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Audiobook ARC Review: Once Upon a Duke by Erica Ridley

Once Upon a Duke (12 Dukes of Christmas, #1)

Audiobook Publishing Date: November 16, 2021

Synopsis:

Due to the terms of an estranged relative’s will, the Duke of Silkridge must revisit the cold, unforgiving mountains where he lost everything he once loved. As soon as he rights his family legacy, he’ll return to London where he belongs. He definitely won’t rekindle the forbidden spark crackling between him and the irresistible spitfire he’d left behind…

Noelle Pratchett is immune to charming rakehells like the arrogant duke. He stole her heart, stole her first kiss, and then stole away one night never to return. Now he’s back—and so are all the old feelings. Noelle knows he won’t stay. But how can she maintain her icy shields when every heated glance melts her to her core?

My Review:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I’ve read (and loved) several of the newer books in the 12 Dukes of Christmas series recently, so I jumped at the chance to review an audio version of the first, which I hadn’t yet read. As might be expected, I found it slightly lacking compared to later installments, but it was still very enjoyable.

The town of Cressmouth / Christmas is charming and the inhabitants varied and interesting. I find that one of Erica Ridley’s greatest strengths is creating well-rounded and interesting characters, whether they be the stars of the show or just bit players. With that said, Benjamin and Noelle were a bit less fleshed out than some of her more recent heroes and heroines, and that limited my enjoyment of the story somewhat as I was not able to be as invested in them or their love story.

The plot was good if a bit repetitive, and Benjamin’s reasons for being unable to love Noelle (or anyone) were a bit thin and he held onto them a bit too long. There were some really lovely moments however – like when Benjamin was caring for Tiny Tim – that redeemed him for me and made him more interesting.

The audiobook narration was good. The narrator wasn’t my favorite, and I wasn’t sure about her voice at first, but as the story progressed she grew on me. She did a good job with the different character voices and with portraying their emotions. Once I got used to her, it was a very enjoyable listening experience.

*Thanks to NetGalley and Orange Sky Audio for providing an audio arc for review.

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