Title: A Lady Awakened (Blackshear Family #1)
Author(s): Cecilia Grant
Genre: Romance - Historical
Mass Market Paperback:346 pages
Publisher: Bantam (December 27, 2011)
This was one of those rare books that makes me the tenacious kind of reader I am. What I mean by that is I am a reader that rarely ever DNF's a book. There may be occasions where my mood changes and I put it down and don't pick it up again for a month but I almost never leave a book unfinished. One reason is I'm pretty good at determining and choosing books I'll like, so it isn't often I pick up something that I totally hate. The other reason is there are books like this one. Books where I'm thinking "aw man, I thought I was going to like this but it's so not working for me". For instance, I had given this 3 stars already. Then suddenly this book took a turn.... for awesome!
The basic premise is like the summary says: Martha, a young widow plots to save herself and her female servants from dire circumstances by engaging in an affair with her rakish neighbor Theophilus to conceive an heir.
But for me the beginning was dragging and mostly I was having a hard time with the absence of any romance or true intimacy. The characters don't flirt or even have any fire between them because, after all, their relations are a business deal. And because of this the sex is terrible and made me just wince from all the awkwardness and obvious lack of pleasure. And I get it; I know it was totally because of the situation but geez it was hard going!
Without that connection between them (for at least the first 100 pages if not more) and cringing at how awful it must be to just have such mechanical sex I was almost about to DNF this one. However the author does a good job of showing the main character's personalities outside of each other and we get to know them in a way that builds just enough to hold on.
Actually, the slow story/character building and humor sort of reminded me of Jane Austen-ish/Elizabeth Gaskell type stuff. The kind where overall it's a romance you're reading but there's all this crappy stuff that happens too, and not a lot of sexy stuff that modern readers are used to in historical novels from this century. The only difference is we know going into those older books to somewhat expect that, and also this book IS modern so it has sex scenes, lol. Once I got into this book I began loving it as I got to know Theo and laughing at some of the hilarious remarks he'd make. He has some really funny scenes with a pig on the farm, and I started looking forward to those scenes with the pig lol! I sort of liked Martha right away and her private conversations with her maid and cleric helped show who she was. Once Martha and Theo started really talking and opening up I liked it more of course.
So it starts slower than most historical romances but it's written so well and comes together in a way that makes it pay off:)
Thanks to LibraryThing Early Reviewers program and Random House for the review copy.