AUTHOR: Cecilia Grant
SERIES: Blackshear Family #1
GENRE: Historical Romance
PUBLICATION DATE: December 27, 2011
READ DATE: December 2011
SOURCE: Goodreads First Reads
SUMMARY: Newly widowed and desperate to protect her estate and beloved servants from her malevolent brother-in-law, Martha Russell conceives a daring plan. Or rather, a daring plan to conceive. After all, if she has an heir on the way, her future will be secured. Forsaking all she knows of propriety, Martha approaches her neighbor, a London exile with a wicked reputation, and offers a strictly business proposition: a month of illicit interludes . . . for a fee.
Theophilus Mirkwood ought to be insulted. Should be appalled. But how can he resist this siren in widow’s weeds, whose offer is simply too outrageously tempting to decline? Determined she’ll get her money’s worth, Theo endeavors to awaken this shamefully neglected beauty to the pleasures of the flesh—only to find her dead set against taking any enjoyment in the scandalous bargain. Surely she can’t resist him forever. But could a lady’s sweet surrender open their hearts to the most unexpected arrival of all . . . love?
A Lady Awakened is the debut novel for historical romance author Cecilia Grant. While there were some flaws to the story, the writing style and characters were amazingly detailed and I see great things in Cecilia Grant's future as a historical romance author. This story had an intriguing premise, well-drawn characters, and plenty of sensuality.
At first glance, the plot seems to be reminiscient of many romance novel stories that have been published over the years. You have the proper widow, the charming scoundrel, the evil heir apparent, and the effort to keep the inheritance with the widow through dishonest means. But, what Grant does it take this seemingly formulaic plot and gives it depth and a realistic voice.
The hero, Theo, is a typical nineteenth century rake who has been sent to the country as punishment by his father. When he meets Martha and hears her plan, he is intrigued by her bluntness and is even a little attracted to her. Over the course of their relationship, Theo discovers the truth behind Martha's proper facade and falls in love with her. Theo is a fabulous hero. He is charming and handsome, but flawed in the way many young men of his time were. Despite his obvious spoiled nature, Theo is very sympathetic as he shows Martha and the readers how much he is willing to change. He takes his responsibilities in the country very seriously though most of that is inspired by Martha's suggestions.
Martha is a little harder to understand at first which was part of the reason I loved her. The reader's first impression of her is this proper widow who is protective of her lifestyle and willing to cheat a man out of his inheritance. She gives off a very cold personality which is showcased through her early interactions with Theo. But, like Theo, the reader learns to look deeper into Martha's character and discover the wonderful woman hiding inside. I really admired Martha and her willingness to do anything to help those she cares about. She is a unique character in the world of historical romance and I applaud Ms. Grant for introducing such a fascinating heroine.
As a couple, Martha and Theo were an intereresting mix. This was definitely an opposites attract type of romance which is one of my personal favorites. I loved reading about their interactions and how their views of each other changed over the course of the book. I also thought the way their relationship developed from strangers to friends to lovers was pretty realistic and appropriately slow. This was a very mature romance and was depicted wonderfully. I will warn readers that there is a significant amount of sex scenes in this book due to the plot. These vary in the hotness factor throughout the book, but I thougth it was a nice way to portray the changing relationship of Martha and Theo.
I only had a few issues with this book, but most of these can be solved through experience as a writer. There were a lot of historical details in this book on subjects such as tenant schooling and land use. While I love seeing the results of author's research, the plot did start to get bogged down by too many details. I loved the romance and wanted to concentrate on that more than the future of the school on Martha's land. Also, I would have liked for the "villain" to have been in the story a little longer. He had a fabulously evil reputation built up that fell a little flat by the end.
All in all, this was a well-written debut and I look forward to reading more of Ms. Grant's work. I am particularly intrigued by the prospect of finding out more about Martha's brother who was stationed at Waterloo in A Gentleman Undone.
4 OUT OF 5 STARS
A Lady Awakened
A Gentleman Undone (To Be Released May 2012)
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