Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Overseas by Beatriz Williams — Audiobook Review

Recorded by Penguin Audio
Narrated by January LaVoy
Length: 15 Hours 49 minutes

Kate Wilson is a small time player in the financial industry. Often overlooked and overworked, Kate has found some stability in her life, until the day that Wall Street tycoon Julian Lawrence sees her and begins to woo her in a most strange manner. At first Kate is flattered by the attention. Julian, a handsome Englishman, has sharp instincts, a winning and affable manner, and enough charm to melt any woman’s heart—but not Kate’s. When Julian steps in one night to rescue Kate from a dangerous situation, Kate’s walls begin to come down with creaking slowness. It seems like this was a match made in the stars to Julian, who hides a secret so deep that he may never be able to share it with Kate. With danger around every corner, Julian and Kate become the most dashing couple to have ever made it into the high society rag mags. But what Julian is not telling Kate may threaten not only what they are building, but their lives and honor as well.

Meanwhile, threaded into this tale is a dual narrative that begins on a rainy day in France during the first World War, when a woman literally falls into the arms of a celebrated poet and infantry captain, spinning a tale for him that is almost impossible to be believed. But when the lives of the future depend on a betrayal from the past, things begin to look bleak for the lovers in both narratives. If Julian dares to reveal his secret to Kate, he might lose her forever, but if the woman from the past cannot make her message mean something, all may be lost before it ever begins. In this tale of supernatural and spellbinding romance, a great and terrible responsibility rests on the fates of two lovers who are bound in more ways than one can ever dream.

I’m not normally a reader of romance, and going into this book, I hadn’t expected to find so much romantic tension in the story line. I went in expecting to find secrets and hidden agendas, fated meetings and magic. I got all that, and I even enjoyed it, but the romantic angles of this story just weren’t my cup of tea. I believe that one should at least try all genres before dismissing them, and I haven’t exactly dismissed romance on the whole, but for me this story struck me as more bland due to the heavy romantic elements. I am at odds with it. On the one hand, I can see romance lovers eating this book up, but for those out there who don’t consider themselves ripe for a novel that hinges on love might feel a bit cheated.

I also didn’t think the choice of narrator was right. At times, listening to January LaVoy reading this book became overwhelmingly saccharine. Hearing her vocalizing some of the passionate moments of the book made me feel a little dirty, because folks, she sure puts on a show. I did like the vocalization style that she used for Julian and some of his mates, but for me, the performance from the point of view of Kate turned me off. It was distracting, and I think that an older and more subdued female narrator would have been a better choice. Perhaps it was the material, but her groans of ecstasy made me cringe a little bit.

While I enjoyed the dual narratives, like many of the books that I read that feature them, I preferred the historical sections to the modern sections and was a little annoyed to find that this plotline seemed to always come second, as though it was an afterthought. I wanted more depth to the historical side and it just wasn’t there. Maybe that was the reason I couldn’t buy into the sections that were happening in the present. I’ve read some greatly constructed romantic leads, but usually the ones I prefer take a bit of a backseat to the plot. In this case, they were on full display and very passionate. To me, it just felt a bit amatuer. I like romance in the correct proportions, but when the whole book is chock-full of barely restrained libidos, things don’t quite work for me.

If you walk into this book knowing very certainly that you are reading what is a straight romance, I would have to admit that you would be fully satisfied. But, if like me, you need more meat in your stories and more structure to your tales, this book might be a bitter pill to swallow. In the end, I accepted it for what it was and was okay with it, however, the narration didn’t suit me.


rhapsodyinbooks said...

That's too bad about the narrator. A bad one can really ruin a book!

Beth F said...

Ahhhh. Thanks for this. I've been wanting to read this because I like time travel, but I'm not big on the romance genre. I loved January on the audio of THE DEVINERS, but that book was perfect for a dramatic reading. Not so sure about this one. Now I'm back on the fence for OVERSEAS.

Nicole (Linus's Blanket) said...

Yeah, the right narrator is so important. I read this one and it had elements that I enjoyed, but some of it just didn't make all that much sense. I think it would have been worthwhile to go back and fill in some of the inconsistencies.

Ti said...

There is nothing worse than an overly-sweet romance read by an over-the-top narrator. Ugh.

From the title I don't get romance. I'd probably pick it up based on the cover alone but it's too bad the romantic elements took over.

Sandy Nawrot said...

I think I'll pass on this one! Because the only way I am reading anything these days is on audio, and I can't handle all the romance AND and over-the-top narrator.

Harvee said...

A lot of books are written this way recently, dual narratives, even triple narratives. Not sure I like that in all cases. Romance can be boring if not fraught with intrigue and danger and mystery, I agree. Nice review.

Suko said...

Thanks for sharing your honest thoughts and feelings about this one. I am not much of a romance reader, although I have read many Nicholas Sparks books. Very well-written review, as usual!

Jenny said...

Well, the audio certainly is not for me, LOL. But I'm really not into romance either. I'm very particular about books that could be billed about romance so I'm thinking I wouldn't care for this one.

Vasilly said...

I don't think this one is for me. Thanks for the honest review.

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

Thanks for your honesty about the narration. Funny thing is, I've never heard of this one.

Hope your holidays are happy Heather.

Jenners said...

The wrong narrator can really make an audio (and therefore a book) not work. Too bad.

Athira said...

This doesn't sound like my cup of tea either, primarily because too much romance makes me cringe. Despite it not being what you look for, I laud that you attempted it. Sorry that it didn't exactly work out.

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