Sunday, July 23, 2023

What Remains of Heaven (audio--spoilerish)

 What Remains of Heaven
(2009) by C. S. Harris (Candice Proctor); narrated by Davinia Porter

All spoilers are regarding the long story arc of Sebastian (Lord Devlin) St. Cyr and do not give away vital clues about the mystery itself. Those who want to read the series in order may want to wait to read the review that follows. For a full review of the plot, please see my previous review (title link above).

This is another of my audio rereading adventures. I recently read the latest of the Devlin novels (after waiting in a long hold line at the library). I enjoy this historical mystery series so much that it made me want to go back (not quite to the beginning because I really don't have a lot of patience with his early relationship with Kat Boleyn) to the roots of his relationship with Hero Jarvis. Hero is, in my opinion, a much better match than Kat would ever have been. I had already listened to the first of these (Where Serpents Sleep) to fulfill a prompt from a reading challenge) and I now plan to listen to the rest of the series while I wait for the next installment (due out next year)--just to refresh my memory of certain points in Devlin's life.

In this installment, Hero is forced to admit that there have been repercussions from her brief encounter with Devlin during what they thought might be their last moments on earth before succumbing to a watery grave. She has begun to make arrangements for her child. But when the sympathetic bishop orchestrating the adoption is killed, she's left uncertain of her decision and how to carry it forward if she decides to do so. She's also trying very hard to keep the knowledge from Devlin. He has already told her that if there are any repercussions that he is prepared to do the honorable thing and marry her--but marriage is the last thing she wants. 

She had made up her mind to be an "old maid." Her wealth and her position as her father's daughter would give her a freedom that so many women in the early 1800s would not have access to. And although she comes to realize that she really doesn't want to give up the child she also realizes that even her position as Jarvis's daughter wouldn't protect her from the scandal of openly bearing and keeping a child out of wedlock. By the last chapters, she's come up with a plan to travel abroad (which she's always wanted to do anyway), have the child, and then when enough time has passed, return to England with the "orphan" she's adopted. However, her mother's delicate mental and emotional health puts paid to that idea...and she realizes that her options are running out. Devlin has also discovered that she is, indeed, carrying his child and is intent on convincing her to allow him to do the right thing. She may have to let him...

Davinia Porter is a terrific narrator. I'm saddened to hear that she has retired from narrating and there is a new narrator for the two most recent Devlin audio books. I hope the new narrator does justice to the characters, but it will be difficult adjusting to new tones. Davinia manages a wide range of accents, social status, and vocal timbre with ease. Her male voices are as on point as any female could hope to manage and I've gotten quite comfortable with her rendition of Devlin. His voice will be the bar by which the new narrator will be judged. ★★★★

First line: His breath coming in undignified gasps, the Reverend Malcolm Earnshaw abandoned the village high street and struck out through the lanky grass of the churchyard.

Last lines: He expected her to make one of her usual provocative remarks on the inequities of modern English marriage laws. Instead, she gave a strange, soft laugh and said, "Perhaps I shall."


Deaths = 4 (one hit on head; two stabbed; one burned in fire)

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