Breathless

Breathless

by Celeste Bradley, Susan Donovan

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250008060
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 06/12/2018
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 812,256
Product dimensions: 5.39(w) x 8.27(h) x 1.07(d)

About the Author

CELESTE BRADLEY is the New York Times bestselling author of the Runaway Brides, Heiress Brides, Liar’s Club, and Royal Four series. Her novel Fallen was nominated for a RITA in 2002. “When you are overendowed with imagination and underendowed with punctuality, become a writer.” Years of dreaming on the job paid off when Celeste Bradley quit the mainstream in 1999 and started writing historical romance. “Handsome heroes beat out cranky customers every time!” Bradley lives in New Mexico with her family, her desert garden and so many pets the house sometimes feels like an ark.

SUSAN DONOVAN’s novels have won accolades for being witty, sexy, and entertaining. A former newspaper reporter with journalism degrees from Northwestern University, Susan is a New York Times and USA Today bestseller whose novels have been translated into dozens of languages. Susan is a two-time RITA Award finalist, and her novel Take a Chance on Me was named Best Contemporary Romance of 2003 by RT Book Reviews Magazine. She lives in New Mexico with her family and assorted dogs.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

Paris

Door hinges groaned with age and disuse as Fitch Wilder got his first peek of history.

"Un capsule temporal ..." His employer had whispered those words only moments before, as they'd climbed the narrow stairs of the vintage Paris apartment building and waited for the flat's door to be unlocked. Yet even as Fitch's eyes adjusted to the murky light, he could tell these rooms were more than a time capsule — he was about to step into a fine art wormhole.

"Oh, mon Dieu!" Jean-Louis Rasmussen gestured madly, pointing as if Fitch couldn't see the eerie sight for himself — a richly appointed tomb, still as death, undisturbed for seventy-five years.

Until right at that instant.

The indirect light of the hallway began to illuminate the details. Fitch saw heavy velvet drapes and Persian carpets, a gilt bronze writing desk, ornately carved tables covered in figurines, clocks, and blown glass. Paintings in gilded frames were stacked six-deep against Louis XV chairs. Sculptures hid in shadowy corners. Vases lined the fireplace mantel like soldiers from mismatched armies. It looked as if someone had planned a seriously badass rummage sale and then decided against it.

Perhaps not so far from the truth.

As he had recently learned, a young woman inherited this apartment from her grandmother on June 11, 1940. Talk about rotten timing. The very next day, Paris braced itself for the Nazi invasion, and the young mademoiselle locked down her grandmother's residence in the ninth arrondissement and fled to the south of France, never to return. Through the following decades, the woman's solicitor paid the taxes and insurance on the apartment until his client passed away just weeks ago at the age of ninety-three. In her will, the never-married woman carried out the wishes of her long-gone grandmother and bequeathed the apartment's contents to a variety of foundations, universities, and museums.

That was where Fitch came in. One of his occasional employers, the private Musee de Michel-Blanc, was among the beneficiaries, and he'd been hired to advise them during acquisition. In addition to tracing the provenance and rightful ownership of each work, Fitch would also oversee laboratory testing to verify age and authorship. He was the museum's insurance policy against the worst offense within the world of art: display of a forgery or a stolen work.

"Allez! What are you waiting for?" Jean-Louis jabbed his bony fingers into Fitch's side, nudging him onward.

Pressing a firm hand on the curator's shoulder, Fitch turned his attention to the attorney who had unlocked the door. "May we proceed, monsieur?"

The lawyer gestured listlessly, as if opening a crypt was just another day at the office. "Apres vous."

Jean-Louis shoved past Fitch and into the apartment. "We are the first!" Fitch stepped inside, resting the heel of his cowboy boot on the decades-dusted parquet floor. He wanted to savor the moment, since this was the kind of once-in-a-lifetime treasure hunt every art investigator dreamed of. More than that, he wanted to honor it. Fitch knew he was about to take a breath of history itself.

And he wondered ... whose lungs last pulled oxygen from the air of these rooms? Whose fingertips had last brushed across these chairs or drawn closed the draperies? He'd been told that the solicitors had never entered the apartment, as requested in the will, and it was unknown whether the granddaughter ever had a chance to examine her inheritance before she escaped the city. All things considered, Fitch knew it was possible that the grandmother — a woman born during Napoleon III's reign — had been the last human being to walk these floors.

Astounding.

Fitch drew in the stale air, and blew it out.

With an excited outburst of French, Jean-Louis flung open the drapes. And just like that, a beam of morning light split the dim room, illuminating every corner. Millions of dust particles twirled in the sudden air current.

In his agitated state, the curator stumbled, then gasped in horror. Fitch tried not to laugh, but the sight of Jean-Louis cowering under a seven-foot-tall taxidermied ostrich wasn't an everyday occurrence.

Fitch tossed his employer a pair of white cotton gloves, then shoved his own hands into an identical set. "Let's keep moving. We don't have much time."

A random lottery had given the Michel-Blanc first access to the apartment. Like each of the sixteen beneficiaries, they were allotted four hours to locate the items bequeathed to them, conclusively match each item to the inventory within the grandmother's original 1940 will, crate the works, and exit the premises.

Fitch knew why Jean-Louis was so twitchy. Among the items earmarked for the little museum was a signed Rembrandt in black and red chalk, dated 1631, and given the decidedly generic title of "Mother and Child." From the moment Fitch arrived at baggage claim at de Gaulle yesterday, Jean-Louis had spoken of little else, going on about how the drawing would be a major coup for the small museum. He was right, of course, but only if he found it to be authentic, and Fitch knew signed-and-dated Rembrandts from that period were exceedingly rare. He told his employer to keep the celebratory champagne corked until he'd finished with the Xrays.

Though Fitch was looking forward to examining the Rembrandt, he was more intrigued by the less conspicuous items on the list, and, though he'd kept the thought to himself, he had a hunch one of the institutions might walk away from this Paris flat with an explosive find. Fate had smiled on this private collection. The closed-up apartment had served as a kind of a safe house during the Third Reich's invasion of Paris, allowing the artworks to slip beneath the notice of Nazi raiders determined to plunder the city's cultural treasures.

Only God knew what could be in this place.

Fitch set up his camera and reminded Jean-Louis not to move anything until he had documented its location.

"Oui, Oui!" Jean-Louis headed into the dining room. He threw open those drapes as well, flooding the area with sunlight and exposing an even larger jumble of tapestries, oil paintings, figurines, and what looked like a carved frieze from the Middle Ages.

Jean-Louis sent his hands fluttering over his head. "Do you have your copy of the list?" Fitch nodded, snatching it from his jacket pocket and holding it up for his employer's reassurance.

Within the first hour, Fitch found three of their items: a Fabergé egg dated 1902, a still life of lilacs in crystal signed with Manet's telltale scrawl, and a Guangzhou period vase much like one he'd seen auctioned off for a quarter-million dollars the year prior. As Fitch was matching the vase to the solicitor's inventory, his employer began screaming in French that he'd found the Rembrandt. He could barely compose himself enough to hand the drawing to the solicitor for verification.

"It is the real thing, oui?" Jean-Louis looked up at Fitch with a pleading expression. Since the poor man was overwrought, Fitch didn't mention that he'd already asked that question six times in as many minutes.

"Like I said, no red flags are jumping out at me. Everything looks right — the correct chalk pigment for the date, the appropriate type of laid paper, and an authentic-looking mark — but I won't be sure until I've done research and run some tests. If I could've phoned in this job from Santa Fe, I would have. You know that, right?"

The curator nodded, wiping tears from his eyes. He patted Fitch on the arm. "Bien sur. You are the best and I will be patient."

Once the crating process had begun and Jean-Louis was overseeing a team of museum workers, Fitch wandered off to continue his search. According to the list, four items had yet to be located — a series of original French political cartoons from 1899 through 1901, a female nude oil on canvas of unknown age and origin, a Japanese kimono that had allegedly belonged to an eighteenth-century geisha, and a 1929 signed and inscribed first edition of Hemingway's AFarewell to Arms.

Ole Granny was probably one hell of an interesting dinner guest.

Fitch wandered into a breakfast nook off the vintage kitchen and winced at what he saw — a jumble of unframed canvases leaned against a window seat, a particularly unkind way to store paintings. Luckily, the apartment had been nearly airtight all these years, and the drapes had been drawn, which cut down on light damage, moisture, and dust accumulation, though Fitch knew unframed canvases were vulnerable to warping in the best of environments. He lowered himself to one knee for a closer look.

Carefully, Fitch slipped a gloved finger between two canvases, separating them. He began to divide each canvas from its neighbor, one after the next, making quick mental evaluations of each work. There were watery French country fields, seascapes, and studies of Paris street life through various decades. Though they were important and worth further study, Fitch was on the clock, and so far there had been no sign of any cartoons, kimonos, or mysterious female nudes.

The very last canvas was larger than all the others, perhaps forty-by-forty inches. It was draped with an old embroidered bedsheet, and when he gently pulled at the linen he found the painting was faced away. Its back was covered by a layer of coarse muslin, frayed and tearing along the tacked-down edges. Fitch leaned closer, frowning, his brain suddenly humming with alarm. One touch of the muslin and his heart skipped a beat.

Okay — this was nuts. He had only seen the back. He had to be fucking crazy to be thinking what he was thinking.

He set all the other canvases off to the side, stood to open the window's shutters, and returned to the floor, where he balanced on both knees. With the benefit of better light, Fitch confirmed that his sanity was intact — there were, in fact, similarities. Was it unlikely? Hell, yes. Was it impossible? Not in his line of work.

First, he took a few photos to document exactly where the canvas had been found and in what position. Then, with a gloved finger, he pushed back a corner of the ragged muslin and turned on the flashlight app from his phone. Peering underneath, he saw how the canvas was supported by strainers of ancient olivewood and held together mortise and tenon joints — an exact match to the others.

"Holy God," he whispered to no one. "You've got to be kidding me."

His hands trembled slightly as he turned the canvas to face him. It was upside down. He set it upright. The shock of what he saw sent him back on his heels, his breath coming fast. In the bottom right corner was the familiar mark of an L and an A done in a bold cursive hand.

Fitch grabbed the list and double-checked the wording ... "female nude oil on canvas of unknown age and origin." Of course it had been unknown back in 1940! The Siren Series hadn't been assembled as a collection of five paintings until after the war and even then ... well, hell, that was all that had ever been "known" about anything. Even today, the artist, muse, setting, and date were a mystery.

He shoved the printed list back into his pocket and tried to get his brain and his breath to slow down.

Fitch heard himself laugh out loud.

He couldn't deny it. Everything was there. This painting had the lively brushstroke, the familiar play of light and shadow, and the golden touch of sunshine on the model's warm skin. Fitch recognized the boudoir, too, with its wide windowsill framing the sea, the rugged stone walls, and the unvarnished oak of the simple bureau.

But it was the subject he knew best of all — her tumble of sun-streaked blond hair, her smoldering, powder-blue eyes, the sleek curve of her shoulder. And there was the fantail birthmark on the side of her right breast, exactly where it should be. That mermaid-shaped mark had inspired the only name by which this outrageously sensual muse had ever been known.

The Siren.

But Fitch had never seen her like this. No one had.

She was pregnant. The Siren leaned back on her hands at the edge of an unmade bed, as if the painter had caught her in the process of pushing herself to stand after a long and luxurious rest. Her full breasts and slightly rounded belly were gilded by the sun. Her lean legs stretched out before her as she gazed directly into the soul of the artist.

Any shred of doubt Fitch might have been harboring was gone. The Siren's bold eye contact with the painter — and the intense sexual connection it revealed — was what set these paintings apart from nearly everything else in the art world. That heated connection was the trademark of this unknown painter's work. And of his muse.

Fitch didn't call for Jean-Louis right away, but instead allowed himself a few moments of quiet study. This painting was as technically brilliant as the other five, to be sure. The colors were as luminous and rich. The wash of light and hint of movement were the same. And yet ... this painting was more than the others. The sum of all its elements had created something tangibly alive. It was as if the woman's gaze had burned through the artist himself, onto the canvas, and through time to reach Fitch.

The Siren wasn't daring him, exactly. It was more of an invitation.

I have a story to tell. Are you prepared to listen?

The sound of approaching footsteps jolted Fitch from his trance.

"Where are you? We need to —"

The curator stopped behind him. "Qu'estece? No! It cannot be! Is this —?"

"Without question, my friend."

"But ..." He leaned over Fitch's shoulder and pointed at the canvas. "She is with child here. This is ... this has never been seen before!"

Fitch nodded.

His instincts had always told him there were more than just the five paintings — and he'd been right. So if this canvas had been hiding for seventy years in an abandoned Paris apartment, how many more were hidden away and forgotten? And where on earth could they be?

"We've just found the sixth in The Siren Series." Fitch turned and smiled up at his employer. "And it is now the property of the Michel-Blanc. That is, unless or until —"

"Mon Dieu!" Jean-Louis slapped a hand over his mouth. His eyes flashed in comprehension as he did the math in his head. Like everyone else in the art world, he knew this single oil painting could be worth more than several small Rembrandts, simply because of one man's obsession. Billionaire London art collector H. Winston Guilford was unabashedly fixated on The Siren, and had spent the last twenty years acquiring all five paintings in the series. He would surely offer an obscene amount of money to get his hands on the sixth.

From the twinkle in his employer's eye, Fitch suspected the Michel-Blanc would be only too happy to enable Guilford's addiction.

Fitch popped to his feet, the thrill of the chase already rushing through his veins, a plan already forming in his mind. He would run tests on this painting while it was still the property of the Michel-Blanc. And if he got extremely lucky, he would find something he could use as leverage with Guilford, something that might convince that crusty old bastard to let him take the rest of the series into the lab — and perhaps even to public display.

And after that ...? As always, he would wait and see where the hunt took him.

Fitch carried the painting to the solicitor, making a mental note to cancel his return flight to the States. It could be a while before his boots once again roamed the blue-skied streets of Santa Fe.

CHAPTER 2

Cambridge, Massachusetts, Three Months Later

Professor of Sociology Dr. Brenna Anderson clicked the remote control, bringing the next image to the huge screen at the front of the lecture hall.

"Erotic art not only reflects contemporary society's sexual norms, it can actually expedite a culture's acceptance of less typical facets of human sexuality."

A student in the third row raised his hand.

"Yes?"

"What about bondage and sadomasochism? You know, BDSM?"

A few snickers and snorts echoed through the large Harvard lecture hall. And to think ... Brenna had almost forgotten she was teaching an undergraduate introductory course. She smiled at Justin Langley, well aware that the young man had been primarily seeking laughs this semester, not an understanding of the history of eroticism in art.

"Hmm." She tapped her lips with her index finger in mock contemplation. "I believe I may have heard of this — what did you call it, Mr. Langley? BD of the SM?"

Full-out laughter rang through the main floor and balcony. Justin became red-faced as he shifted in his seat.

Brenna returned to the center of the stage, her heels clacking on the highly polished wood. She smoothed down the seams of her wool and cashmere pencil skirt before she continued, "Mr. Langley, I would think that after sitting in this classroom for fourteen weeks you might have some understanding of how atypical sexual behaviors have been depicted in art through the ages. However, to be on the safe side, would anyone care to enlighten Mr. Langley?"

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "Breathless"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Celeste Bradley and Susan Donovan.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Title Page,
Copyright Notice,
Epigraph,
The Past,
The Present,
The Past,
The Present,
The Past,
The Present,
The Past,
The Present,
The Past,
The Present,
The Past,
The Present,
The Past,
The Present,
The Past,
Epilogue,
About the Authors,
Copyright,

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Breathless 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
sportochick More than 1 year ago
Stunned and emotional is how this book affected me. I was not expecting to be so emotional while reading it. It broke my heart and then healed it with hope. The main question it will leave in the reader mind is "Is it really possible to have such a great love as detailed in this book?". I am not even sure I can review this book to give you the fullness of its impact. The opening to the book is in the past with "the Swan." London's premiere courtesan. After the reader is given the context to the story it jumps forward to present day. For me the swan's story is heart breaking and tragic. The painter in the story who saves her is also tragic and the reader will come to love this man and realize that he made choices for the greater good which cost him everything. He suffered greatly from this and the authors writing about this time made me cry with such sorrow for him and his losses. I can't say any more about this without giving away part of the plot but let's say the ending to that part of the story still brings tears to my eyes. The story within the story involves Art Professor Brenna Anderson and art hunter, Fitch Wilder. Their relationship is fraught with dislike for each other and their utter disregard for the others professionalism. This made a great story as it is a bit like Indian Jones type feeling as they chased down clues and the other hidden paintings. What they find when they start working together changes both of them forever and as it unfolds it also deeply impacts the reader. This book is a memorable and impactful emotionally. Because of this I give it 5 STARS.
Splashesintobooks1 More than 1 year ago
Intriguing mix of historical and contemporary romance. This is two love stories set in two different times, connected by a painting – the sixth and previously unknown painting of a lady who has become know as the Siren. The stories of the two eras are told, sharing the present day search to identify the Siren and what actually happened to her. Starting in 1827 with the lady who calls herself “the Swan” being washed up on a rocky beach, the story of how she meets and connects with the Artist is emotively described. She has nothing, not even a name but he is a driven, tortured man and their time together was limited, it was beautiful and portrayed in his art work as she became his muse and his siren. Fitch Wilder has been employed to verify the works of art willed to museums and art galleries. He’s the person who discovers the sixth painting of the siren and this is different to the others as she’s obviously pregnant in it. For years he and art professor Brenna Anderson have been antagonistic but the quest to discover the Siren causes them to work together, helping them discover the Swan’s real history and more about themselves both individually and as a couple. With its mix of historical and contemporary romance, together with the added mystery to be solved, this is an engaging and enthralling story with great characters, an intertwining plot and plenty of surprises along the way! I requested and was gifted a copy of this novel via NetGalley. I chose to read it and this is my honest opinion after doing so.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hits every emotion. Really great read!
EileenAW More than 1 year ago
Breathless by Susan Donovan and Celeste Bradley is a great example of mixing historical fiction with contemporary fiction. This book actually contains two one set in the past, the other in the present. I loved how the hero and heroine are impacted by the events of the past as they are investigating and uncovering the story of the Swan, part of the series of paintings known as The Siren Series. Some of the scenes related to the Swan’s story were very emotional. The entwining of some actual events fictionalized in the story made for an interesting read. I really liked reading this story with all of its drama, suspense and intrigue. The story takes the reader on an adventure in both the past and present. I really liked the characters and that they were relatable. I really enjoyed reading this book and recommend this book to other readers. I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book.
gigiluvsbooks2 More than 1 year ago
A sensuous, delightful romantic women's fiction novel from New York Times bestselling authors Celeste Bradley and Susan Donovan! She was "the Swan." London's premiere courtesan. Men want to be with her. Women loathe her success and yet admire her beauty, her riches, her independence. But when the jealous wife of her lover moves to have the Swan banished from her home on the high seas, she winds up crashed against Spain's rocky coast with no shoes, no clothes-and no name. Taken in by a tortured, sensuous man known as The Artist, the Swan comes to know the woman she wants to be—her artist's siren. When Art Professor Brenna Anderson is in danger of losing her post at Harvard, the rule-following, prim professor is at a loss of how to salvage the shreds of her life. But when a new painting in the mysterious Siren collection is discovered in a dusty old house in France, Brenna does the unthinkable—hops on a plane to uncover the identity of the beautiful, enigmatic woman who is the subject of the paintings. There's just one hitch—the frustrating, irritating, bold and beautiful art hunter, Fitch Wilder, is also looking for the Siren. He's been a thorn in Brenna's professional side for years, but when their individual quests lead them to team up despite being enemies, a whole new sumptuous world of art and culture opens up for the two of them. And with it, they enter a realm of passion and love… Review: This is one sweeping romance. It spans centuries and continents, combining past and present couples and how their stories intertwine. I literally could not put this down, once I started reading it I devoured it in couple of hours. I could just sit here and rehash the whole story, but I truly do not want to give away plot points and the mystery of the Siren and who painted her. I think the story was laid out expertly and I could not tell this was written by two people. I loved both couples and their journeys as individuals and as couples. The switching between time periods was done seamlessly also. I loved that the story had me feeling so many things, and crap have a box of tissues ready, I cried like a baby in part of the book. The ending was a nice come full circle feel. My one question was there a book before this one featuring Brenna's friend Piper? They way it was written it seemed so, I will have to research it. Loved the story! 5Stars *I voluntarily read an advance reader copy of this book provided by the publisher.*
CathyGeha More than 1 year ago
Breathless by Celeste Bradley and Susan Donovan Treasure hunt, romance, historical & contemporary romances, mystery and intrigue all are part of this book. The authors have seamlessly woven the life story of one woman from the past into the present and made it pertinent and real by sending Fitch Wilder and Brenna Anderson on a quest to find out more about the Swan…or is it the Siren? I was gripped immediately by the beginning of the book and ALMOST decided to read only the portions of the book labeled PAST and skip over the PRESENT portions and pick them up later but am happy that I did not do so. Why? Because the story unfolds as it should with highs and lows that really do need to be read in order. I was not always “happy” with the Swan-Siren’s story but then neither was she. I am intrigued about what happened to her after her story ended (in the book) and wonder if perhaps Fitch and Brenna continued to pursue finding out more about her. Oh, one more thing…at a few points in the Swan’s narrative in first person I felt she told her story a bit as Fanny Hill told hers in the book with the same title. Did I enjoy this book? Definitely Would I read more books by these authors? Yes Do I recommend this book? Yes Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press Griffin for the ARC – This is my honest review. 5 Stars
CathyGeha More than 1 year ago
Breathless by Celeste Bradley and Susan Donovan Treasure hunt, romance, historical & contemporary romances, mystery and intrigue all are part of this book. The authors have seamlessly woven the life story of one woman from the past into the present and made it pertinent and real by sending Fitch Wilder and Brenna Anderson on a quest to find out more about the Swan…or is it the Siren? I was gripped immediately by the beginning of the book and ALMOST decided to read only the portions of the book labeled PAST and skip over the PRESENT portions and pick them up later but am happy that I did not do so. Why? Because the story unfolds as it should with highs and lows that really do need to be read in order. I was not always “happy” with the Swan-Siren’s story but then neither was she. I am intrigued about what happened to her after her story ended (in the book) and wonder if perhaps Fitch and Brenna continued to pursue finding out more about her. Oh, one more thing…at a few points in the Swan’s narrative in first person I felt she told her story a bit as Fanny Hill told hers in the book with the same title. Did I enjoy this book? Definitely Would I read more books by these authors? Yes Do I recommend this book? Yes Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press Griffin for the ARC – This is my honest review. 5 Stars
Crystal61 More than 1 year ago
This was a fun read, a mixing of past and present with a link between the two. Brenna is drawn to the history of "the Swan", a courtesan. Fitch is drawn to "the Siren" paintings. He finds them for his client. The two bump heads but find love while figure the history out. I loved the mingling of past and present. I tried to guess where the story was going but was not correct. Despite that, I enjoyed this story. I received a copy of this story through Netgalley, and this is my unsolicited review.
Pinky1979 Reviews More than 1 year ago
Celeste Bradley and Susan Donovan are both masters in their respective romance genres and I have greatly enjoyed their work. I had never imagined that they would get together to create such a masterpiece. A romance so unique that I can easily say that it is one of the best romances that I have read this year and I will not be forgetting it any time soon. Whether you love regency romance or contemporary romance or even a little mystery in your romance than this is definitely the book for you! “The Swan” was the most notorious courtesan of her time. With her dazzling beauty and wit she had every man in the ton after her and all the women loathing her. But her whole life takes an unexpected turn when she is kidnapped and wakes up to find herself in a ship. With nothing but her charms and wit to help her, she is able to survive, but when mutiny breaks in the ship, she finds herself in a boat in the middle of a storm and is swept away to the Catalan shores of Spain. What ensues is one of the most sensual and passionate love stories that you will ever read. The Swan becomes the muse of an artist and the subject of a series of paintings known as the Siren series. A collection that has captivated all who see it. Harvard Professor Brenna Anderson is on the brink of losing her teaching position. She needs a break from the university and to prove to them her academic value. So when a new painting belonging to the Siren collection is discovered she believes that she can shed light to the mystery behind the sensual Siren. Of course the last person she expected to run into was Fitch Wilder, a man who is just as invested in the collection. A man who Brenna detests and doesn’t trust. A man that she now has to work with in order to find not only the missing paintings of the collection, but also to discover the story behind the series. The fine line between love and hate gets blurrier by the second and Brenna soon finds herself in the sultry streets of Barcelona with a man that she can’t deny her attraction to. A man unlike any she has met. A man who lives life to the fullest, enjoying everything that it has to offer. A beautiful story with two women who are separated by centuries and continents and yet share a very similar fate. A story that will leave you literally breathless!!!! Loved every single second of it!!! Thank you Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
DebDiem More than 1 year ago
Breathless by Celeste Bradley and Susan Donovan is a work of art. Team Bradley/Donovan has delivered a well-written book that intertwines two separate stories from two different time periods into one amazing book. Fitch and Brenna are both investigating and looking for more paintings from The Siren Series. Their story is loaded with drama, humor and spice. It took me a couple chapters but once I got into this awesome book, I couldn't put it down. I look forward to reading more from Celeste Bradley and Susan Donovan in the future. This is a complete book, not a cliff-hanger. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book that I received from NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
astroyic More than 1 year ago
A Phenomenal Masterpiece! I was captivated by this well written story that swept we away, blending the past with the present and took the reader across continents in a unforgettable romantic saga. This is the first time I have read anything by these authors, and I loved every moment, while reading this beautiful story. I can’t wait to read more by this dynamic, author, duo of Celeste Bradley and Susan Donovan. The beauty and the emotions that fill this story were beautifully, staggering. It was filled with sweet longing, intrigue, sensuality, crackling electricity, and a gamut of emotions, in two beautiful love stories, that had a blistering blaze of true love and passion, creating a timeless tribute to love and art. My heart and soul soared, as I lost myself in this fantastic story. I have never read a story better than this one. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
carvanz More than 1 year ago
This is a story within a story. Brenna and Fitch are professional rivals but now they have come together to find the history of the woman in the famous Siren Series. As a result, they hope to find any remaining portraits of the Siren. This couple were instantly attracted to each other but Brenna is holding a grudge about some of the actions Fitch has taken in the past. With a history of untrustworthy men, she’s not open to a relationship with him. Fitch is drawn to her in every way and would love to see her let go of her professor persona and live free. Inside Brenna and Fitch’s story is the story of the Swan, her expulsion from Europe and her rescue by her Artist. As this couple track the Swan’s history they find themselves growing closer together, sometimes their emotions mirroring that of the woman that they are hunting. I must confess that I enjoyed the Swan’s love story more so than Fitch and Brenna’s. The Swan’s background is steep in emotion. The chemistry between her and her artist palpable. Their pasts so very heart wrenching and their love the perfect balm to heal them both. This is a relatively fast paced read, but I must confess to skimming some due to a lot of travel guide-ish commentary. This is a me issue as I’m not a fan of in-depth descriptions of locales or historical sites. There is a heavy emphasis on art that I did enjoy as it dealt mainly with the issue this couple were working on. Secondary characters hold their own, never taking over the story but pushing it along onto the path each of the main characters needed to get to their happy ending. Overall, this was a very pleasant read and it made me curious about any previous books that might form a series.
Noire More than 1 year ago
I received a copy of this book from NetGalley to read in exchange for a fair review. Breathless is the second book Celeste Bradley and Susan Donovan have written together. The first book Unbound is referred to several times in this book and while each can be read as a stand alone I think they work well together and both are very enjoyable reads. There are two love stories in this book one taking place towards the end of the Georgian period in England and Catalonia and one in the present day. The book opens with a story that has fascinated me in real life, a Paris apartment abandoned during World War 2 is opened for the first time and it is a bit like Aladdin’s cave full of treasures. The mystery surrounding one of the paintings found in the apartment has Art Hunter Fitch Wilder and Art Professor Brenna Anderson bumping heads as they both attempt to solve the mystery of the painting. The story in the past is that of the subject of the painting and its artist. Both stories are engaging with well written characters. I very much enjoyed reading this book and do recommend both this one and Unbound. Mildly steamy, Publishing Date June 12, 2018, #Breathless #NetGalley
Candace-LoveyDoveyBooks More than 1 year ago
Celeste Bradley and Susan Donovan collaborate to bring readers an enchanting tale. The mystery behind the Siren series, a collection of captivating paintings, is unraveled as art hunter Fitch Wilder and sociology professor Brenna Anderson search for the link between the woman in the paintings and a London courtesan known as the Swan. This story will definitely sweep you into a world where past and present collide in the most wonderful way. I haven't had the opportunity to read many stories that blend historical and contemporary fiction together, so I was eager for Breathless. I admit it took me a few chapters to get hooked, but once Brenna and Fitch started working together to get the scoop on the Swan I couldn't put it down. I was just as captivated and curious of her story as they were. The switch between the past and present throughout the story balanced perfectly and makes it so easy to follow especially as Brenna and Fitch find clues and old letters that lead them closer to the Swan's true identity. There's no unexplainable phenomenon where characters are thrust through time and space, but readers will be transported around the world and centuries in the past nonetheless. What I appreciate most about this story is that it's like reading two romances in one! The characters are not solely focused on digging into the past for the sake of academic success or financial gain, but they truly want to breathe life into someone's incredible story. Breathless is a well-rounded read that appeals to readers who, like myself, love both historical and contemporary romances and even to those who prefer one genre over the other. I highly recommend this aptly named story that will indeed leave you breathless! *ARC provided in consideration for review*
Anonymous More than 1 year ago