The Lion's Lady
Narrated by Susan Duerden
I’ve read/listened to very little Garwood. That confession might get me kicked out of Romancelandia, I suppose, but there it is. Many of my online friends rate this book as one of their all time favorites, so when I had the opportunity to review it, I decided to take the plunge, partly just out of curiosity.
Brief plot summary: Christina is an heiress whose mother ran away from her evil husband to the American colonies in 1795 or thereabouts. After her mother died (killed by a bear. Really), Christina was raised by the Dakota tribe (who call her their “Lioness”). She returns to London to keep a promise to her mother and there, she meets the Marquis of Lyonwood. Christina’s plan is to avenge her mother and then return to the Dakota. Lyon has other ideas.
Actually, looking back, The Lion’s Lady was fun. The plot is a little over the top and I’m fairly sure it’s not terribly historically accurate (were there white men in the Black Hills of Dakota in the late 1790s? I think not) and there was a lot of Lyon “roaring.” His default was to yell at Christina – at least she yelled right back (I think they are destined for a volatile and passionate HEA).
I think perhaps the narration detracted a little from the story for me. It’s hard to know of course, but I believe I’d have liked it better in print. I don’t remember listening to a Susan Duerden narrated book before and my fellow reviewers here speak highly of her. I certainly thought she did a good job of Lyon’s characterization, but I had some reservations about the way Christina was depicted. On the one hand, Christina was deceptively petite – just about everyone thought she was helpless and incapable. On the other, Christina was handy with a knife, rode horses bareback with superior skill and could probably survive alone in the wilderness longer than Bear Grylls. The voice she was given fit more with the former than the latter. Perhaps that was deliberate. And it may work well for others. But for me, I had trouble reconciling the voice with her character.
I liked this one a lot better than my previous Garwood historical listen, The Bride – I preferred this narration. I’m not sure if it was purposeful and it didn’t always fit, but Ms. Duerden seemed almost to have a burble of laughter threading through her voice for most of the book. It gave me the impression (perhaps wrongly?) that the story wasn’t too serious.
Generally I’m not a fan of stories with people at cross-purposes (it tends to frustrate me) or for characters to feel the need to keep secrets from one another. That might explain why the second half of the story worked better for me – as Lyon came to accept Christina’s secrecy and lies, so did I. There are some very funny parts to the audio and I really enjoyed the fact that Christina and Lyon fell in love early and were exchanging words of lovemuch earlier than the last few chapters of the book.
Breakdown of Grade – Narration: B- and Book Content: C+