Audiobook Review: The Innocent Auction (Innocent #1) by Victoria Sue

London 1810.

Their love was a death sentence.

Deacon, Viscount Carlisle, was aware of the slums and gin-lanes of London. Just as he was aware of the underground traffic that furnished the brothels and bath houses with human innocents. He was also aware that the so-called justice system would hang the accused without much of an attempt at a defense, unless the unfortunate had deep pockets to pay for it.

He just hadn’t expected to be directly involved in any of it.

It started with a plea for help and ended with forbidden love, the love between a Viscount and a stable-boy. An impossible love and a guarantee of the hangman's noose.

Will Deacon fight for Tom? Will he risk the death sentence and take that fight from the stately halls of his English mansion to the horrors of Newgate Prison and the slums of London?

Or will he realize that if he doesn't, death will be a welcome end to the loneliness of the sentence he is already living?

Narrated by: Joel Leslie
Listening Length: 6 hr 44 mins

I'm not sure how I got it in my head that this was slavefic but I did. I'm guessing I saw what I wanted to see. Because weirdo.

If your brain works like mine and you see the word "auction" and automatically think "slavefic" this is not that book. But it's still really good

Deacon gets wind that his cousin Beau has gone to an innocent auction and hot foot's it after him. Beau has a tendency to be impulsive and his being there could sully the family name so Deke to the rescue! An innocent auction is, apparently, where young boys are sold to god knows who for god knows what reasons. Why Beau went to this thing in the first place eludes me. I'm thinking maybe he was drunk and therefore suggestible. Because YUCK! Just yuck.

At the auction Deacon spots a boy with the bluest eyes on stage, eyes that pierce him and is consumed with a visceral need to protect him from what's surely coming to him if he's auctioned off. So he buys him in a melee just prior to the police busting up the whole thing. The boy's filthy, malnourished and terrified and Deacon wants to wrap him up in bubble wrap and make it all better. He sends him to his father's country estate with his trusted employee Joe where he'll be safe and out of London.

Four years later his father dies and when Deacon arrives at the estate to get his ducks in a row he finds it on the brink of bankruptcy. There's also a boy who's all grown up now.

Tom reminds me of Westly: sweet, devoted, earnest and a hardworking stable boy. Tom hasn't forgotten Deacon. The longing they both have is intense with UST galore. The age difference matters not to either of them, but the class difference is another matter altogether. Plus there is the issue of Deacon needing a sizable amount of money to get the estate back up and running. For that he'll likely need to marry Harriet to acquire her 30 pieces of silver.

I thought the class difference was handled well as both men seem evenly matched in all other aspects and well suited to one another. There's no discernible power differential aside from the obvious, but Deacon treats all his servants with respect.

Both are virgins which doesn't really do much for me but I thought it was sweet that they lost their virginity together. Their relationship is fluffy without being saccharine and a dash of smut thrown in to keep things lively.

There is sadness to this narrative though by way of Beau which segues to the action plotline that maybe was a tad OTT but entertaining nonetheless. The Harriet thing is the only plot point that I thought was weak though it did lead to a heartwarming HEA. So whatever.

The brightest of the bright spots however was Joel Leslie. He knocked this out of the park! Breathing life into these characters, giving them each their own distinct voices and bringing a passion and vivaciousness to this story. Hell, he even threw in a Scottish brogue in there on top of the kagrillion British voices he had going. Incredible. Really incredible. I'll definitely be on the lookout for more of his work in the future.

If you're in need of a sweet historical give The Innocent Auction a try.

A review copy was provided.

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