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Summary

Dr. Jay Sorrentino is getting married in 10 days’ time to the girl of his dreams, so what the hell is he doing in a gay London club with a stupidly handsome stranger? As if calling off the wedding and alienating his friends and family isn’t enough, Jay also has to contend with starting a new job at a new hospital. So the last thing he needs is for the bloke from the club to be his prickly supervisor. 

Dr. Lucien Avery is a difficult colleague. He’s also the unexpected and reluctant heir to the vast Rossingley estate. Reclusive and miserable, he hates most of his colleagues, people who eat packed lunches, and supervising junior doctors. That is, until the delectable Dr. Sorrentino turns up on his doorstep. 

A light-hearted M/M contemporary romance, Rossingley takes place in Southern England and is centered around a fictional country house and estate by the same name. The first in the series, it can be enjoyed as a stand-alone.

©2020 Fearne Hill (P)2022 NineStar Press, LLC

What listeners say about To Hold a Hidden Pearl

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Light and sweet

I absolutely loved this light hearted contemporary novel!

The chemistry between Jay and Dr Lucien was electricity.

This was my first book by this author and I'm in love with their writing style

The narrator performed an amazing audio delivery and narration.

Definitely recommend

2 people found this helpful

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I love this book so much!

I read this book with my eyes back in September; it was my first book by Fearne Hill and it blew me away. I was so happy to receive a review copy of the audiobook; it’s the first one I’ve listened to narrated by Richard Stranks and I think he did a good job. I must admit that I’m glad I’d previously read this story as it took me a few chapters to become accustomed to Richard Stranks voice. However, by the end of the audio my eyes were leaking just like when I read the book. If he narrates the next book in this series I will undoubtedly get into it right from the beginning.

Below are some comments I made when I reviewed the ebook:
I absolutely adored this book! It’s delightfully British, it has quirky characters and the combination of a medical setting and an Earl’s estate made it even more interesting to me. This book had me LOL’ing more times than I can count while at the same time tugging at my heart and being sad for the doctor who lost his whole family.

While I wouldn’t consider this story a romcom – most of my laughter came near the beginning – it certainly has a good mix of serious stuff and witty banter. It got a bit more somber for me after the half-way point. Lucien has to deal with a former lover and Jay has to decide how he’s going to deal with the mess he left when he called off his wedding at nearly the last minute.

A complimentary copy of this audiobook was provided to me at my request but my review was voluntary and not influenced by the author and/or narrator.

2 people found this helpful

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Languidly sweet exploration of healing

I have been looking forward to audio version of this series and the first instalment does not disappoint! I was wary after author Fearne Hll announced the narrator was not one of the usual go-to ones, I feared my reading experience would have been spoiled by facile descent to camp characterisation. However, Richard Stranks proves to be a marvel and his languidly exquisite portrayal of Dr. Lucien brought the fey character perfectly alive. Same for the other protagonist Jay, the younger, eager to please man Dr. Lucien falls for. Stranks was equally talented in narrating rest of characters, be it female or male. I'm very much looking forward to rest of the series in audio format and hope Richard Stranks will deservedly become more frequently heard narrator.

The story is one of healing for Dr. Lucien on slow recovery from losing his family in a devastating accident; and coming to terms for Dr. Jay Sorrentino who admits to himself he is gay just days before his wedding. While the subjects are heavy and could be wrought with overbearing angst, Fearne Hill's lyrical prose weaves even the painful parts in beautiful language that evokes the soothing beauty of an English stately home park. To my delight this story is one of the rarer adult versions of handling a romantic relationship and I am not referring to the undeniably hot intimate moments, but that characters are not made to recede to the levels of teenagers in a hissy fit, they actually talk like grown up, intelligent people.
The book has a perfect ending for the main characters, but it has opened the door to a secret garden you want to keep on exploring further without hurry and sit down on a bench for a while, watching the kites flying above.

2 people found this helpful

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A beautiful story

To Hold a Hidden Pearl is the first book I've read by Fearne Hill, but I'll keep that name in mind.
I totally enjoyed the writing style. Fearne Hill writes emotionally, you feel right along with the protagonists. But it never gets cheesy and the protagonists talk like normal adult people, which is a plus. Because the themes are not always light, it's about loss, healing and hope, which is wonderfully woven into the romance.
Lucien lost his family in a terrible accident and is slow to recover from it. He is a lovable, wonderful character with depth that you can't help but take to your heart. Jay called off his wedding at the last minute because he admits to being gay. When the two meet, a great friendship develops that soon becomes more.
This is a romantic book that I thoroughly enjoyed. It was entertaining with great characters and there were laughs in between.

The audiobook was narrated by Richard Stranks and it took me a little while to get used to him. But after that, it fit because his voice and performance became more and more likeable the more I listened to him. He spoke the two characters in distinctly different voices, so as a reader you have no trouble distinguishing between them.
I'm already looking forward to the next volume!

I requested a free copy of the audiobook and this is my honest opinion that I am volunteering

1 person found this helpful

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Boring and I hated Jay

DNF @ 85%-90% with 1hr and 41mins left of the audio book.

Nope! First of all this was exceptionally boring for me! And secondly I couldn't care less about Jay from the fact that he couldn't believe that Lucian was mourning a patient everyone was saying he spend a lot of time with, his appealingly phobic language, the fact that he wouldn't even give the smallest of explanations to his ex-fiance and to his family of why he broke it off. Yes coming out is something that someone has to do on their terms and I didn't expect him to do that but at least say something than let everyone dangling and let it become a huge thing.

I wish the TWs were given at the beginning of the audio book because between asking for this and picking it up for a listen a week had passed in which I had traveled to Edinburgh for RARE22 and completely forgotten them (the TWs) so the loss and grief for his parents (even though it was mentioned on the prologue but it was in such a clinical way it didn't really click for me till I've seen it through Lucian's eyes) and even more so the loss of Billy Ray was heavy and I won't even go into Jay's very much not PC language and the homophobia aplenty.

When it comes to narration apart from the odd long pause here and there or the obvious gulping or deep breath mid-sentence my main issue with the narrator was that when we were in the heads of the MCs, and there was a lot of telling(!) and not showing, it was difficult at times to differentiate between the 2 MCs.

Honestly at this point and the mood I'm in, I'm not sure I'll revisit the author again.

I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book.

1 person found this helpful

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Lovely

This is the first book I've read by this author and I'm so pleased to see there are two more in this series. This was a lovely story about responsibility, all while being true to yourself. It deals with death and grief, and there were moments where I cried, even though I knew what was coming.
Jay is lovely, finally true to himself despite the pressure to conform. Embracing his newfound sexuality is a joy and boy, he couldn't have picked a more complex character than Lucien Avery.
The narrator was also new to me but I thought he was excellent.

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enjoyed

this was a new to me author and narrator. I took a chance and wasn't disappointed.

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To Hold a Hidden Pearl

I enjoyed this listen a lot more than I thought I would. I want sure at the beginning, but I’m had I stuck it out. They are a lot of complexities. It felt both rushed and slow burn at the same time. There was a tad bit more push/pull than I generally like. Overall, I think it was a good listen, and I’d check out more by the author. The narration was good, especially once I settled in - I did speed it up a little.

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I'm conflicted about this one.

TRIGGER WARNINGS: Survivor's guilt, depression, suicidal ideation, borderline eating disorder, prolonged death of a young person, homophobic language from one MC and one supporting character.

Hmm... I'm not sure how I feel about this book. Sometimes I was really enjoying it, and then other times I could hardly bear to finish it.

I adore Lucien. He is exactly the type of character I like, a prickly pear with a soft gooey center. He's a complex, brilliant man, and I just adored all the different sides to him. Witnessing him falling in love with Jay was just adorable.

I just wish he had fallen in love with a better man.

Aaaarrrgghhhh Jay. He could be so sweet and caring towards Lucien, and I just loved the very nurturing scenes. But then other times he was just so frustratingly selfish that I wanted to wring his neck! He made a lot of problems for himself, and was a whiny b***h about it. He kept talking about not wanting to hurt anyone, and in so doing managed to hurt everyone by not being honest with them.

Jay's actions towards Lucien after the death of their patient turned my stomach, and I had to leave the book for a good few days before I could finish it. He shows no empathy towards Lucien, no understanding of why Lucien might be particularly affected by this young man's death in spite of knowing the similarities in their stories. He's just focused on having sex with Lucien, and pays no attention to the fact that Lucien is in a mental health crisis.

When they do have sex for the first time (while Lucien is still suffering this crisis) Jay REFUSES TO USE THE CONDOM THAT LUCIEN TAKES OUT, EVEN SAYING THAT HE HASN'T BEEN TESTED IN YEARS! This alone is a big NOPE. He also allows his best friend to use a lot of homophobic language when talking about Lucien (this man is also supposed to be a doctor!) without pulling him up about it.

In my opinion, Jay treated everybody badly, his parents, his ex-fiance and Lucien, while still convinced of his own martyrdom. He never refers to what he did when he first met Lucien as cheating, even saying that he's never cheated.

I think it's a bad sign when by the end of the book I'm hoping that somehow the main characters won't end up together, and one will find the person who will worship them as they deserve.

Richard Stranks is a new to me narrator, and I really enjoyed his narration. His portrayal of the multi-faceted Lucien is especially impressive, I'll keep an eye out for more of his work.

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New to me author and I can’t wait for more!

I’d never heard of Fearne Hill, but I was happy to snap up the first audiobook by this author. I will take issue with the ‘light-hearted’ label – I needed tissues. But I loved it. A little tear now and then is a good thing, as far as I’m concerned.

I’ll start with Lucien. I felt great empathy for him. Oh, he’s a jerk at work – but he’s also faced great personal tragedy that’s left him overwhelmed and feeling not up to the task of running his family’s estate. He was the spare – this wasn’t supposed to be his burden to bear. On top of that, he’s gay – which doesn’t do well to continue the lineage – of which he is the seventeenth. He also has a secret fetish that he keeps hidden from the world. Hence the pearls.

I also loved Jay. The bloke’s about to get married but is also realizing he might not be as straight as he’s always believed. Before tying himself to a woman he adores and a lacklustre sex life, he heads to a gay club in London. The results are… interesting. In the end, he realizes he can’t go through with the wedding. He breaks his fiancée’s heart, and creates a huge mess to disentangle, but he’s free.

Until he comes face-to-face with the guy from the bar.

Uh…awkward.

Underpinning the relationship is the goings-on in a hospital. Through Lucien we meet many different patients and even now I’m tearing up. Those stories were heart-wrenching – and a reflection of real life. Still – tremendously impactful.

I loved Jay and Lucien together – they just fit. And yes, that makes life complicated for both – but it also brings happiness neither anticipated. And I loved the epilogue.

This is just the first in the series and I can’t wait for the next book. Finally, Richard Stranks is a new narrator to me and I have to say he did a great job. Won’t hesitate to pick him up again.

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  • cabc
  • 26-05-22

Fearne’s romantic debut!

Narration: I think this is the first time I’ve listened to Richard and I really enjoyed his narration. He brought the characters to life and I especially liked his voice for Lucien. I’d definitely listen to more of his narrations.

Story: To Hold a Hidden Pearl is everything! I don't know that my review will do the story justice, but I'll try.

Dr. Lucien Avery is one of my favorite characters of all time. Initially he is a very guarded man, keeping others away with his rudeness. But the real Lucien is a very sweet, sensitive, and lonely man. He doesn't care what others think at all and freely expresses himself. He's not one for labels, but I don't think it'd be wrong to consider him as genderfluid with more feminine days than masculine. I really loved that even though Lucien is hurting deeply, he opens himself up to Jay and Lucien trusts that he can support himself even if their relationship breaks down or doesn't progress past friendship. Oh, and Lucien doesn't like to swear, so his favorite alternative is "gosh" and it's pretty adorable.

Jay has the weight of the world on his shoulders. Upon meeting Lucien, he is immediately drawn to the reclusive man. There is just something about Lucien that calls out to him. As they get to know each other, a lovely friendship builds between the two of them until it becomes more. I love that Jay never judges Lucien for freely expressing himself but rather encourages Lucien to express himself more. And even though Jay is questioning his sexuality throughout the book, he tries hard to not place that burden at Jay's feet.

This book is incredibly romantic and their love for each other is beautiful.They do fall for each other relatively quickly, but I wouldn't consider this story instalove. There's definitely a friendship that forms first. There is some angst in the story, but it's mainly around Jay dealing with his sexuality and avoiding his family. Without giving anything away, the way that the concept of "coming out" is handled in this book is really refreshing!

Fearne Hill is now a one-click author for me and I can't wait to read the second book in this series!

1 person found this helpful

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  • Violet Marshall
  • 16-06-22

A Great Book

This is the first book in The Rossingley Series. I found this story and its characters stunning. I don’t give very many 5 star reviews in fact I can’t even remember the last one that I gave that’s how few. But I am giving this one 5 stars not because it was perfect because it wasn’t. But this story enthralled me and kept me in involved with its characters. I have read and listened to so many books that I can easily get bored with a story. That didn’t happen with this one I wanted the next book “RIGHT NOW”.

The plot was entertaining and it was steady throughout the book. The characters were well developed and thought out. Jay and Lucien are the MC’s of this book. I will admit that this book probably isn’t for everyone but if you have an open mind and like substance to a story jump on this book. The narration I have mixed feeling about. I think that the narrator did a good job. It wasn’t monotone and there were places that the emotion was brought out to its fullest. My problem is that he wasn’t my favorite as far as his voice. There wasn’t anything wrong it was more a personal thing like preferring blue eyes instead of brown there’s nothing wrong with either but everyone has their own preference. I can highly recommend this as a good read/listen. I voluntarily read an advance copy of this book for an honest review.

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  • Leah Brock
  • 14-06-22

Heartfelt Love Story; Superb Narration

Marvelously well-written and accompanied by the sublime voice performance of Richard Stranks, ‘To Hold a Hidden Pearl’ is one of the best books I’ve read this year. This book has given me my favorite kind of surprise–new-to-me artists that convince me from the start that I’ve found something special.

I love both main characters, Lucien and Jay, but I REALLY love Lucien. Hill has created a character who has both a heart-breaking vulnerability and masks it with emotional barriers that make him seem emotionally unavailable. Jay must work to get to the squishy adorable Lucien that lies beneath. Readers are treated to a superlative story full of opposites-attract, hurt/comfort, and gay-awakening tropes. I want to do a re-listen already.

Richard Stranks’ amazing performance of this book leaves me looking forward to more from him. He’s definitely someone to keep an eye (ear?) out for.

A free ARC was given to me at my request and this review is voluntary.

Highly recommended.

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  • Jeanette A L
  • 12-06-22

even better on audio

It was a great book.

It was angsty but o so good.

Great love story with alot of emotions

I have now listen to the book also and I love Lucian. He is one of my favourite characters in MM books. And the audio is really good!

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  • AG
  • 06-06-22

Lucien and Jay



I really enjoyed this story. Lucien has shut himself off from the world and when Jay is given a glimpse into the person behind the uncaring mask he is determined to hide behind. I hated seeing Lucien suffer while he had Jay getting everything wrapped up in his life but he understood that it needed to be done. I enjoyed the narration and I thought the narrator did a great job portraying the characters emotions.

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  • Shawna
  • 06-06-22

Character-driven romance

Lucien, in particular, is very finely drawn and I felt most connected to and affected by his emotional arc. There are some tough things in this book, but because Lord Rossingley is used to putting a good face on things, the terrible things are often softened by humor.

It's a very British story, and the narrator did a great job with the airy posh tones of Lucien and the Midlands round the edges Jay, still conveying a lot of subtle emotion and inflection in each character. And his French accent was both recognizable and just barely there in a way that makes me hope he'll narrate the next one, too.

While it's not a perfect book, it created big emotions that felt real to me. I teared up a couple of times when in Lucien's POV; it's not every rich bloke you can make me empathize with. I wish we'd gotten to see some of Jay's working out of his predicaments, but there was enough groundwork laid that I could imagine how they would play out. (And I've heard that we see more of these two in the background of Book Two, so I'm even more excited to check that one out.

I also enjoyed the various sides of Lucien and how Jay could see how he'd shift in and out of his roles as the situation required, but knew that there was someone who needed love underneath them all.

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  • Alison Daniels
  • 06-06-22

Amazing story with beautifully flawed characters!

This book was magical from the first chapter! I loved getting to know these characters throughout the book and was so happy to see them find their HEA in the end. Jay and Lucien were such opposites from the very beginning but it is clear just how well they complement each other the closer they become. Both men are hiding some pretty deep trauma from the other initially but they finally turn toward the each other, instead of away, working together to build something magical between them. It was so heartbreaking to see Lucien hiding away from the world after losing his family suddenly but I loved that Jay was able to coax him out into the world again and begin to build a new family. Jay's struggle to accept his sexuality openly were difficult to read and I hated what it meant for Lucien for a large portion of the book but I loved the way the two men handled it together. There were so many interesting side characters introduced in this book and I can't wait to read their stories in the next books of the series.

This is the first book I have listened to that has been narrated by Richard Stranks and I absolutely loved him! His voice was pleasant to listen to and he brought so much to the characters without distracting from the story. I would happily listen to more of his work in the future!

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  • Dee Slate
  • 05-06-22

Lovely story, excellent narration!

This was such a lovely story, sometimes funny, poignant, but not angsty or depressing despite a family tragedy.
I enjoyed the MCs very much, I especially loved Lucien - he'd been through a lot - and Jay, who pushed through with his attraction to Lucien and was protective of him. It is a story of finding and being true to one's self, trying to overcome grief and allowing someone into one's heart and being fabulous and comfy with who you are and always will be.
Narration
Richard Stranks had the characters down pat! His 'highborn' voice for Lucien was authentic without being overdone and he flowed effortlessly into Jay's solid, slightly Brummie accent. He also conveyed their emotions so well I 'felt' them too. He paid the same detailed attention to the secondary character voices as well.

I thoroughly enjoyed his performance and really hope to hear him narrate others in the series and other books.

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  • Vania
  • 05-06-22

This was such a sweet and beautiful story!

Such a beautiful, heartwarming story. So many feelings and two men who find strength in each other. Jay to finally admit to himself he’s gay, calling of the wedding with a girl everybody loves and thus alienating friends and family. Meanwhile Jay gives Lucien the strength to start taking back the reins of his life after losing his entire family in an accident.
Beautiful setting, wonderful writing and a very talented narrator, made this audiobook one I happily ignored everyone around me and stayed up way too late for!

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  • The Book Wench
  • 05-06-22

A kind of Upstairs/Downstairs tale

Dr. Jay Sorrentino's brave but painful decision to call off his wedding ten days before the event doesn't endear him to most people, especially not his now ex-fiancee. His reason, which he refuses to share with any of his circle until almost the end, becomes also the reason he must eventually decide to come out of the closet since he intends to win back the love of his life. And that man, Dr. Lucien Avery, must overcome his own demons of loss in order to fully embrace the man with whom he makes a rather ill-advised hookup the first time they meet. Serendipity, even if when the unknown young man who pleasures him so well turns out to also be the young doctor he's charged with mentoring. I enjoyed the premise and the differences between them as well as the real problems they must figure out a way to solve which made me care about them and root for their relationship to bloom and grow. The narrator did a fairly good job, especially in Lucien's upper-class tones.