This month’s “assignment” was to read a new-to-me author. I’ve had A Lady Awakened by Cecilia Grant on my TBR list since before it was published (after rave ARC reviews) and I grabbed a print copy the last time I was at the used bookstore.
I know Cecilia Grant is a new-to-everyone author, after all she’s only published two books, but she is new to me and I really wanted to read this book. So I did. 🙂
First, the blurb…
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?
For starters, the premise of this book is awesome. I’m fairly certain this is the first time I’ve ever read a heroine propositioning a man to get her pregnant. To take her virginity? Sure, read that. To teach her how to be a good lover so she’ll please her (arranged marriage) husband? Yep, read that one too. But this was a new troupe to me. And it worked. Like, whoa.
If you ever thought dairy farming and other agricultural matters were dry as dust and nowhere near sexy, then you obviously haven’t read this book. Ms. Grant makes talking and reading about farming sexy. Like, fan-my-face-gee-is-it-hot-in-here-to-you hot. Weird, right? Again, it works.
It works because the book starts out with non-sexy sexxytimes, progresses to more non-sexy sexxytimes which is followed by lots of talk of farming and improving the lives of tenant farmers that allows the hero to really grow up and come into his own, and then (THEN!) we get some super hot sexxytimes. Which is promptly followed by a big misunderstanding, some heartfelt professions of love, and a happy ever after. It’s a romance novel; it’s kind of hard to not know that’s coming.
But in between the awkward proposition (and the even more awkward sexual encounters) and the happy ever after, is some of the best character building I’ve ever read. Both of these characters grow and change so much because of each other and with each other; and because Ms. Grant does a good job of showing, not telling, you really feel their emotion and the sexual tension that flies when they talk about roof thatching.
A lot of times when you read a book or an author that’s been hyped a lot, you end up disappointed. I am extremely pleased to say that this book didn’t disappoint me in the least. In fact, it ended up on my (very exclusive) keeper shelf and I’m looking forward to other books by this author.