Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Cecilia Grant - A Lady Awakened

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?

Comment: This book got on my radar months ago and it was the pick for my buddy read of this month with my friend H.
This is the first book by the author I've tried so my expectations were as simple as wanting to have a good story.

In this book we meet Martha Russell, a recent widow who is worried about the future of her employees at the estate where she lives because having her and her husband no children, her husband's younger brother will inherit. The problem is that the brother is a rake and has attacked to maids when he was younger. Because Martha is pragmatic and wants to help and defend those she considers her responsibility, she has a plan: to find a man to get pregnant and pretend it's the heir her husband always wanted.
The "lucky" chosen is Theo Mirkwood, a man whose father sent to a sort of exile from the easy life of London, so he could cultivate some patience and interest for something rather than debauchery. Theo thinks his life in Sussex will be boring but after meeting Martha they immediately agree on trying for a pregnancy but as time goes and they get to know one another, Theo realizes life in Sussex is actually perfect for him. 
If only Martha thought the same...

I was quite eager to see how the read this book because I got the notion somewhere the heroine is stoic in adversity and she doesn't fall prey to the hero right away. I'm very fond of pragmatic heroines, or women who got themselves in a bad situation but with patience, intelligence and sometimes the help of the hero, they get back on their feet. I was quite eager to see how tis would happen in this novel. 
However, I got slightly disappointed because I feel the relationship lacks romance.

I didn't want the heroine to change completely just because she as being intimate with the hero. But their relationship evolved as too practical: they were intimate, she obviously wasn't fond of it, it was a sort of duty to her but while I didn't expect her to switch her behavior after one night, I also hoped their relationship outside the bedroom would change a bit more quickly so the bedroom scenes would develop at the same rhythm. 

Martha says at some point she would only love/easily welcome a man sexually if she could also admire him. And Theo isn't an admirable man at first. He grows up, he changes for the better but it's only at the end that things start to be easier with them and I guess I hoped for a more romantic plot, even maintaining the heroine's pragmatism in regard of the whole situation.
Martha's character is difficult to read. I know that is the oint and I liked how she didn't become a sex addict after one time with Theo. But when we read things from her POV it's not always understandable why she lacks emotions as much.
As for Theo, he is funny and easy going but we come to see his serious side and honestly, that was my favorite pat of the story, to see him slowly changing for better.

The end was also a bit too rushed and unromantic in my opinion. Things get to an acceptable point and when I imagined a lengthier epilogue, there was none, just the idea they were in love and would stay together despite those who wouldn't accept them. Ok, but an epilogue 5 years from then would have made things easier to visualize when it comes to the HEA.

I liked the idea of he heroine not being a silly woman scheming and I also really liked the notions there were people caring about servants and that they needed help and looking after. It was really amazing to see a story develop unlike most historicals out there. I was also great to see the book was not about who seduces whom the better, but I was instead a joining of forces and a gradual fall into love (but maybe a bit too subtle).
Maybe these ideas were focused on in an interesting way but then the lack of romance in some key moments and some other minor details just didn't make this story as engaging or addictive as I hoped for. Just my opinion, of course.

I still don't know if I'll read the rest of the series but so far this book didn't make me eager to get them...maybe after my TBR decreases a bit more..
This was mostly ok, interesting idea and details but overall, not as perfect for me.
Grade: 6/10

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