Monday, June 10, 2013

REVIEW: "A Woman Entangled" by Cecilia Grant

A Woman Entangled (Blackshear Family, #3)
A Woman Entangled by Cecilia Grant
For Ages 18+
Historical Romance
Bantam -- June 25, 2013
Ebook, 368 pages
Received from Netgalley

Unrequited Love, Family Issues, Beta Hero

Kate Westbrook has dreams far bigger than romance. Love won’t get her into London’s most consequential parties, nor prevent her sisters from being snubbed and looked down upon—all because their besotted father unadvisedly married an actress. But a noble husband for Kate would deliver a future most suited to the granddaughter of an earl. Armed with ingenuity, breathtaking beauty, and the help of an idle aunt with connections, Kate is poised to make her dreams come true. Unfortunately, a familiar face—albeit a maddeningly handsome one—appears bent on upsetting her scheme.

Implored by Kate’s worried father to fend off the rogues eager to exploit his daughter’s charms, Nick Blackshear has set aside the torch he’s carried for Kate in order to do right by his friend. Anyway, she made quite clear that his feelings were not returned—though policing her won’t abate Nick’s desire. Reckless passion leads to love’s awakening, but time is running out. Kate must see for herself that the charms of high society are nothing compared to the infinite sweet pleasures demanded by the heart.

Discomfiture, for all that it felt like a constant companion, never failed to find new and inventive guises in which to appear.

I have been impressed with Cecilia Grant's historicals since I read her debut, A Lady Awakened, last year  The biggest thing I noticed about her romances was how unique her characters were.  She is not afraid to push the envelope by making her characters real people despite the fact that they may not be the most likable at first glance.  I admire this writing style and found that to be true with this book which is the last in the Blackshear Family trilogy.

Nick Blackshear, brother to Will of A Gentleman Undone and Martha of A Lady Awakened, is the hero of this book and he was interesting to read about.  As a barrister, Nick is not the most affluent man in London and his brother's scandalous marriage to a courtesan makes it even harder for him to gain social status.  He is very ambitious so it is understandable that he would be upset by his brother's marriage and, I think, a very realistic reaction for the time period.  I did enjoy getting to see that relationship improve over the course of the book.  Nick has had a crush on Kate Westbrook, daughter of his mentor and friend, but was unceremoniously rejected a couple years earlier.  Despite that, he remains friendly with the Westbrooks and does everything he can to insure Kate is safe.

Kate Westbrook was a bit harder to like especially in the first half of the book.  Her father was a nobleman who caused quite a scandal when he married a well-known actress and became estranged from his family.  While Mr. and Mrs. Westbrook along with most of their children are perfectly happy in their upper middle class life, Kate desires something more.  Her ultimate goal in life is to marry a nobleman (preferably a marquess) and gain back her family's reputation.  At first, I was turned off by this character trait (despite its realistic notion), but I did warm up to Kate as the story started delving into the real reasons she wanted a better life for her and her siblings.  I just wish that she wouldn't have taken so much time to realize that she didn't need money and prestige to be happy.

Nick and Kate's relationship was unique and frustrating at times for me as the reader.  In Kate's mind, her goals do not allow her to even think about marrying a barrister even though she has been good friends with Nick for years.  Nick, on the other hand, understands why Kate thinks the way that she does and he does everything in his power to make her happy.  I liked the way that Kate and Nick's friendship was depicted and how it showed that they would make a great couple.  The evolution to romance was slow, but rarely boring which is something I found Ms. Grant does extremely well.

Overall, the plot of A Woman Entangled is fairly simple: Kate is trying to get recognized by society and Nick is bound by his promise to her father which causes them to be thrown into more intimate situations as the story progresses.  I really liked the fact that the author portrayed two different reactions to scandalous marriages and that she did not sugarcoat the implications of such events.  The first half did take some time to capture my attention, but by the second half I was fully invested in Kate and Nick's story until the end.  I will admit that this is probably the weakest book of the trilogy, but it was still an enjoyable read.  I look forward to reading whatever Cecilia Grant writes next!

I received a free e-ARC of this book from Bantam and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

4 STARS -- Really enjoyable book that is just this close to being wonderful.  May or may not re-read.
There's simply no such thing as a beautiful woman who's unaware of her beauty, unless she's monumentally oblivious.  More likely she's feigning ignorance in order to snare a credulous man in a web woven out of his own illogical expectations.

1. A Lady Awakened
2. A Gentleman Undone
3. A Woman Entangled

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