A Barb the Zany Old Lady: Audio Review: Diplomatic Relations (The Sci-Regency #4) by J.L. Langley and KC Kelly (Narrator)

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

I was excited to have a chance to listen to the audio of this new installment of a series I first started reading many years ago when I was new to MM romance. Unfortunately, the narrator’s style and pacing did not meet my expectations. In fact, at times, I cringed at a vocalization or at the way he rushed through a particular paragraph or dialogue. So, being the bookaholic I am, I got the e-book version and alternated reading with listening.

The story itself was complex and interesting. In fact, I had to pay attention carefully because many of the characters in this book appeared in the past, and while listening to the audio, I had to take “pause time” to recall old relationships—one more advantage to having the e-book(s) so I could double-check names and research past appearances. I should have reread the previous book before starting this one. I didn’t realize the first line in the blurb, which said this is a sequel to My Regelence Rake, was actually a strong hint. So, by all means, other readers should do that first. It may help with character recall.

This book features a sweet, innocent, virginal character, Blaise Thompson, one who reminded me of Aiden in My Fair Captain. Blaise fed my need for a revisit to this world. Smart as a whip, cute as a button, he was constantly trying to get his younger brother out of trouble. Enter Dalton Fairfax, a soldier between assignments and nephew of Raleigh, the King Consort. Estranged from his father and sire, Dalton doesn’t much care about his reputation, until he makes a deeper connection with Blaise than he thought he’d ever desire.

I like the universe the author has created, the complexities of the governments and off-planet entities that make their futuristic world so different. And I really love these sweet, innocent young men and the all-men society they live in. It’s refreshing to be there as they confront their first sexual attraction—usually a rake from whom they’ve been warned to stay away. But, in this case, I can’t recommend the audiobook format. E-book? Yes, by all means. The story is certainly worthwhile. But the pacing and interpretation of the story and narration of the character voices was very poorly done in audio.

The cover by Tiferet Designs features two young men standing back to back. Their attire and overall appearance represent the regency look of this story. It’s nicely done against a bright blue background.

Sales Links:   | Amazon | Audible

Audio Book Details:

Audiobook, Audible Audiobook
Published April 18th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press (first published February 19th 2019)
ASINB07Q5V7Q9M
Series Sci-Regency #4

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Diplomatic Relations (The Sci-Regency Series #4) by J.L. Langley

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

A Sci-Regency Novel: sequel to My Regelence Rake

Opposites don’t just attract… they sizzle.

A lusty special forces soldier who lives by his own set of rules, Dalton Fairfax decided long ago to stop wishing for his father’s love, and he found his calling. Now that he’s back home and between assignments, he finds himself at loose ends. When the opportunity arises to play bodyguard and help out his country, Dalton jumps at the chance. Not only does it keep him busy, but it just so happens that his charge is the man he saw on leave last month and hasn’t been able to get out of his head.

Heir to a dukedom and a conservative politician, Blaise Thompson strives to prove himself worthy of carrying on the family legacy as the next IN Councilman. However, his closest competitor keeps getting in the way and taking credit for Blaise’s ideas. Maintaining his stellar reputation isn’t easy to do while keeping his outrageous younger brother in line and foiling his rival’s personal attacks. He has no time for a guard and even less time for romance.

When a priceless antique goes missing, Blaise and Dalton discover that Regelence has larger problems than just IN plots. Now the only way to stop a scandal that threatens both of them is to compromise, and they are forced to confront the risk of losing everything… even each other

Diplomatic Relations (The Sci-Regency Series #4) by J.L. Langley marks the first departure from the original stories already published and for me that’s a plus here.  I’m not a fan of the new versions of the original stories.  I’ve done side by side comparisons with the beloved originals and the revised stories are pallid substitutes, imo, for the robust novels they replaced. Everything from the loss of the bdsm element in Aiden and Nate’s relationship in My Fair Captain to the revisionist aspects of the personalities of major characters, I have found these new revised stories to be very flawed for those of us who loved the original novels, characters and their relationships.

But I’m also addicted it seems to the series and need to see how the overall story arc plays out and what happens to various other characters.  So onward I plunge.

Diplomatic Relations is focused on Dalton Fairfax, nephew to Raleigh (aka Cony) consort to King Stephen , which gives readers more insight into that side of the Royal family.  Dalton is or was high society’s black sheep.  Always at the center of scandals, always the rakehell.  His last one gets him a ticket into the Navy and an admonition to grow up and take hold of himself, courtesy of his Uncle Raleigh.

Meanwhile, planetside, there’s Blaise Thompson, brother to the irrepressible Bannon (who appears in multiple stories), trying to adjust to his future as heir to a dukedom and as a politician.
The two become reacquainted when the treacherous plot between Regelence and the IN brings them together when Blaise needs a bodyguard.  That’s a huge simplification of a Intergalactic plot that has been unfolding through four novels, and shows no end in sight.  I really have enjoyed watching this complicated suspenseful, and action-packed element thread through every story.  There have been kidnappings, murder, IT shenanigans, and, high rescues in space.  It’s been grand and shows no sign of letting up.
But let’s trot back to Regelence.  There’s some elements here I liked and some where the continuity again is severely lacking.
That continuity.
In the first three books, the Regency society culture, especially the Ton and High Society was rigid over its rules where its young men are concerned.  Chaperones are a must.  No public displays of affection, even among those affianced.  Three dances at a ball?  That is an announcement of an intent to wed.  Bannon and Trouble’s  (as well as Aiden’s ) in getting rid of their dance cards, while funny, was also running on the edge of ruinous.  The previous books all took note of that… all it took was being “alone” in a room with another man in order to be compromised.   That’s how innocent most of these young men were.  Cloistered and insulated by Regelence’s culture to be virgins until married.  That typified both Aiden and  Payton’s background and attitude.  Plus it’s standard “Regency” fair, whether M/M or  M/F.
But here standards are relaxed to include kissing, PDA, and more which given no declaration of intent, meant that a reputation could or was on the way to be ruined (intentional or not).  This book, unlike the others, doesn’t seem to take seriously the universe in which it’s situated.  The other novels and characters within them understood the gravity of their actions,, said so, and then moved forward.  There is none of taking responsibility here should they get caught. That whole aspect of virtue and its importance in Regency culture is ignored.  Which is curious because the author uses the strictness of Regency morality when she needs to in another part of the story. Just not here. No, the ramifications of one’s actions in this society are intense and swift.  Whether it plays out in the gossip column or in the government.  But Langley applies that when it suits her, in scenes and to certain characters here and there.  And the entire story suffers in my opinion from such an approach.
That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy Dalton and Blaise’s relationship, because I did. I liked that they balanced each other in their personalities.d But, the shaky framework it exits within is noticeable. Here there are women employed as man servants, something brand new and not brought up as a possibility in the other stories.  One hand, it makes sense in a homosexual society, to include those of the opposite sex as butler etc.  But in the previous stories, they were all men, no mention of women even attaining the roles.  It would have been great to have some groundwork or foundation laid for women in these roles before seeing it here.  It brings up so many questions.  How widespread it this practice.  Is it only in the Thompson family that it occurs?   Like I said…questions.
The ending will make everyone happy, well except for Bannon who has the next story coming out.  There is a excerpt for that after the ending.  I am looking for it it.  Especially as its off planet. What could go wrong?
I’m recommending this story.  Those of you reading it as a new series are loving it as you have nothing to compare it to.  Those of us who love the first series still need to know what’s happening to all the characters and the overall arc.  This does both and gives us a lovely romance to boot.
Meet you all at Bannon’s story.  See you then.
Cover Artist: Tiferet Design: This is a very nice cover.  Brands the series and its bright and light.
Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon
Book Details:
ebook, 288 pages
Published February 19th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 164080692X (ISBN13: 9781640806924)
Edition Language English
Series Sci-Regency #4