Robert Ashton is in for the surprise of a lifetime. His mother, a bit of a rebel, raised him away from the rest of the family, and it’s not until he’s contacted by his lawyer about an inheritance that he learns who he truly is: the new Earl of Hantford. His legacy includes ownership of the historic Ashton Park Estate—which needs repairs Robert cannot afford. He’ll simply do what the nobility has done for centuries when in need of money. He’ll marry it.
Tech wizard Daniel Fabian is wealthy and successful. In fact, he has almost everything—except a title to make him worthy in the eyes of the old-money snobs he went to prep school with. His high school reunion is looming, and he’s determined to attend it as a member of the aristocracy.
That’s where Robert comes in.
Daniel has the money, Robert has the name, and both of them know they can help each other out. But their marriage of convenience has the potential to become a real love match—unless a threat to Daniel’s business ruins everything.
I’d had this book on my TBR list but hadn’t gotten to it by the time the audiobook came out, so I was psyched to listen to it, as I usually read a book before I listen and I consider it a treat to listen to a book for my first exposure to a story.
In general I’m a fan of Andrew Grey and I find his books to be a reliable source of low angst, feel-good romance that you can trust for a solidly enjoyable experience. Some of his stories really touch me and some are just pleasant, but rarely am I disappointed.
I was disappointed with this.
Part of the reason why – I think – is because the narrator choice was just wrong. I’m actually a fan of Robert Nieman and I find his narrations to be enjoyable most of the time. But he has a specific style and tenor to his voice that really didn’t match up with this story and his lack of appropriate accents was glaring.
I don’t know how much “artistic license” an author has when choosing a narrator, but I do think someone else would have been a better choice. Nieman used a vague British accent inconsistently for the British characters and gave no Texan accent to Daniel despite the fact that his accent is referenced in the story. He also gave no New York accent to anyone though the story is set in the city for some of the time.
I could have looked that over except that Nieman also has a style that is more rambling and chaotic with speed changes and pauses that aren’t always what I’d predict and that can really work in some cases (ie Amy Lane’s Clear Water) but didn’t work here. He also mispronounced a few words and that always bugs me.
Nieman is easy enough to listen to and the sound quality was fine but I don’t think he added to the story.
Now, about the story. I love the premise and I thought Grey did a fair job of making me “believe” these two guys could form a partnership in this day and age based on the idea that they each offered something the other needed. However, Daniel’s “need” was weak at best and didn’t seem to fit given that he was already leery of “gold-diggers” before he and Robert met. I wanted him to spend more time explaining why Robert’s version of gold-digging was okay before he accepted the proposal.
Beyond a very superficial amount of concern regarding distance and the particulars of the partnership there is almost no tension in this story. As a result there is very little chemistry or drive for the relationship on an emotional level either. When our MCs get their HEA it didn’t feel “hard won” or even that difficult and I wasn’t that invested in the outcome.
I stuck with the story easily enough and wasn’t ever tempted to stop, but it wasn’t something I’d recommend to a friend either.
All in all it was like bland tea and dry toast – it filled some empty spaces but that’s about it.
Copy Generously Provided for Honest Review