Monday, March 27, 2017

Audio Review ~ Highland Spy ~ Madeline Martin #AudioChallenge

Highland Spy (The Mercenary Maidens, #1)Highland Spy by Madeline Martin
Narrated byDave Gillies
Release Date: January 10, 2017
Genre: Adult, Historical Romance
Source: I received a complimentary copy from Tantor Media
Rating: 4 Bookworms
Challenges: Audio Challenge, #2017NewRelease, #ShelfLove

Ariana Fitzroy has lost her family and her fortune. The fight for survival leads her to the shadowed card games of court, where she discovers she has quite a talent for slipping cards into her favor. While the winnings are enough to sustain her at present, they will not last forever...Connor Grant, trainer of the fallen women from the English court and personal assassin to the king, is just as broken as the women he trains. After losing his own land and all his people in a brutal attack from a trusted friend, he has no choice but to rebuild any way he sees possible-even if it means going against everything he's ever believed in. After catching Ariana cheating at cards, Connor has a new trainee to instruct at one of the king's many confiscated castles. In the dilapidated ruins, he discovers Ariana is more than she appears and falls in love with her incredible tenacity and dedication-a love that is challenged by Connor's chance at reclaiming the inheritance he once last and has sought so desperately to regain.

Highland Spy was a thrilling listen! It's set against the backdrop of King James' reign and his attempts to keep the Scots under his rule. He's using Scots as spies to keep tabs on the powerful, even creating a spy/assassin ring of women!

Connor Grant is the ring leader of this group and takes great pains in choosing the women he takes under his wing. He trains them well but keeps their souls clean by never pushing them too far. He's close to his girls, caring and loyal. But he's kept his distance for obvious reasons. Until Ariana.

Ariana Fitzroy, a young woman from a once noble family, has resorted to being a card cheat in order to pay her few remaining staff. One night, she's caught and has to choose between going to work for Connor or being turned over to the authorities. The choice is simple.

Watching as these two fall for one another was at times gut-wrenching and at others heartwarming. Connor, having lost his clan and lands (his father was laird) on top of the sins he's committed for the crown, feels he has nothing to offer Ariana. Ariana, having lost her family before she could ever know any sort of love, simply wants her feelings for Connor reciprocated. These two had an uphill battle, not only in their profession, but also in an attempt to be together.

The politics and court intrigue added this whole other layer to the story that only amplified my enjoyment. Really, it was more central to the story than the romance! *gasp* King James was a crafty bugger and when the reveals came about I felt for Connor to have had his loyalty repaid - even bought - in such a way. The secondary characters - particularly the other maidens - were fairly well fleshed out. They're all unique and have their own stories - stories I'm eager to learn.

Dave Gillies' narration was well-done. He's Scottish, so of course his accents were impeccable. He also did a fine job of not only conveying proper emotions but also in keeping the pacing smooth. His cadence took a bit of getting used to but his delivery held my interest.

This was my first read from Martin and my first listen with Gillies. I intend to continue this series, especially if Gillies narrates, as well as look for more from Gillies.

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