I am the happy owner of the complete series, purchased in a set at Amazon, however, today I’d liked to review the audiobook, The Rogue, book 1 of The Rogues of Ravensmuir.
Title: The Rogue, book 1, the Rogues of Ravensmuir Series (1 of 3)
Author: Claire Delacroix
Narrated by: Ashley Klanac
Genre: Historical Medieval Romance
Story Setting: 1371, Christmas Eve and following days
Production version published: August 19, 2014
Originally published: 2002
I was entirely enraptured with Claire Delacroix’s spellbinding gothic medieval romance between Merlyn and Ysabella. Ashley Klanac’s voice with its fiery portrayal of Ysabella sharpened the enjoyment of an already remarkable sensual story, taking me beyond myself and thrusting me into the castle of Ravensmuir with its secrets and dark, damp passages hidden within its walls and floor.
This is one of those stories which I shall happily read or listen to again. The descriptive detailed scenes, the conspiracy within, and eloquently phrased dialogue with wonderful dialect and thought put me in awe of the author and this production. She has entranced me.
Ashley Klanac’s flexibility in the numerous voices needed in dialog held me rapt in the telling. Merlyn’s voice simply oozed with sensual desire. I was never confused who was speaking for the personality of the character flowed through the voice timbre and dialect.
The story itself was an interesting one. Ysabella had come upon hard times, in fact, the five years previous and been years of extreme poverty, but by her own choice. Once she had learned who her new husband was–not but a scoundrel and liar– she left him and the splendor she had married into, returning to Kinfarlie and to her mother and sister.
Her mother had been different from the rest of the folk living in Kinfairlie. She was well-spoken and had always insisted her daughters speak correctly. Many people had thought Ysabella’s mother a witch. She had lost her mother from illness. She would not lose others she loved. She would continue working making ale that only eked out a bare existence, but enough to at least feed them.
After these five long years, her husband, Merlyn comes to the village seeking Ysabella’s aid. Not her forgiveness. The narrator shows with her pithy dialog the hatred she had of Merlyn at the same time how her body responded to his very voice. Ysabella’s remarks were extremely sarcastic while Merlyn tries to defuse her wrath. He wanted her to return to the castle and bring her siblings. Could she be so cruel as to deny additional food and clothes to them? And yet she did. The following day, she gets word she is a widow. Merlyn has been killed. Additional, he has left his castle to her. She readily takes what providence has offered. She moves to the castle.
So many secrets had lain between Merlyn and Ysabella. Within the story telling, we learn of these secrets and the lies and half-lies untold which slowly become known.
This story was fast-paced, with inner layers of intrigue and mystery which keeps the reader from knowing the villain and when all appear to be telling the truth, are they yet telling lies? This was a read/audiobook that I’m glad I could listen to and delightedly recommend it. It had the happily-ever-after ending with justice, so satisfying to my revengeful soul! I’m eager to see what book 2 of the series holds, titled The Scoundrel.
Excerpt from Deborah Cooke interviewing her narrator (for complete interview http://deborahcooke.com/2014/09/04/interview-with-ashley-klanac/ :
Deborah: By the time I finished reviewing the final audio files, I was dreaming of Ysabella, speaking to me in your voice! Did you become immersed in the project as you’re working on it?
Ashley: That’s such a cool question. I really did. I had a very similar experience while working on it. My inner monologue was in Ysabella’s dialect for weeks (which I loved). I was in constant evaluation of my dialect work even outside the studio because I felt the more secondhand it was for me, the more authentic it would be in the recording. She’s also such a fiercely dynamic woman and her personal experience is so potent and exciting, how could I not take her with me on occasion? I remember feeling like it was the last day of school when I completed the audio.
Jen (Romancing the Book—full interview through using Deborah’s link http://deborahcooke.com/category/promoting/guest-blogging/):
Jen: You write fantasy romance as Deborah Cooke and medievals as Claire Delacroix. How do you switch between the two genres? And why?
Claire: I like to write in a lot of different sub genres. I think that switching between them keeps my ideas fresher – when I return to 14th century Scotland after some time in the here and now with my dragon shifters, for example, I notice different details about Kinfairlie and the family, and see different threads to explore. So, the variety works for me. In terms of publishing, there are two different schools of thought about marketing works in different sub genres by the same author. One plan is to market everything under the same author name, but distinguish the subgenre with the cover art and design. The other – which used to be the more prevalent thinking – is that each subgenre of an author’s work should be distinguished not only by the cover art and design but by the author name (the brand). My having multiple author brands is a bit of a legacy from that kind of thinking. I have been trying to make stronger links between them, by amalgamating everything into a single website. I also eliminated one of my author brands (Claire Cross) when I republished the eight books originally published under that author brand: the time travel romances became Claire Delacroix books, and the contemporary romances became Deborah Cooke books.
About the Author (in her own words): I write books about relationships and the power of love. Most of these are romances, but some are mainstream or fantasy with romantic elements. I’ve been writing all of my life, but have been published since 1993. I’ve worked with many traditional publishing houses (Harlequin, Dell, Warner Books, Berkley, New American Library and TOR) but am currently indie-publishing my books. This is a wonderful adventure and I’m really enjoying it. I have more control over the way my books go out into the world, and also over the kinds of stories I tell.
I believe in mentoring, and was honoured to be chosen as the writer-in-residence at the Toronto Public Library in 2009, which was the first time they hosted a residency focused on the romance genre. Since then, two of the authors whose work I read have been published, which is wonderful. I also was chosen as the RWA PRO Mentor of the Year in 2012, which still thrills me. Beyond that, I live in Canada with my family and knit way too much.
About the Narrator, Ashley Klanac:
I was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. I come from an awesome, loving, ambitious family who is so incredibly supportive. I’ve been an extreme extrovert since the day I was born, goofy personality and sense of humor—I devoured episodes of Saturday Night Live, stand up comedy, show tunes, and cartoons as a child. They were always applauding and encouraging me to do more. I would hold pretend interviews on a tape recorder with various celebrities of the 90’s and random voices I would create in which I, of course, voiced all roles. I played piano as a kid but quit at 13 to play all the sports and extracurriculars that were available to me. I didn’t really fully get into performing until high school. I was into choir and things like that but it wasn’t until my sophomore year, I auditioned for Once Upon a Mattress and was cast as the Queen. I quit the softball team have had an insatiable need for performing ever since.
I studied Acting in the School of Drama at The University of Oklahoma. I had a fabulous experience there where I had the opportunity of playing some amazing female powerhouses, a few with dialects. It was there that I really feel like I dove into the nuts and bolts of voice work. My Voice and Diction professor, Rena Cook, really gave me the platform I’d always wanted to really, “geek out” over the academic side of voice work, onstage and in a recording studio.