in a way that he has never experienced or expected before. And having to share space on their chase to Scotland to save the silly girl from herself, if not her intended as well, means that both men are forced into a shared confidence that probably would never had happened in any other circumstances.
It is a enterprise doomed to failure, no doubt. But it is a chase they can’t seem to stop themselves from making.
Up first, let’s just get this out of the way–as in, come on I just wanna talk about this!–the story.
Loved the whole premise of this book. It basically takes one of my favorite historical-tropes, the whole running away to get married thing, and turns it on its head so instead of being with the elopers, we are with the chasers. Thought this was very cool, because it is not a part of the trope we get to see very often, but it also just probably one of the few ways you can have this kind of story with two dudes in that time period.
On top of all that goodness you have some excellent writing in regards to both Theo and Martin’s pasts. They are certainly different in some significant ways, but I also loved the parts where they kinda mirrored each other and how that helped bridge the pretty big gap between them. Also, damn good writing in regards to Martin’s time as a slave. I really liked the mixed emotions that came out here in this story. How he feels–rightly–enraged at what was done to him, but also guilty that he was relieved that by some standard it was not the worse fate a slave could have had. But then how dearly he hates that guilt, that forced gratitude he is told to feel. He has a whole bundle of issues about his past, and I liked how it balanced all that emotional turmoil and made it work together to make a complex, but very relatable character.
As I stated up top of this review, I was already a hug fan of this story when I got my hands on this audio book. But there was just something about this audio version that really turned it up a notch.
Most of that rest in the hands of the narrator, Greg Patmore. Man, what a voice. Not only is it incredibly easy to listen to, but just the way he used it to bring out the very best in these characters. When Martin spoke, I could easily see and feel his stiff baring and rigid control. With Theo there was a bit more slipperiness to it, something a bit smooth, like this was a man who knew how to bend around rules to get what he wanted. It never went too overboard, though, and there was always something inherently likable about him.
The way I instantly felt these characters when they spoke, the ease at which I got caught up in the story, are why I loved this audio book so much. It took something that I already felt was good and set out to enhance it in any way possible. A lot of the time having someone else come in and try to replace the character voices in your head, can be a bit jarring. Yet when I was listening to this, all I could think was this was how they supposed to sound. Theo ended sounding a lot different than what I originally had in my own head, but in the best of ways. Narrators who can capture characters that well are worth their weight in coffee.
To wrap this up I just wanna say how deeply I enjoyed this story, both in and out of audio. And I was thrilled to find out that this is one of those stories that it is as enjoyable, if not more so, on the second read. Because finding all the subtle hints that you might have missed on the first read through is great. I think when I read this book I ended up giving it five stars, which is a bit disappointing because I that means I can’t bump up the rating to reflect how I feel for the audio. So I’m going to call this 5+ stars and a thoroughly stupendous audio version of an already great story.