Last couple of weeks I felt like I entered a ‘read-a-thon’ and ‘crammed’ a lot of books. Some were just okay and some good, and then there’s ‘A Gentleman Undone’ by Cecilia Grant. Have you heard of her? If you haven’t, I’m here to tell you that you NEED, HAVE to read her work. She debuted a few months ago with ‘A Lady Awakened’ and now she gifted us with ‘A Gentleman Undone’. Her covers are amazing and I truly can see Martha, the heroine (sister of the hero on the second cover) to be this woman, as I could easily imagine Will to be lying there as one scene in particular brings this cover to life!
Here are some of the reasons behind my enthusiasm and why I’ve become such a fan of this author: her prose and characters make my heart flutter with anticipation and joy; her plots that set the pace of the story make me feel the angst so acutely that I don’t even realize that I’m holding my breath; she doesn’t just write romance, she writes love stories that are deep, complex and ooze passion, compassion and humanity.
She doesn’t just ‘tell’ me the story. Oh, no! She builds it with muscle and sinew, than adds the fat to it and I feel…I sigh…I cry and laugh…I savor. And when I’m done reading that last sentence, I feel full, my appetite satisfied and I catch myself…smiling.
If you’re still in doubt about reading both of these books [and you do not need to read them in order], here’s the Book Trailer for a Lady [which I hope will get you in a mood for a Gentleman] and two of the many, many awesome scenes from a Gentleman….
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“Again, the dark library with that moonlit bay window. His grip mangling the chair’s padded arms. He ought not to look this time. She’d be angry – she hadn’t liked him broaching the incident in their hallway conversation upstairs– and doubtless find a way to part him from more of his money. Fool that he was.
But he could no more stop himself than he could push back a tide. Slowly, inexorably, he came up out of the chair, angling for one illicit glimpse. Another inch– another–and he saw round the bookshelf into the bay. He could almost believe she was made of moonlight itself. Moonlight undulating, the way it did on an ocean when you’d sailed away and left shore behind.
Arms twisted up above her head. Face tilted. If only confound Roanoke weren’t there to spoil the view… and then, as though she’d read his thoughts, one pale arm sank away from the drapes. She sat her palm to the middle of the man’s chest and pushed. Roanoke stumbled backward and–most obliging of him–wavered and dissolved altogether.
She opened her eyes. Will’s heart lurched up out of his chest to thunder directly between his ears. Would that instant of awful vulnerability repeat itself in her face?– but no. She registered his presence, and her generous mouth quirked, just slightly, at the corners. He hadn’t caught her off guard this time. His heart rebounded to its proper place. She didn’t reach for her pushed-off sleeve. Steadily, without shame, she returned his gaze. Her arm lifted, and snaked back up the velvet. The other one drifted down and stretched toward him. She turned her palm up, crooking her forefinger.
Yes. He let go the bookshelf and stepped out into full view. And she did avail herself of the full view: her eyes raked down his form and went wide when they got below the waist. Don’t flatter yourself. She worked in a pleasure house. She’ll have seen all sizes. Whose intrusive voice was that? Ah. His own. That was certainly odd. No matter. Things were looking promising. He could straighten out the odd bits later.
He stood still a moment, to let her finish her perusal, and when her eyes came again to his face, he went to her. Shadow to moonlight, and they play exquisitely as shadow and moonlight always did. A sound… a bird? In this house in the middle of the night? No, that would be… he’d left a window open before he … for morning breezes and so he wouldn’t sleep too … No. No. To complete any of those thoughts would bring some dire result; he couldn’t quite lay his hands on it, but no, even that, to identify the dire result, might bring it about.
Urgency flared up in him as he took her face in his palms. A delicate rose-petal scent wafted from her, just as it had done whenever he got near enough in that dark hallway. Now he’d find out whether she tasted of roses too. He bent his head quickly, and brought his mouth to hers. But she was gone. His hands sat suspended in the air where her face had been. Despair clenched his innards in its fist–he’d been so close–and suddenly he felt a touch on his coat sleeve.
She’d got behind him somehow. Slipped away like quicksilver, but no matter, because here she was turning him, backing him up against the velvet where she’d been, and then … and then … she stared at him with her falcon ferocity, and sank to her knees. Yes. Oh, yes. ‘Hurry.’ His unaccountably clumsy fingers stumbled over his buttons. ‘It’s a dream, you see, and we have to finish before I … ‘
But no, that had been a mistake, to say so out loud. Already the velvet was feeling like linens at his back, and the midnight darkness was beginning to lift. ‘Hurry, please.’ Though please, he already knew, had no affect on her. ‘If you could at least get–‘ No, she was wavering just as Roanoke had done, even as he moved frantically from one button to the next. She leaned toward him, slowly, her lips parting, but he could hear traffic from the street below.
Horses. Someone shouting. Confound his open window. He finally got himself free of his breeches and felt a single faint, dissolving touch from her lips …and it wasn’t enough. He came awake, hard and ravenous and alone in his bed.
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Lydia waited on a bench in the entry hall, wrapped in her cloak, until the creaking wheels and clopping hooves of some conveyance drew to a stop outside. She jumped up and pulled the door open. Mr. Blackshear – Will – was already out of the hackney and halfway up the steps, his face lit with a smile that would have exactly mirrored her own, had she the lopsided quality and the irregularity between the front teeth.
He cut a rather Byronic figure in his carelessly draped greatcoat, with his cheeks unshaven and one of those faddish handkerchiefs in place of a cravat. The very picture of a man poised to ruin himself in romantic fashion, a pigeon ripe for the plucking, which of course was the role they’d agreed he would play.
‘Come in.’ She stepped back. ‘I’m ready. Just let me fetch my reticule.’ In fact she’d left it on the hallway table and had only to turn away, swipe it up, and turn back. But in that interval his countenance underwent a change. She faced him again to find his smile gone, his gaze pitched to the bottom of her cloak, his attention keen as a bird-dog’s.
‘I’ve never seen this gown,’ he said, and his eyes rebounded to hers with an unvoiced question. ‘Ah, yes. Well, you’d better have a look now so it won’t distract you at some critical moment.’ Often enough she’d spoken flippantly of this gown and its powers, but her insouciance now rang false in her own ears. When she caught her cloak’s edges and swung them apart, she found she must look elsewhere than at his face.
Like him, she had a role to play: courtesan trolling for a moneyed protector. He knew that. He wouldn’t be shocked to find her wearing something a bit brazen. Still her nerves prickled along the cut edges of her too-short chemise, and the knots of her garters felt conspicuous as a man’s ill-timed erection. Well, he’d seen it. Now they could go.
She shrugged to flip the edges of her cloak to, and – ‘Wait.’ His voice came out half strangled and his hand shot across to stop her covering herself. ‘What is it?’ But she could imagine. You can’t possibly go out in that. Do you have any idea what sort of men frequent these places? At least put a petticoat on.
‘Nothing. Just… wait.” She let herself look at him. He didn’t notice. His hand still gripped her right wrist, holding that side of the cloak away, and his gaze ran over and over her gown as though he would never see it again and must fix the sight in his memory. She heard him draw a breath through his teeth. A sizzle ran from the nape of her neck right up over her scalp, and some base part of her brain scrambled to life. Take him upstairs. The hells can wait. You’ll never have a better chance.
That base part could say whatever it liked. What would her maid think of her, after all that talk of respectability, and Mr. Blackshear’s propriety? What would she think of herself, throwing off this worked-for, planned-for expedition to get a bit of what any man could give her? This man alone had put his trust in her abilities, his fortunes in her hands. She knew better than to misprize that.
‘Well, then.’ He let her cloak fall and took a step back. His voice wasn’t quite steady and his smile, when he raised his eyes to hers, seemed something he must sustain by force of will. ‘I presume that’s the gown a gentleman ought to like?’
‘It seemed appropriate for the occasion.’ ‘Exceedingly so. I think I just forgot my own name.’ His smile came naturally then, an easy admission of his own fallibility, an assurance that their partnership could absorb and transcend a scandalous gown and the animal response it inspired. He half-turned and crooked an elbow to her. ‘Ready to bring Oldfield’s to its knees?’ And indeed she’d never been readier for anything in her life.”
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I hope you took the time to read these special excerpts and I wish you’d let me know what you think of them. I have had the privilege to read both ARC’s and have reviewed a Lady and a Gentleman for Romance Reader At Heart website (clicking on the names will get you there) so please check it out. BUT, don’t take just my word for it! Check out some of the buzz around the blogosphere … Dear Author; Kay’s Blog; Rakehell; Happy Ever After/USA Today are just a few out there that are raving about Cecilia Grant and her impressive writing. I sure count her as one of the best discoveries of 2011, and can’t wait to find out what the future holds for her. Welcome to my Keeper Shelf, Ms. Grant. I have no doubt you’ll be there for some time to come.