Tag Archives: Tyndale

Audiobook Review: Price of Privilege by Jessica Dotta

Title: Price of Privilege
Author: Jessica Dotta
Narrator: Amanda McKnight
Audio Publisher: Oasis Audio
Audio Length: 13 hours, 7 minutes
Print Publisher: Tyndale House
Published: January 2015
Genre: Christian Fiction, Historical Fiction
Series: Price of Privilege, Book 3

My Thoughts on the Story:

Jessica Dotta’s first two novels set the bar high for this series, with mysterious characters, vivid settings, and plots full of unexpected twists and turns. This final installment wraps up the series in a breathtaking and unexpected conclusion worthy of its predecessors. Taken together, Born of Persuasion, Mark of Distinction, and Price of Privilege tell a fascinating and intricately woven literary tale.

Having lived in Julia’s head for three books now, I feel like I’ve come to know her well – the good, the bad, and the ugly. I may not agree with many of her actions or even the rationale for her decisions, but both she and her mistakes felt real to me. I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with her and watching her character develop from a passive teenage girl being manipulated into making poor choices, to a more mature woman ready to face the consequences of her actions, embrace God’s grace, and pick up the pieces of her life.

And the supporting cast? So good! Hats off to Edward, Mr. Macy, Jameson, Nancy, Forrester, Lord Pierson, and more, each of whom was drawn in unique and vivid detail. But especially to Lord Isaac Dalry, who was particularly amazing in this book. You must read it to see why. But first read books 1 and 2 if you haven’t read them yet, because this series must be read in order.

Without talking specifics, let me just say that the conclusion packs some real emotional punch. And yes, I cried. But it’s worth the tears for the beautiful, complex story of unmerited love, devotion, and grace. I didn’t see the ending coming, but, looking back on the series as a whole, I can see how the groundwork was laid in bits and pieces from the very beginning. And the artistry of it amazes me.

Specific to the Audiobook:

If you’ve read my earlier reviews from this series, then you already know how much I’ve enjoyed the audio narrations by Amanda McKnight. The character voices, emotional resonance, and subtle details of her performances have been spot on, and this title is no exception. If you enjoy audiobooks or want to give them a try, then the audio editions from this series are not to be missed.

Thank you to Oasis Audio for providing an electronic copy of this audiobook for review purposes.

Quick links: About the Book (from Oasis Audio) | Author’s Web Site | Audio Sample

Find this title on: Goodreads | Audible | ChristianBook.com | christianaudio

Audiobook Review: Born of Persuasion by Jessica Dotta

Title: Born of Persuasion
Author: Jessica Dotta
Narrator: Amanda McKnight
Series: Price of Privilege Trilogy, #1
Print Publisher: Tyndale House
Audio Publisher: Oasis Audio
Genre: Gothic Romance, Inspirational
Published: September 2013

About the Book (from the Tyndale House Publishers web site):

The year is 1838, and seventeen-year-old Julia Elliston’s position has never been more fragile. Orphaned and unmarried in a time when women are legal property of their fathers, husbands, and guardians, she finds herself at the mercy of an anonymous guardian who plans to establish her as a servant in far-off Scotland.

With two months to devise a better plan, Julia’s first choice to marry her childhood sweetheart is denied. But when a titled dowager offers to introduce Julia into society, a realm of possibilities opens. However, treachery and deception are as much a part of Victorian society as titles and decorum, and Julia quickly discovers her present is deeply entangled with her mother’s mysterious past. Before she knows what’s happening, Julia finds herself a pawn in a deadly game between two of the country’s most powerful men. With no laws to protect her, she must unravel the secrets on her own. But sometimes truth is elusive and knowledge is deadly.

My Thoughts on the Story:

Absolutely fascinating.  I’ll admit I hadn’t expected to encounter classic Gothic horror in an Inspirational title.  I think that’s part of this book’s charm.  Born of Persuasion is so different from much of what I’ve read in Christian fiction so far, it took me delightfully by surprise.  Mystery, romance, and an undercurrent of danger abound in this novel full of unexpected plot twists, Victorian sensibilities, and uncertain loyalties.

With her own past shrouded in mystery, and with the recent death of her mother under suspicious circumstances, our heroine and first person storyteller, Julia Elliston, begins her tale with a very incomplete picture of her own situation.  She quickly finds herself adrift among people with competing agendas, some wanting to help her, and others wanting to manipulate her for their own gain.  The challenge for her, and for the reader, is determining which is which.

Who can be trusted?  Edward, Julia’s longtime beau who she feels has betrayed her by becoming a vicar, despite knowing how, as an atheist, she feels she’s been mistreated by others in the name of religious fervor?  Her mysterious guardian who intends to send her off to Scotland to work as a Lady’s companion?  Mrs. Windham, the mother of a friend, who offers to provide Julia a small dowry and help her find a husband, albeit not a very prestigious or wealthy one, rather than be sent away?  Lady Foxmore whose lofty connections and questionable methods could procure her a socially desirable husband… for a hefty fee?  Or the wealthy and charming Mr. Macy who has an admittedly sketchy and mysterious past, but who promises Julia safety and security, not to mention social status, if she marries him?

Here’s a favorite quote from the book (Chapter 26, pages 170-1), a conversation about faith between Julia and Edward:

“How can you believe in a God who is so cruel?” I asked.

Edward’s countenance took on an aching look.  He did not have to ask what I meant.  Though the ground was cold and wet, he joined me.  And because he did not rush to answer, because he took the time to consider my viewpoint, I listened when he finally began to speak.

“Imagine the kindest, gentlest man you can.  A man who reaches out to the most wretched and works to restore the undeserving.  No injustice is tolerated, no snobbery, no bickering.”

I eyed Jacob Turner, predicting where Edward was going.

“Now, imagine him a general,” Edward continued, “and off to war.  During this time, all sorts of horrible rumors and distressing reports have reached his home country and his family’s ears.  And while these reports may be true, those who know and love him best can only tell others to keep faith.  There are explanations; surely there are a myriad of reasons that have not yet been revealed.”  He pointed at the cottager.  “Men like him are like that family.  He keeps faith that this isn’t the full story.”

I cocked an eyebrow at him.

“Wait for the ending,” Edward said.

Such a great analogy!  There aren’t very many passages like this, delving into theological issues, but the ones that are included in this book are brief, feel natural, and leave an impression.  Well done.

I loved how the author kept me guessing with complex characters and unexpected plot twists.  And I am intensely curious to learn how Julia’s character and beliefs might develop over the course of this series.  This book ends on a bit of a cliffhanger with plenty of questions remaining unanswered and secrets yet to be revealed.  Jessica Dotta has crafted a page-turner of a book that leaves me with the feeling I MUST KNOW what’s next.  And just to compound my already intense curiosity, there’s the fact that I know several bloggers who’ve read this series through and been incredibly vocal about how amazing it is.  So yes, I’ll be seeking out Books 2 (Mark of Distinction) and 3 (Price of Privilege) post-haste.

Fans of the works of Austen and the Bronte sisters will likely eat this story up.  As will many readers interested in trying something a little different from the usual Inspirational fiction fare.

Thoughts on the Audio Edition:

I absolutely adored listening to the narrator’s British accent.  Amanda McKnight’s gentle, melodious voice fits the voice I imagine for Julia Elliston, with her sweet and unassuming character, perfectly.  And since this novel is told in Julia’s first person point of view, as though she’s relating her own story, that fit between narrator and character is absolutely essential.  What a great pick to play the role, and what a lovely performance!  I’m a big fan of the poetic quality of Victorian style language, and this narrator’s reading highlights that quality in this text to beautiful effect.

Thank you to Oasis Audio for providing a complimentary electronic copy of this audiobook for review purposes.

Audiobook Review: Not in the Heart by Chris Fabry

Title: Not in the Heart
Author: Chris Fabry
Narrator: Chris Fabry
Genre: Contemporary Christian Fiction
Publishers: Tyndale (print and electronic), and  Oasis Audio (audio)

I was excited to read and review Not in the Heart, because it is the 2013 Christy Award Winner in the Contemporary Standalone Category and I’d heard a lot of good things about it. The copy I read was an audiobook version, checked out and downloaded from my local library, so I’ll be reviewing not only the text of the book itself but also the quality of the recording and its narration.


Not in the Heart tells the story of an out of work reporter who is estranged from his family, but is offered an opportunity to reconnect with them as well as earn some money toward paying off his mounting debts by writing the story of a death row inmate. That inmate, Terrell, is a convicted murderer who wants to donate his heart to Truman’s ailing son. But as Truman researches the story, he uncovers evidence that points to Terrell’s innocence. This raises a dilemma for Truman.  If Terrell is proven innocent, Truman’s son could die for lack of a heart transplant, but if Truman says nothing, an innocent man will be executed.

My reaction:

The complicated situations and difficult decisions explored in this book, make it a fascinating read as well as an excellent option for discussion by a book group.

The main character, Truman, is not an easy character to like.  He is a selfish man with a gambling addiction, and he has made a number of bad choices that lead to hurt and problems for him and his family.  And yet, I think the fact that the story is told in the first person from his point of view, helps the reader identify with him and feel for him, despite the negative character traits.  I have to say I enjoyed Truman’s dry and sarcastic sense of humor, which tends to keep things interesting from page one to the end.

What really resonated with me was the surprise twist at the end.  I won’t say what the twist is but I will say that I didn’t see it coming at all, and I thought it fit the rest of the story perfectly.  And yes, I cried at the end.  I couldn’t help it.  In my opinion, Chris Fabry crafted the perfect ending to a fascinating book.  There aren’t many books that I’m tempted to read a second time when there are so many other good books out there remaining to be read, but I am seriously tempted with this one.  It’s such a layered and nuanced story that I imagine a second reading would allow me to pick up on details I may have missed the first time around.  I’m also interested to check out the author’s latest book, Every Waking Moment, which sounds like it should also be an excellent read.

Specific to the audio edition:

About a year ago, I attended a lecture at a library conference where a representative from an audiobook recording studio discussed the audiobook production process at her company. She commented that while many authors wish to narrate their own audiobooks, it’s not usually a good idea.  She prefers to hire professional actors to narrate audiobooks.  In many cases, I think she’s right, but I think this audiobook proved to be an exception to that rule.  Chris Fabry did an amazing job narrating his book.  Perhaps his experience hosting his own radio show came into play.  At any rate, the listener gets to hear the author’s “voice” literally as well as figuratively, and I think in this case it adds to the enjoyment.  The sarcasm and dry humor in the main character’s words comes through loud and clear in the author’s narration.

The various character voices are well differentiated and pleasant to listen to.  Even the female characters’ voices are well done.  When male narrators try too hard to make their female characters sound distinctively female, they can come across sounding nasal or falsetto in a way that no human voice should sound.  Thankfully, that’s not the case here.  Instead female voices are mostly mid-range and sound fairly gender neutral, which in my opinion works perfectly.  You know from context they’re female, but the voice doesn’t get in the way of the story.


In short, I would highly recommend this book.  If you’re an audiobook fan or you’re looking for listening material for an extended car ride or while doing chores or errands, this one gets an enthusiastic thumbs up from me.  For those who prefer to read in print or ebook format, those editions should be good too.


Compact disc and downloadable audio editions of this title (as well as print and electronic editions) are available from christianaudio, christianbook.com, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble, and may also be available from your local library.

Author, Chris Fabry’s Web site includes a blog, links where you can connect with him on Facebook and Twitter, and a link to his Youtube channel featuring book trailers and clips where the author discusses his books.  There’s also a link to a discussion guide that’s not to be missed if you plan to discuss this book with a group.