AUDIO REVIEW: Song for Sophia by Moriah Densley, narrated by Heather Wilds

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To win a man’s heart, a woman must have the mind of a diplomat, a general, and Cleopatra, all in one.

Desperation has led Anne-Sophia Duncombe to a life of exile. Still, she is always just one mistake away from capture and a marriage she would rather die than endure. As a last resort to remain hidden from her former life, Sophia attempts a radical scheme; a life of humility and disguise.

Rumor has it Wilhelm Montegue, the Earl of Devon, is insane. A tormented war hero haunted by scandal, he is only tolerated because of his brilliant mind and swarthy good looks. His unmentionable “condition” which keeps him confined to his country home is also the source of his talent for composing music.

When a new housemaid is hired at Rougemont, Lord Devon is perplexed to find himself fascinated by her. He knows the exquisite beauty is keeping secrets but her siren’s voice draws him ever closer, and he can’t resist the intoxicating scent of danger surrounding her

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Publisher and Release Date: Tantor Audio, April 2014

RHR Classifications:
Time and Setting: 1860s England
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 1.5
Reviewer Rating: 4 stars

Review by Maria Almaguer

Song for Sophia is a dark and absorbing tale of redemption, honor, and true love between a damaged former soldier and an heiress on the run.

Wilhelm Montegue, the Earl of Devon, is a chivalrous and charming young man but rumors swirl around about his madness – which is actually, savant syndrome – and his sexuality, which is why he has retreated to his country estate, Rougemont. When he comes upon the beautiful Rosalee Cooper (not her real name) in the woods of his property, he is captivated by her beauty and her air of mystery, and quickly wants to learn everything about her.

Rosalee is actually Sophia Duncombe, a lady fleeing her abusive and maniacal father, Lord Chauncey, who is determined she wed the man of his choice and isn’t above threatening rape and abuse in order to force her to his will. She disguises herself as a maid, but Wilhelm and his sharp-tongued Aunt Louisa thinks she is much too pretty to be one. She’s also obviously as educated as she is knowledgeable in the finer things: languages for one, music another. I really like that Densley translates all the sexy foreign words that are shared between Wilhelm and Sophia as well as the commands they issue to Wilhelm’s dogs, who become her faithful protectors. All too often, authors omit this and I sometimes feel lost.

Wilhelm respects Sophia’s wish to remain hidden and to not speak of her past, but he does wish to protect her at all costs. So he asks her to become governess to his visiting cousins, some of whom are preparing for their upcoming debuts. He also requests she pose as his mistress as necessary in company, in order to dispel unfounded rumors of his homosexuality.

But as she gets to know him, Sophia falls in love with him: his protectiveness, honor, and his kind heart. And while he protects her, Wilhelm investigates who she is and why she’s in hiding.

Heather Wilds is a narrator I have not heard before. She reads with a warm and smooth style and in a variety of tones and accents that make the many different voices of the characters easily distinguishable. And it’s a quite a large cast, from Wilhelm’s extended family of cousins to his old soldier comrades in arms. I really love how she makes Wilhelm sound both young and inexperienced socially and commanding in his military training; he’s a tough and determined man but he’s also sweet and tender. Sophia is read as intelligent and strong, with a mixed and unusual accent, but you can hear the affecting anguish in her voice when she fears for Wilhelm’s wellbeing.

The love scenes are more implied than graphic here, but they are very sensual. And I love that Wilhelm is also a virgin, as inexperienced in the ways of seduction as Sophia. Their love is heartwarming; each cares so much for the other they would do anything to save each other. Their conversations are flirty and playful and, when listened to read aloud, very sexually charged.

An atmosphere of danger throughout the novel is palpable and vividly portrayed in the isolation of the Rougemont estate and its ever present element of danger amid people living their daily lives. All the while Sophia educates his cousins and gets to know Wilhelm, she is being hunted.

Some of the scenes are quite shocking in their violence and at times, difficult to listen to. At one point, I was stunned at the events but I also admired Wilhelm’s courage and determination. Despite these complex situations and consequences, he is very likeable, attractive, and in love with Sophia.

An exciting, fast paced, and sweepingly romantic love story, this is the first in Moriah Densley’s Rougemont series as well as her début.

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