A Lady Awakened

A Lady Awakened

by Cecilia Grant

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780553593839
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 12/27/2011
Edition description: Original
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 761,044
Product dimensions: 4.18(w) x 6.90(h) x 0.98(d)

About the Author

Cecilia Grant always knew she’d do something with that English degree. After waiting tables, composing software help files, and answering the carpool-lane-violators hotline, she’s delighted to be writing stories. Cecilia makes her home in the Pacific Northwest with her fellow-writer husband, two bookish children, and unliterary cat and dog.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Not once in ten months of marriage had she wished for her husband’s demise. Nor would she be glad of the occurrence even for a moment. Even for this moment. To do so would ill become her.

Martha sat straighter in her chair, smoothing her black skirts. One’s conduct might owe more to principle than to sentiment at times, admittedly. But principle could be relied upon. Principle steadied a person; braced her up through those same occasions, in fact, where sentiment made only a sluggish kind of mire to sink into.

She finished with her skirts and folded her hands on the tabletop. “Well,” she said into the silence of her sunlit parlor. “This is all legally sound, I don’t doubt.”

Mr. Keene gave a little bow from his place at the table’s foot, affording her a glimpse of the bald spot atop his head. He did not meet her eyes and had not done so since beginning to read. A faint sifting sound came from the papers before him, as his hands lined up the corners and made other adjustments of no particular purpose. Really, he ought to stop that.

Across the table her brother sat tight-­lipped, his jaw working as if to swallow something of fearsome dimension. His temper, that would be. To his credit, he always did try.

“Speak, Andrew.” She knew well enough what he would have to say. “You’re liable to do yourself some injury otherwise.”

“I’d have done injury to Russell if I’d known what he was about. A thousand pounds!” He spat out the sum like a mouthful of spoiled porridge. “One thousand, from what began as ten! What kind of man would speculate with his wife’s settlement?”

A man half lost in drink apparently would. To take just one example. She drew a fortifying breath. “It’s not as though I’ll be penniless. I’ll have my dower.”

“No dower house, though, and but a tenth of what you brought into the marriage. I’m sure I’d like to know his reasoning.” This, rather pointedly, to Mr. Keene.

“I wouldn’t have encouraged the investment myself,” came the solicitor’s reedy voice as he went on shuffling papers. “But Mr. Russell had a taste for those things. His will with the first Mrs. Russell was similar: her portion invested in private securities, and all the rest arranged in hopes of an heir.” An heir, of course. If there was any man on earth more eager to get an heir than her husband had been, she should like to see him.

Well, no. In fact she wouldn’t care to see that man at all. She unlaced her hands and touched her fingertips to the tablecloth. Very pretty, this cloth. Linen, from Belgium, and no longer hers.

“I wish I’d had my own solicitors see to your marriage agreement. I would have had nothing to do with this trust.” More bad porridge. “Father’s people were worse than useless. I ought to have done it myself.”

“How could you have managed?” One had neither time nor patience for this sort of nonsense. I wish I’d done this; I would have done that; I ought to have done some other thing. Blind alleys, those were, leading straight to the swamp of sentiment and nowhere else. “You had your hands full settling Father’s estate. Those were difficult days for us all. What’s done is done. We needn’t say any more about it.”

Andrew held his tongue, then, but his eyes—­large, liquid, dark as day-­old coffee—­glowed with strong opinions. She angled her head politely away. So indecorous, to let the mood of any moment run rampant across one’s face. So undisciplined. For all that she had those same eyes, she’d long since schooled them into sphinxlike calm. It really wasn’t hard.

“So when is she to be turned out of her home?” he said upon reaching the limits of forbearance. “How soon will this other Mr. Russell expect to take possession? Of course you will come to stay with me and Lucy,” he added to her without waiting for the solicitor’s reply. “When we go to the country you may even have your old room.”

And live as a dependent child again, for all that she was one and twenty. A burden to him and his wife. Something stirred in the pit of her stomach: tiny fragments of mutiny, chasing about as pointlessly as rubbish in a windstorm.

Mr. Keene inclined his head so as to show her the bald spot again. “In these cases, we generally don’t proceed until the widow assures us there is no possibility of a son.”

Well, there wasn’t. Her body had resolved that some three days since, and brought her the news in its usual fashion. For all of Mr. Russell’s most vigorous efforts, on her and presumably on his first wife, no child had ever resulted. Now no child ever would.

Was she expected to say so on the spot? Mutiny stilled her tongue. If she left the matter in some doubt, she could get a few more weeks here. Maybe as much as a month.

Of course if she were truly mutinous . . . well, one heard tales of what desperate childless widows occasionally did. Lurid tales, difficult to credit. What woman could ever be so desperate? Probably it was all some myth got up and passed about by wishful men.

She lifted her chin. “I will send you word when I know that question to be resolved.” She could see to the servants, at least. Mr. and Mrs. James Russell would bring servants of their own, making some of the Seton Park staff redundant. She would take what time she needed to get them placed out.

Andrew fidgeted silently for the several minutes Mr. Keene took to gather up his papers and make polite remarks, and when the solicitor was finally shown out, her brother quitted his chair with vehemence. “For the love of God, sister, will you never speak up for yourself?” He strode away to the table’s other end. “It’s not right, how you’ve been served in all this. Why must I be the only one with the fortitude to say so?”

A familiar coolness blossomed in the middle of her chest and seeped outward. “I see no question of fortitude.” She measured out her syllables, and folded her hands atop the table again. “I could speak of injustice, I suppose, and indulge myself with some show of outrage, but none of that would change the facts of my current situation, would it?” Her voice grew flatter and flatter, like pastry dough under a most adamant rolling pin.

“Not now, it wouldn’t.” He flung out his hand in an impatient gesture. “But this whole thing might have been averted. For the life of me I’ll never understand why you married the man. Why any young girl would marry a widower twice her age when she—­”

“He was nine and thirty. Hardly in his dotage. And no, you’re not likely ever to understand.” What eldest son could? He would never be faced with the prospect of a parasitic existence. He would never come to make those reckonings in which girlish fancy had no place. He would only pity her, provokingly, and wonder at her wrongheaded choice.

As though a love match were the only viable kind of marriage! As though humanity had not prospered for countless generations through unions of other kinds; through respectable alliances between people who happened to prize other things above unbridled feeling!

Her hands had come unfolded and two fingers were tracing over and over a bit of openwork in the tablecloth. She stilled them. Laced the fingers firmly again. Sat silent.

Abruptly her brother heaved a sigh. “I’m sorry, Martha.” She could hear the change in his voice, though she kept her eyes on the tablecloth.

He came round to stand behind her chair. One hand settled on her shoulder. She lifted her chin and looked hard at the wall, where peonies marched in a cheerful red-­and-­white pattern.

“I’m sorry if I offend you.” He was all uncertainty now, casting about for the right way to comfort so perverse a little sister. “Sorry you’ve had this misfortune, and sorry I wasn’t more help to you. But I’ll help you now, if you’ll let me. You’ll have a good home with me and Lucy.”

The wallpaper’s peonies shimmered for a moment, and threatened to swim. She might have been seven again, and he eighteen, that same hand on her shoulder as awkward as a turkey on a pigeon-­perch. They’d done this before, though that day they’d sat side by side on the stone wall where he’d finally found her, and the halting words of consolation had all to do with Heaven, and their mother’s soul.

I’m sorry, too. I wish I could want what you offer. I don’t know why I can’t. She swallowed, and kept the words down. “You were so kind to come,” she said. “You’ve been a great help indeed. These past few days should have been much more difficult had you not been here. I’ll write to you when I . . . I’ll write to you.” That was her one toe dipped in the wallows of sentiment, and quickly drawn out again.

He left for London. When she’d waved at his carriage all the way to where it turned from the drive onto the road, she dropped her hand and began to walk. Away from the house she went, south toward the swelling hills. The August sun showed no mercy to a woman in full mourning, particularly one who covered ground at her pace. So be it. She walked faster.

Soon she was ascending, feeling her stride shorten as she started up the face of the highest hill. Somewhere nearby she could hear the discourse of sheep, plaintive and petulant by turns. A dog barking as well, and a man’s voice giving terse commands. Round a fold in the hill she came upon them: one of her tenants training a new dog by guiding it round and round a clutch of three disgruntled sheep. Mr. Farris caught sight of her and removed his hat, and then she must stop to make conversation.

One could say only so many things in praise of a sheepdog. She said them all, while the tenant turned his hat round between thick fingers, nodding with a sage expression. “My Jane set me to ask, if I should see you,” he said once these pleasantries were concluded, “whether we may expect you to stay on here.”

“I’m afraid it’s unlikely.” More than unlikely. But her answer to the tenants must coincide with the answer she’d given Mr. Keene.

“There’s many will be sorry to hear.” He whistled, and the dog reversed direction, circling in its half-­crouched stance. “Jane says it’s to you we owe the new roof.”

“Well, chiefly to Mr. Russell’s generosity.” She bent her head and brushed a speck of something off her sleeve.

“The first Mrs. Russell never did take any interest in improvements. Nor did he, before you come along. So says Jane. She gives you the credit.”

“Her good opinion honors me.” She brushed another speck before raising her head. “She’s well, I hope? And the children?”

“Aye, everyone’s well.” He made a signal with his hand and the dog changed direction again. “Ben and Adam look forward to the school opening.”

“The school?” Delight surged up from her toes, flushing out the morning’s disappointment and boosting her voice into some very strange octave. “They weren’t on Mr. Atkins’s list, the last time I spoke to him. Will they be attending after all?”

“Just three days out of the five, to start. My youngest girl as well. Everett’s boys will help me out some, and my boys help him, and we’ll scrape by with the rest of it.”

“Do you mean the Everett children will go to school, too?” She wrestled her voice back down to a range that wouldn’t frighten the sheep.

“Three days out of five, aye. Maybe more in the winter.”

“I’m so glad to hear it. You do your children a great service by schooling them.”

“Well, they’ve got some cleverness.” He shrugged and turned his hat over again. “Pair that with education and a boy might choose his own course.”

She recognized one of the many lines of persuasion Mr. Atkins had rehearsed with her, and couldn’t suppress a smile. She’d done some good at Seton Park, even in her short stay. She’d been useful. When discontent threatened to overtake her, she would remember the new cottage roofs, and her part in realizing the curate’s long-­cherished scheme for a tenant school.

She’d like to remember her improvements to his scheme, as well. “What of your Laura, and Adelaide? They’ll be attending the class on Sundays, I hope?”

“I cannot say they will.” He set his head on an angle and rubbed the heel of his hand along his jaw. “We’ll need them at home all the more with their brothers going to school.”

“Of course.” She’d heard this same discouraging response more than once. “Still, it’s only an hour of instruction, once a week. Perhaps in time you’ll find you can spare them after all.”

“Perhaps. Just now I’ve got Laura learning more of this work.” Mr. Farris nodded toward the dog. “She takes to it, you know. Ordering creatures about.”

“Well, a gift for command is certainly to be admired.” Cultivated, as well. A girl of such talent deserved education, more education than the reading and ciphering with which feminine schooling began and ended. She would speak to Mr. Atkins tomorrow. A stronger case must be made to these parents, and with her time here cut short, he must be the one to make it.

What People are Saying About This

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"Tantalizingly sexy, heartwarming, and oh-so funny, this romance is unforgettable; a stunning debut." —-Library Journal Starred Review

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A Lady Awakened 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 82 reviews.
tmurrell2 More than 1 year ago
Martha has been recently widowed. She can't really say she's sorry, except the part about losing the estate if she doesn't have an heir. So she sets about to get one. I have no idea if the author intended it this way or not, but I laughed my way through this book. It was hilarious. The main character, Martha, was married young and spent the entirety of her brief marriage at a country estate. She is naive about everything. She doesn't relate well to others and is always thinking something hilarious. Think trading babies, weird pigs, and trying to convince poor peasant girls to read Shakespeare. The story plot was very predictable, even for a romance. What I enjoyed was seeing the world through the character's eyes. It was a fun, fast read. I received this book free of charge in exchange for my honest review.
Beguile_Thy_Sorrow More than 1 year ago
Ok 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 I start. 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 isnt too often I pick up something that I totally hate. The other reason is books like this one. Books that I'm thinking "aw man, I thought I was going to like this but it's so not working for me". I had even given this 3 stars already. Then suddenly this book took a turn for the 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 kind 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. Once I got into this book though, I began loving it as I got to know Theo and laughing at some of the hilarious remarks he'd make. He also has some really funny scenes with a pig from 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. 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:)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I hadn't read a romance in years, and what a way to come back to the genre. We're presented with two characters that aren't very likeable, one cold and disciplined, one hot with no discipline whatsoever. The woman hatches a scheme to get pregnant so she may keep her dead husband's brother from inheriting the estate, using the man for stud. Not very admirable, to say the least. But as we read we get to know these two people, and they get to know each other, and they grow as we grow in knowing them. Which is the best kind of romance novel. It makes the slowly growing regard and love so believable. Not only that, the novel surprised me. I've read thousands of romances, and I know all the cliches. This one *surprised* me. That alone made it worth reading. But oh, there was more. The writing itself. The style reminded me of some of my very favorite romance writers of the Golden 90's, the ones who could take my breath away with a single paragraph, all the words perfectly chosen. This romance probably isn't for everyone. It's not a Mary Sue self-insertion romance. But it's an intelligent one, beautifully written, and if you miss the romances of the Gaffney, Putney, Ivory of yore, I think you'll be glad to read this one.
Kim4 More than 1 year ago
Newly widowed and childless, Martha Russell knows that her rapacious brother-in-law will inherit the estate. In order to circumvent the laws of succession, Martha devises an audacious plan: If she can somehow become pregnant within 30 days, she will secure her future and those dependent on her. Coincidentally, her neighbor, the charming and handsome Theophilius Mirkwood, has recently been exiled to the country. His father hopes that a little time away from London will mature the profligate Theo. Fortified with the knowledge that Theo is on a strict financial leash, Martha approaches the young gentleman with her daring offer. Although Theo knows it's wrong to agree to such a faustian bargain, he also believes that it will be quite entertaining to bed the lovely widow. What is unusual about this book is not what happens in bed, but what occurs during Theo and Martha's subsequent conversations. The author takes on such topics as land managment and the benefits of educating females. It would spoil the plot to say more than this, but we learn why Martha chances utter ruination and how Theo is more substantive than Martha first assumes. I will say that it took me awhile to warm up to Martha. She is cold and self-contained throughout the first half of the novel. This is somewhat resolved as I learned more about her marriage, but she's definitely the more complicated and conflicted character. Conversely, Theo grows on the reader almost immediately with his warmth and charm. So if you want a different sort of love story than that found in the usual romance novel, this debut book by Cecilia Grant is a nice place to start.
SaraO More than 1 year ago
Great Voice and Unique Premise The reviews are right about this read: the voice of the book (really the juxtaposition of Mrs. Randall and Mr. Mirkwood’s voices) are utterly unique. Mrs. Randall’s [Martha's] character shouldn’t be someone readers like. She’s cold, stiff, and hell-bent on gaining absolutely no pleasure inside or outside the bedroom. And she’s not an iceberg that melts quickly. She spends almost the whole of her month-long daily baby-making activities distancing herself from her body’s ability to enjoy sex. Mr. Mirkwood [Theo] on the other hand is a sensualist. Charming, witty, a lover of women, and a lover of beauty for beauty’s sake. On the surface you want Martha to fall for him. You expect her to fall fast and hard for a man who is making it his day job to bring her pleasure. Any other romance heroine would have given into the pleasure an experienced rogue can provide…Not Martha. Nope. She’s a holdout – this woman can maintain focus like no one you’ve ever seen. And while I find her to be – restricted – I understand her need to feel special or unique to a man/lover. While, like most women, I wouldn’t feel as insulted to have my body or beauty praised (quite frankly the practical talk of sheep wouldn’t turn me on, lol) what Martha wants is an emotional connection from a man who is seemingly only interested in a bodily one. All that practical talk of sheep, roof fixing, and crop rotation is really Martha connecting with Theo on an emotional level that should (seriously) come far before sex. Ultimately, it is Martha’s emotional isolation that breaks down Theo’s immaturity and forces him to grow up and gain a conscience. He wonders…if he’s not good at pleasuring women…If he can’t do that – What is he worth? Martha unhinges him and he blossoms because of it. Theo’s sudden caring and leadership in turn break through the ice wall Martha has built around her heart. By the end of the story you realize it took the mismatched pair to make the best of each other. To push each other to places they wouldn’t have traveled otherwise. They both end up being better people because of it. And it must be noted that simply because Martha doesn’t want to enjoy sex, that there isn’t a healthy dose of the erotic spun throughout the book. I’m really not lying when I say Martha does nothing to ‘help’ Theo in the bedroom. He gets über excited when she touches his back at one point! However, Martha’s lack of participation causes Theo to come up with some pretty sexy fantasies involving Mrs. Randall herself and a few other women to help him fulfill his sexual errand. Lots of mirror work comes into play, and as Mrs. Randall thaws and becomes Martha its heartwarming (and then fraught with sexual tension) as we see how she begins to try to please Theo and how inspired and hopeful Theo becomes toward her. Theo is nothing if not a character with a bottomless amount of hope. Rating: 5/5 Can’t stop my admiration for the voice of this novel and its unique premise and plot flow. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book...not only for the romance,but becuase the characters were so real. Especially the female lead. The storyline is typical, but her personnality, dry observations and humor were so enjoyable. I laughed outloud many times. The emotions and reactions to there situation were very real and funny.
C.Ibarra on LibraryThing 26 days ago
I was torn on how to rate A Lady Awakened. The unique premise easily deserved a 5 star rating. I'm a bit of a historical romance junkie and it was so refreshing to see an author bring something that actually stands out as one of a kind to a genre that can easily begin to feel tired. Cecilia Grant did an excellent job of crafting this unique premise with a cast of nicely developed characters and well written prose. My only issue was that the story did get bogged down at times and felt as if it was moving so very slow. I would have loved to see more interaction between Martha and Theo and a little less focus on the workings of their estates. I understand this was crucial to the plot, but during a few scenes I felt I was really struggling to maintain interest. I loved the moments the two main characters had together and found myself longing for more when I reached the end.I do believe this is quite a talented author who will only get better with experience. I'm eager to read her next novel which based on synopsis sounds like it will be another unique treasure.
willowsmom on LibraryThing 26 days ago
I put off finishing this one for a long time: three months long, which is unheard of for me, especially when I am already 2/3 of the way through the book when I put it down. Now that I am finally removed enough from my rather visceral negative reaction to this book, let's talk about it: as a rape survivor, I found the semi-forced and entirely unwanted (on the part of the female main character) sex scenes to be toeing a line I wasn't comfortable with, and one which I certainly can't describe as in any way 'enjoyable'. Yes, okay, she EVENTUALLY comes around to enjoying herself, but chapters and chapters of uncomfortable, one sided, downright cringe-worthy sex scenes were not at all what I thought this book would be about. I did not enjoy this at all.
thehistorychic on LibraryThing 26 days ago
Won from Library Thing Early Reviewers (Nov)Overall Rating 3.50Story Rating 3.75Character Rating 3.25NOTE: This was a very quick read--I did it all in one setting. The pacing and storytelling were done excellently.What I Loved: Martha Russell was a strong leading lady with a lot of backbone. She knew what had to be done in order to help other people and was willing to do it. How her story played out and the ultimate ending were perfectly within her character's characteristics. I was very impressed with that.What I Liked: While not as enduring as Martha, I felt that Theo Mirkwood was a dashing leading man. While I knew it would all work out in the end, it took awhile for me to warm up to him.Complaints: I would have liked a little more romance--especially towards the end. It seemed to wrap up a little too quickly.
reesa00 on LibraryThing 26 days ago
I received this book through the LibraryThing Early Reviewer's program.A unique plot with intriguing characters that developed throughout the book. The romance in the book between the hero and heroine developed a little later than I would like (but it may just feel that way because they started sleeping together so quickly). In a couple of places the plot was a little slow but I will definitely read more by this author in the future.
BookLizard on LibraryThing 26 days ago
Although this book is marketed as a historical romance, it is heavy on the historical and confusing on the romance. The premise of the story - that a young, recent widow wants to get herself with child to pass off as her late husband's heir - while intriguing, is also far-fetched. Perhaps if her partner in crime were of the lower class or untitled it would be plausible, but he is a well-bred, eldest son himself who stands to inherit from his own father. The romance is slow to develop, the sex is frequent and un-hot, and there's very little sexual tension. What saves the novel is the characters. The hero is likable and the secondary characters are numerous and well-developed. The action taking place outside the bedroom is more interesting than the sex. Although the story drags a little in the middle and the ending feels a bit rushed, it is overall a satisfying read. If you are easily offended by crude language, you might want to take a pass on this one, but if you're looking for a historical romance that's outside the norm, give this one a try.
keeneam on LibraryThing 26 days ago
I had a hard time getting into this book and did not enjoy the beginning. However, I am glad I kept reading because I really enjoyed it and I loved the characters and how they both totally unexpected their fate. The book was well written and I can't wait to read more from Cecilia Grant.
ejmam on LibraryThing 26 days ago
Although the gimmick seemed silly at first (young widow hires cute guy to impregnate her in the first month), I really liked how Cecilia Grant spun the story. The two people learned to care for each other piece by piece, naturally and realistically. Both had to make changes in how they saw themselves and what they wanted.The final twists were a bit unnecessary, but they are a tradition in the genre. A solid romance, high on characterization and growth, although low on sexual heat.
AoifeT on LibraryThing 26 days ago
This is a very good Debut Novel. I am a fan of character driven and historical accurate books, and A Lady Awakened meets my preferences. Cecilia Grant did her research capture a realistic feel to the story. I enjoyed the humor of the secondary characters, including the pig. She also is an excellent writer. Her description and characterization made the book enjoyable. I wish the pacing, especially in the beginning, was a little faster. Once I adapted to the pace, I enjoyed it. The last part was truly a page-turner. I would have like an epilogue, however the ending does stand well on its own. I will look forward to future books by Cecilia Grant.
toofacedgrl on LibraryThing 26 days ago
I received this book through the Early Reviewer's Program. As an occasional reader of romance novels, I found A Lady Awakened to be a pleasant, quick read--I read it through the holidays. The premise of A Lady Awakened is a young, serious widow feels compelled to save her much older deceased husband's estate from his lecherous brother by producing an heir. Due to the tight window of opportunity, and because her spouse failed to impregnate her before he died, the widow "hires" a local gentleman libertine to help her produce an heir for the month following her husband's death. The book is not one of the best romance novels I've read--the main characters were predictable and stereotypical (even for a romance novel,) and the rising action in the book was basically confined to the last chapter and resolved in a way that was disappointing. Additionally, the actual "romance" was, for the most part, perfunctory, forced, and uncomfortable to read. It certainly isn't the worst romance novel that I've ever read, and I will be passing it on in my book club or suggesting it as a travel read.
gincam on LibraryThing 26 days ago
"A Lady Awakened", by Cecelia Grant, is a wonderfully involving, character-driven romance. Actually, both the lady and the gentleman are "awakened", each in their own way, and each to the delight of the reader. Practical-minded young widow, Martha Russell, must begat a child within a timely manner. The child must appear to be the heir of her unlamented late husband or else the Russell estate and its holdings will revert to Mr. Russell's lascivious brother. In order to keep her home and ensure the livelihood and safety of her employees and land tenants, Martha must produce an heir to the estate, preferably a son. The arrival of her neighbor's seemingly wastrel son, Theophilus Mirkwood, provides the perfect donor for Martha's plan. After being briefly taken aback, Theo agrees to be paid to perform a daily "session" with Martha in hopes that she will be with child by the end of one month. Martha initially resists Theo's charm and good humor, and this makes him all the more determined to "awaken" her sensuality. Along the way, young Theo himself is brought to awareness of many things around him, including the suffering of others and an appreciation for the land and being a responsible land owner. Just as Theo enjoys his newfound insights and thought processes, so does Martha begin to look forward to the company of her handsome, skilled lover whose lively good nature warms Martha through to her soul. You will truly root for these two characters to find their own true selves and to find a way to make their own happy ending. It is a joy for me to say that this was a romance unlike any other that I have ever read, and the author continually surprised me with the depth of the character development throughout the story line. A recommended read for romance lovers!Review Copy Gratis Amazon Vine
halo776 on LibraryThing 26 days ago
I'm a sucker for a beautiful cover, and this one is definitely interesting. Perhaps my expectations were too high, but this book left me very unsatisfied, and I doubt I will read more of Cecilia Grant's works.The premise is intriguing. Martha has been widowed, and if she is not carrying her husband's heir, she will lose her home and financial security, and her husband's estate will go to his ruthless brother (known for raping some of the female staff on previous visits). Determined to save herself and her staff, she decides her only option is to hire a stud to impregnate her. However, Martha Russell is so cold and self-righteous that she's able to convince herself--and Theo, the chosen stud--that it's necessary for the greater good, but that she will find no pleasure whatsoever in it. She hires Theo, a young and handsome neighbor, to visit her every day for a month. This is where the story loses interest. Theo wants her to enjoy their time together, but Martha is so cold and distant that once he even compares her to a corpse. She doesn't allow him to prepare her, and she makes it difficult for him by glancing disinterestedly around the room or making inane comments during their coupling. Why Theo agrees to continue is beyond me. She is a self-righteous bore, while he is charming, handsome, and caring. In real life, I believe Theo would have discontinued their relationship after the first meeting and found a more willing and enjoyable partner. There is nothing about her whatsoever to recommend her as the heroine of this novel. I believe the author intended the reader to feel sorry for her and to desire her to come to her senses and feel again. However, that is not the case. She is a woman without natural affection, and I have never been so sorry to see a dashing rake fall for a woman as I was when Theo fell in love with Martha.Regarding the love scenes, they are extremely short. There is a great lack of tender caresses and genuine intimacy. The scenes are cold and tasteless, and it's very hard to continue reading about Martha's indifference, night after night. There are times when the action drags and I lost interest. Much effort was given to showing Theo's progression from a young, reckless rake to a concerned and responsible gentleman. If as much time had been spent developing Martha's character into a warm and likable heroine, this book would have fared much better.
Scimone on LibraryThing 26 days ago
This is a must read!
Lorelai2 on LibraryThing 26 days ago
I was fortunate enough to receive an advance copy of this book from Library Thing and I hope that many of you out there who got gift cards in your stocking this season use them to grab an edition for yourself. Author Cecilia Grant imbues her characters with realistic charm and grace,making both their inner turmoil and outward frustrations(sexual and otherwise)compelling components of the story. The evolution of Martha and Theo's relationship is reflected through both their clandestine bed chamber meetings and their widening influence in the community. The two of them started out as isolated figures who let very few people into their personal sphere and not before long,find themselves the center of many other social circles. The positive growth of these romantic leads extends beyond themselves,which is something that doesn't happen to many major fictional folk and is enriching for the reader to explore.
heatherheartsbooks on LibraryThing 26 days ago
I'm not a huge romance reader, but I really enjoyed "A Lady Awakened" and would consider reading Cecilia Grant's next book. In "A Lady Awakened" we're treated to a romance in which the heroine, Martha, is a strong woman who has a great deal of interest in helping others. Theo, our hero, is a bit of a doofus -- like many a romance hero, he spends his life idle, going to parties, gambling, drinking, and chasing after women (but only dozens of "careful courtesans and decent adulterous wives", so he never risks VD -- I'd love to see a hero who isn't so lucky). My favorite things about this book are:No tired "widowed but knows little more about sex than a virgin" trope. Martha knows about sex and knows how to please herself - no man needed.Even after falling in love, our couple doesn't spend their time mooning over each other and engaging in constant lovemaking. Instead, their relationship revolves more around intellectual stimulation and meeting emotional needs than physical ones.Cecilia Grant's writing is nicely formal and accurate to the time period she was writing for - no "okay" or other modern slang - and, as a result, it takes a bit longer to go through this than your average romance.ARC courtesy of LibraryThing.
historicalbooklover on LibraryThing 26 days ago
Wow - This one is hard for me to rate. This story comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb as the saying goes with a few roars / laughs in the middle. I think the biggest problem I had with this book was Martha. Her character was just cold/flat/judgemental/irritating. Not easy to relate too......While Theo was easy to fall in love with. For me when reading a story I want to feel something with the characters, Fear, Hurt, Longing, Confusion, Love, Jealousy, Anger and with Martha there was nothing. I think a bit more history on why she was the way she was would have gone a long way in helping to understand & relate with Martha's character more. Will I buy the next book in the series? Yes I probably will, Parts of this story were quite strong and many parts made me laugh. I look forward to seeing this story unfold and watching this author grow.
onyx95 on LibraryThing 26 days ago
Widowed after such a short marriage left Martha Russell few options. If she just left the household to take her brothers offer, she would be leaving the household staff and the people in the surrounding area in a possible compromising position. Coming up with a way to keep control over the house that she has made her own, the land she has learned to work and the people she had grown to care for was the only option she could see for herself. The scheme she came up with could put her in a moral predicament she wasn't ready for. Being exiled to the country was suppose to be Theophilus (Theo) Mirkwood's punishment, but after Mrs. Russell's interesting proposition he thought things might not be so bad. Quickly Theo found the situation more of a challenge than he expected it to be. Getting done with the task at had left Theo and Martha time to talk and to come up with some ideas of his own for the land that he would inherit and the people he was getting to know. It is just a matter of time before he can get back to London, and maybe he can return with more than he ever expected to return with. Book 1 ..... This is suppose to be book one of the Blackshear family, I don't recall a Blackshear in this book? I really did enjoyed the very, very predictable story even if I struggled with the phrasing of things a few times. The "period" writers use words that I don't, no one I know uses some of these words and after looking up a few I decided to rely solely on context (basically I made a guess at the definition). To me that is over the top. I do enjoy the period writers, but some of them can go too far and this book hovered on that ledge several times. I made it through and did like the book. I may not go out and actively search for the next book (A Gentleman Undone - due out May 29 2012), but if I run across it I probably would not walk away without it.
cissa on LibraryThing 26 days ago
This was one of the best romances I've read recently!I liked that it didn't have a mystery or thriller subplot; it focused entirely on the relationships, and how people grew and changed due to the other people in their lives. The protagonists had a rapport even before they started to accept each other, and the various plot threads resolved in pretty satisfying ways, to my mind.I can't really put my finger on what made this subtly different from the way most romances "flow"... but it was, and I liked that. Generally, I can call the next plot point to come up (what I like about romances is not that the plot surprises me; it's how well it's done), but in this one i really couldn't. Some obvious potential events didn't happen, in favor of ones just as good and plot-developing, but less predictable. Excellent!I got this through LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program, and am very happy I did! I will look forward to Cecilia Grant's next novel with great eagerness.
ginger30297 on LibraryThing 26 days ago
Cecilia Grant starts out this book with some trouble. I could not really get into it until after the first few chapters, but once I was, the book was suprisingly good. You can really feel the characters toward the end. I would like to have been able to relate to, or at least feel the characters all the way through, but hopefully she can fix that in her next novel. Which I will be happy to have the chance to read! It looks like she will be a great author once she works the kinks out!
MeganB66 on LibraryThing 26 days ago
When Martha Russell is left a widow about to loose everything she has worked for she decides to do the unthinkable and become pregnant by other means. She decided to make a deal with her neighbor to give him the money to go back to his life in London if for a month he tires every day to get her pregnant with a boy.A very interesting story that seemed very acurate as far as how behavior was looked upon. I enjoyed the story but found it dragged in a few spots where the same thing occured on multiple occasions. As far as a romance novels. Thats where i found the book the most lacking. It seemed way to uncomfortable and the characters that were supposed to be in love in the end was just not believable to me.