Audiobook review: If I Loved You Less
Author: Tamsen Parker
Narrator: Jill Smith
Audio Speed: 1.0x
Genre: Contemporary Romance, LGBTQ, Lesbian Romance
Until now, the audiobook reviews I’ve done have either been for books I haven’t had the opportunity to read in any other format, or they’ve been spaced far enough away from the earlier review that the two felt more distinct, for various reasons. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case for If I Loved You Less, and I couldn’t help being a little disappointed in the audio incarnation. All the same elements were there, but, where my positive reactions to the ebook were similar, the opposite were more pronounced.
Filled with plenty of diverse characters, gorgeous scenery, (YES, PLEASE!!!) drool-worthy delicacies, and an unflinching acknowledgement of social and economic disparity, If I Loved You Less still has quite a lot in its plus column. Helped along by the narration, the lush vistas and unfamiliar flavors seemed more tempting in many ways, and the secondary characters that decorate the background of Theo’s existence shone with added presence and meaning. Kini, in particular, I liked even better for most of the audiobook, although I did have a few moments of discomfort about their relationship towards the very end.
Once again, however, I had some difficulties with Theo. As I noted in the earlier review, Theo really doesn’t read like a twenty-five-year-old woman. She is petulant, selfish, insincere, and lacks the earnest repentance of Austen’s original. Ironically, in the hands of a talented narrator, these issues stood out in sharper contrast than they did in the ebook. This same effect also made me a little disillusioned with her relationship with Kini, who transformed from tough-love best friend and partner to something of a stern auntie figure. As a reimagining of Emma, making comparisons is unavoidable, even though the narrative might suffer for it.
Taking the above into account, I do feel that Jill Smith did very well with the narration. The (imaginary) sensation-induced fluctuations in emphasis and tone of her voice were fun to listen to, and she handily kept all the different personalities from running together throughout the story. Most of the characters benefitted a good deal from her obviously thoughtful consideration of their temperaments, quirks, passions, and occasional evasions making the author’s words more immediately accessible and generally comfortable.
While I still feel If I Loved You Less is worth a try as a retelling of Emma, I think I would have liked the audiobook more had I not listened to it so soon after reading the ebook. Jill Smith is a consistent and enjoyable narrator, and I especially appreciated the effort she put into her treatment of the setting and additional characters. Surprisingly, If I Loved You Less went by faster than I thought it would, considering how much detail the author packs into every chapter. Regardless, I’ve enjoyed several stories now from this author/narrator pairing, and I’ll be keeping my eyes open for even more titles in the future.
Review copy provided by the author.
About the Book:
Matchmaking? Check. Surfing? Check. Falling in love? As if.
Sunny, striking, and satisfied with her life in paradise, Theodosia Sullivan sees no need for marriage. She does, however, relish serving as matchmaker for everyone who crosses her path. As the manager of her family’s surf shop in Hanalei Bay, that includes locals and tourists alike. One person she won’t be playing cupid for is the equally happy bachelorette down the street.
Baker Kini ʻŌpūnui has been the owner of Queen’s Sweet Shop since her parents passed away and her younger brother married Theo’s older sister and moved to Oahu. Kini’s ready smile, haupia shortbread, and lilikoi malasadas are staples of Hanalei’s main street. However, Theo’s matchmaking machinations and social scheming soon become less charming – even hazardous – to everyone involved. And when she fails to heed Kini’s warnings about her meddling, she may be more successful than she ever intended. Theo has to face the prospect of Kini ending up with someone else just as she realizes she’s loved Kini all along.