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The Lioness of Morocco by Julia Drosten
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The Lioness of Morocco

by Julia Drosten

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4 "Charting Her Own Course" Stars for the story and 4.5 Stars for the narration.

The Lioness of Morocco is a book that defies convention. It reads mostly like historical fiction detailing the saga of one family over a number of decades with some mystery/suspense and romance elements thrown in. Perhaps what I enjoyed the most was the historical aspect of this novel, as there aren't too many books that give you a picture of what it was like to live in Morocco as an English woman in the nineteenth century. Additionally, the talented narration by Henrietta Meire makes this a good title to experience in audiobook format.

Before delving into the background which will necessarily need to be short so as not to spoil the story for you; and as I mostly listen to romances, I feel a note of caution is merited. I would be remiss not to mention that for the typical romance listener there will definitely be some disappointments along the way, as this is not your typical romance. However, I encourage you to listen to the very end, as rest assured there is a HEA.

Sibylla Spencer is practically an old spinster at the age of 23 as she is still a single woman at the age of 23 living in 19th century England. As the daughter of a rich merchant, however, her interest for leading her own business has been sparked, and she is less concerned with societal conventions than most women of her age and time. Instead she dreams of being able to explore her own mercantile ventures. So when an ambitious employee of her father's saves her from a near drowning, she finally capitulates to his courting overtures, and before long they are wed. However, sadly for her, her new husband Benjamin seems to be much more attracted to the wealth she brings to their marriage than her.

Then Benjamin is offered an opportunity to lead a merchant trading venture in Morocco, an opportunity that Sibylla wholeheartedly endorses. Before long, their lives have completely changed both culturally and businesswise as even Sibylla finally launches her own clandestine business venture trading with the wives and concubines of the Moroccan leaders.

But as things begin to change, Benjamin's greed and apathy towards Sibylla put into play a series of events that lead to a complete change in their lives, including the uncovering of an embezzling scheme and Sibylla's discovery of a man who shows her what it feels like to truly feel love. Just how will this story end? Will Benjamin take down Sibylla with his own greedy exploits? Will Sibylla finally get to experience what life can be like with a man who truly loves her?

The narration by Henrietta Meire is well done which was not an easy feat with this subject matter. This is a difficult audiobook to narrate because of the multitude of accents to create--from the heroine's English accent to the Moroccan accents and even a French accent--Ms. Meire's skill with switching between accents is important to lending credibility and sense of genuineness to this story. She also varies her pitch appropriately so that you can distinguish the gender between the numerous male and female characters that play a part in this story.

Ms. Meire also does a good job with timing her delivery. She is able to create a sense of suspense in the applicable passages as well as vary her speed to match the scene being enacted.

All in all, I'm glad I listened to The Lioness of Morocco. This was definitely a book that was completely different from most of my more typical listens, so it provided an opportunity for introspection and reflection. Additionally, it also made me appreciate just how far women's independence has come.

Source: Review copy provided for review purposes. ( )
  B.J.O. | Aug 12, 2017 |
Very few books set in a foreign land have been able to so immerse me into a culture. Several times, I forgot I was reading a book and felt like I was looking out my window and seeing a whole New World.
Not only did the setting make me fall in love with Morocco but the characters in the conflict enveloped me in a story I didn’t want to leave. I love the main character, Sibylla, who grew emotionally during the story. But every woman in the story evolved during this epic family saga.
In addition, I have a greater understanding of how trade impacted countries from an economic standpoint as well as an environmental and social standpoint. The story itself had everything you want in a book: adventure, war, heartache, and love. While this book will appeal to many who read romance novels this goes far beyond just a romance and truly shows the historical value of one little plant, the saffron. The Lioness of Morocco is exactly what historical fiction should be.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

I received a free copy but voluntarily reviewed. ( )
  ZaBethMarsh | Jul 21, 2017 |
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Independent-minded Sibylla Spencer feels trapped in nineteenth-century London, where her strong will and progressive views have rendered her unmarriageable. Still single at twenty-three, she is treated like a child and feels stifled in her controlling father's house. When Benjamin Hopkins, an ambitious employee of her father's trading company, shows an interest in her, she realizes marriage is her only chance to escape. As Benjamin's rising career whisks them both away to exotic Morocco, Sibylla is at last a citizen of the world, reveling in her newfound freedom by striking her first business deals, befriending locals...and falling in love for the first time with a charismatic and handsome Frenchman. But Benjamin's lust for money and influence draws him into dark dealings, pulling him ever further from Sibylla and their two young sons. When he's arrested on horrible charges, the fate of Sibylla's family rests on her shoulders, as she must decide whether she'll leave him to his fate or help him fight for his life.… (more)

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