‘A Lady Awakened’ by Cecilia Grant

ala cgSTORY: 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?

REVIEW: The above blurb is adequate in summarizing the story, so I’ll not go into it further. What I would like to tell you is how much I liked this author’s prose, in spite of the plot that I found familiar of late. But above all, I appreciated the pace of the story.

The author took the characterization of both hero and heroine very seriously by making them both flawed; Regency era gave their situation, actions and feelings a believable touch of realty so they weren’t turned into clichés and caricatures of themselves. I liked both characters very much because of who they were, who they wanted to be, and who they became to each other. The reason behind it is, yet again, the pace of the story. It helped me to connect with Martha in my own time and on my terms. She was not an easy heroine to like at first, but the more Theo got to know her, the more I liked her.

To Theo, on the other hand, I warmed up right away. His ‘devil may care’ nature may have not impressed our heroine much, at first, but it appealed to me and made me like him. As the author took us in deeper, we appreciated him more, as the heroine did. It was truly fun watching these two totally opposites come to terms with each other and slowly realizing that LOVE chose them for each other.

This is not your typical cookie cutter romance, despite its trope.  By choosing this plot, the author took a gamble in giving us the slower pace and fully developing her players first, main and secondary, thus making them very real and the plot easy to accept. I’d say the gamble paid off, as I enjoyed this Regency tale very much, and I’m looking forward to Ms. Grant’s future tales. Welcome to my Keeper shelf, Ms. Grant!

Melanie for RRAH

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