Title: The Innocent Auction
Author: Victoria Sue
Narrator: Joel Leslie
Run Time: 6 hours and 44 minutes
Category: Historical Romance
At a Glance: I must admit this type of story, a historical romance set in Victorian England, is a perfect fit for this voice artist. His pacing, variation in tone and accents truly added to the novel, overall. This was a solid performance that fit the story very well.
Reviewed By: Sammy
Blurb: Their love was a death sentence.
Deacon, Viscount Carlisle, was aware of the slums and gin-lanes of London. Just as he was aware of the underground traffic that furnished the brothels and bath houses with human innocents. He was also aware that the so-called justice system would hang the accused without much of an attempt at a defense, unless the unfortunate had deep pockets to pay for it.
He just hadn’t expected to be directly involved in any of it.
It started with a plea for help and ended with forbidden love, the love between a Viscount and a stable-boy. An impossible love and a guarantee of the hangman’s noose.
Will Deacon fight for Tom? Will he risk the death sentence and take that fight from the stately halls of his English mansion to the horrors of Newgate Prison and the slums of London?
Or will he realize that if he doesn’t, death will be a welcome end to the loneliness of the sentence he is already living?
Review: The Story: Tom has never known an easy life, and when his mother abandons him in his early teens, it’s no surprise that a less than scrupulous man bent on making him a rent boy eventually abducts him. So, he finds himself drugged and bound for auction to the highest bidder, and that is where Deacon finds him. Deacon has gone to warn his best friend, Beau, that the police are on their way to raid the auction, but before they can make their escape, Deacon catches sight of poor Tom, and rashly offers a great sum, buying him and taking him to his father’s estate to apprentice under his loyal stablemaster.
Years pass and Deacon’s estranged father dies, leaving him a crumbling family estate he can’t sell and debt he can’t afford to pay. Marriage to a wealthy woman is now his reality, despite his having no interest in the opposite sex. Still, an heir must be procured and money must be found to rebuild the estate, so marry he must. But, what Deacon did not reckon on was a deep and instant attraction to the now very much grown up Tom. They are drawn to each other, immediately, but both know that their affections could mean a death sentence if ever discovered.
Author Victoria Sue gives us a pretty historical romance in this latest audio offering, The Innocent Auction. I normally avoid historicals, primarily because I find them to be fairly cookie-cutter in their approach, but this one, while not necessarily breaking any genre molds, is really a lovely listen. Tom and Deacon share a deep, abiding affection for each other that sparks immediately into a physical desire that burns up the pages. But, for all his gratitude toward Deacon, Tom isn’t some femme fatale in male clothing. He is strong and clever and has made a life for himself through hard work and his own intelligence. You never worry that Tom will leave Deacon’s household and lose his livelihood and, with it, his independence. No, if he goes—when he goes—it will be Tom’s decision, for both men know theirs is a doomed love, one that will never work if Deacon is to secure an heir and rebuild his family’s wealth.
I really enjoyed this story, primarily because while many things did work out for the good, there was still the threat of the hangman’s noose and utter disgrace hanging over Deacon at every turn, and that lent an air of urgency to the story which otherwise could have fallen into a formulaic novel that had very little new to offer to this genre. Tom and Deacon’s attraction, while fairly instant, was believable and rich; there was more on offer than just sex between them, which made their intense relationship more palatable in terms of believing it despite the speed with which it happened. These were men who enjoyed each other’s company, and Tom was equally matched to Deacon in smarts and worldly outlook despite his poverty. Deacon’s friend Beau just made my heart weep—and the things that eventually befell him were truly horrific and yet in keeping with that time. All in all, The Innocent Auction was a lovely historical romance that fans of the genre will truly enjoy,
The Audio: Having heard this voice artist before, I was concerned that he might offer up more of the same halting style I had heard in a former novel he had narrated. However, I was so pleased to not only hear his voicing take on the haughty air needed for this particular story, but also employ a British accent which was pleasant and never faltered or dropped during the entire narration. His style fit this story so well—his pausing and stylized way of speaking gave that air of aristocracy to his voicing, and the broader more cockney accent for some of the servants was spot on.
I particularly enjoyed the way in which Tom retained some of his “street” sound, but was also able to put on a more polished air to his speech, just as was indicated in the story itself. Mr. Leslie kept his voices distinct from the narration, and that allowed for the listener to easily identify who was speaking and keep track of the many and varied characters in the novel. I must admit this type of story, a historical romance set in Victorian England, is a perfect fit for this voice artist. His pacing, variation in tone and accents truly added to the novel, overall. This was a solid performance that fit the story very well.
You can buy The Innocent Auction here: