A Lady Awakened by Cecilia Grant

A Lady Awakened by Cecilia Grant
A Lady Awakened by Cecilia Grant (Blackshear Family, Book 1)
{link url="http://www.fishpond.com.au/advanced_search_result.php?ref=866&&keywords=a+lady+awakened+cecilia+grant"}A Lady Awakened{/link} by Cecilia Grant (Blackshear Family, Book 1)

Sweet and well written, but requires a lot of patience.

Martha Russell is recently widowed. If she is not pregnant with an heir, she loses control of her beloved estate and the accompanying servants to her brother-in-law, who is not known for being kind. She decides to contract her hunky new neighbour, Theopilus Mirkwood, who has been exiled to the country by his father, into being her sperm stud. And this is where our story begins.

I had been looking forward to this book for a long time. Other readers absolutely raved in their reviews—lyrical, romantic, well-written, etc.  Then I got the book and it took me two months to read it.

While I will agree that A Lady Awakened is well written and lyrical and thoughtful and beautifully done, I did not like it. I would, however, give Cecilia Grant a second chance and try her next offering, and hopefully it will not try my patience as much as this book has done.

For starters, while I get that this is the whatever ages (Regency? post? pre?) and that women enjoying sex is not the usual and doesn’t really happen and I understand the lead character’s moral qualms are at the root of her not being able to orgasm, did the author have to make Mary frigid for two-thirds of the book? This is a romance novel, for god’s sake—could Grant not have made her enjoy the sex and end her suffering somewhere along the halfway point? Does it really take that long to get an orgasm in a romance novel? (Note: This is not real life.) There are no sweet scenes to build you up to the sex, either, because I’ve read books where there’s one sex scene in the end and something has usually happened before that.

All they do is talk about crops.

Yes, crops. And agriculture, etc. Theo has been sent to the country to learn about estate management. He discovers, while studding, that it relaxes Martha—or Mrs. Russell as he calls her for the entire book. He talks about estate management because she loves it. I get it. I get you need a happy topic to get into the comfort zone. I did, however, think there was too much talk of agriculture, in bed and out of it.

I spent most of the book feeling sorry for Mr Mirkwood. He had spent most of his life being told that he was good at only one thing—debauchery—only to find that no matter what he did he ended up getting stuck with Ms Frigid. Talk about deflating the ego. In the end he figures out he’s a natural born leader—yay, you!—but along the way I wanted to go, Dude, I know this is a challenge and you just want to make this work, but really?  You need to go and do something else with your life.

I spent a lot of time feeling like this was not a romance. LIke it was a journey of self-discovery for both characters—in this case well done, but I was, quite honestly, bored. I’ve read books before where everything is slow to unfold, but it does happen. I got halfway through this book and felt that there was no sign of romance. And I don’t mean the sex. I felt that there was no hint that they would end up together. I didn’t feel chemistry or tension—other than the painful, awkward kind—or even the tentative stirrings of what might have been. Nope. Dead in the water like a frigid widow.

So I put the book down.

I finally decided to pick it up again, because I felt that not finishing it was stopping me from reading other books, and god knows, we need more reviews! So I picked it up again, and thankfully the romance did, too. By then, however, I was at the last third of the book and I couldn’t be arsed, so I skimmed and skimmed.

The ending is rather sweet. Bad guy gets his comeuppance, girl and guy fall in love, there’s a small misunderstanding, and oh, happy sex. But why does it have to all be crammed at the end? And nothing really starts in the love department till they finally achieve orgasm. I realise she had to get over that to figure out that she could love someone, and I’m glad he does all the admitting first, but not that they take so long to get there.

Yay or nay?

I would only recommend this book because everyone else liked it. It’s had good reviews everywhere. It is written rather well, and it does end up sweetly. Maybe you just need more patience than I had when I was reading this book.

Who might enjoy it: People who like their romance drawn out and slow-paced

Who might not enjoy it: People who don’t like reading about crops

Title: A Lady Awakened (excerpt)
Series: Blackshear Family (Book 1)
Author: Cecilia Grant
Publisher: Bantam US

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Wandergurl is a sometime traveller who spends her daylight hours making sure that things go the way they're supposed to with minimum bureaucracy (don't ask!). A firm believer that thirty is the new twenty, she will probably never look her age (or act it!). An enthusiastic football supporter (that would be soccer to you) she will get up at odd hours to watch a game, and of course it's not just because the players are hot. She loves history, geography and is pretty good at trivia, thanks to her propensity to remember random bits of celebrity gossip. When not reading or travelling, she can be found indulging in her other passion -- eating -- and can be found at Wake up and smell the coffee.

3 comments

  1. Anna says:

    I had a similar reaction to you, and it’s kinda great to hear someone else say it!! I’ve been a little off romance recently, and I was so excited about this book, given all the hype. I didn’t see her as purely frigid – it actually started me thinking a lot about whether women need intimacy to enjoy sex. The fact that she did understand her body’s pleasure meant that she was withholding from him for personal reasons. 

    But yes, all the agriculture. I didn’t find it sexy or romantic after a while, and like you the romance really kicked off for me right at the end, and I wish it had been a bit more present throughout.

    I also had a problem with the way she loved him most when he was being noble, and thinking about duty. It was like a really weird kink that isn’t my thing AT ALL!!! He was a gorgeous character, and when you wrote, “You need to go and do something else with your life,” I was like YES!!!!!!

    It was a romance I just didn’t feel needed me to witness it, for it to be everything it could be, if that makes sense.  

  2. AnimeJune says:

    I’ll have to disagree with you on the frigidity part – the heroine makes it clear she refuses to experience pleasure for both moral and personal reasons. She can explain to herself that the decision to take a lover and have a child is a selfless one only if she doesn’t enjoy herself. As well, she also said that she only wanted to experience orgasm with a man she respected and admired.
    I, personally, found that my exact kink. Due to my own personal reading tastes, I really, REALLY hate romances where the hero and heroine do nothing but have hot sex all the time – BEFORE THEY EVEN REALLY LIKE OR TRUST EACH OTHER (which is why I’ve never enjoyed Lisa Kleypas or Anna Campbell). I found I loved that Theo actually had to CHANGE and become a more responsible, forward thinking person to be truly attractive to Margaret. And I loved how Theo came to respect HIMSELF more, which made him more confident and able to be attractive to Margaret.
    But then, that’s always been my personal taste. I really don’t need sex in my romance – I almost always skip the sex scenes. I remember going off on a huge rant against a reviewer at All About Romance because they said Julie James’ SEXIEST MAN ALIVE wasn’t a romance because it didn’t have a sex scene in it.
    I also really love detailed settings – which is why the agriculture didn’t bother me. I’m the same way with Lauren Myracle and Alice Hoffman. Love it when the settings are as much of a character as the characters.

  3. Wandergurl says:

    Anna – I get what you mean by not needing to witness it. I am glad I’m not the only one who didn’t like it – I think this raised quite a debate on twitter, as we had such polarizing view points

    Anime June – sometimes I don’t read the sex scenes either. I do agree that just because there isn’t any sex it doesn’t mean it isn’t a romance (Lynn Kurkland comes to mind, with her time travel romances). Romance is romance, regardless. I think that it can work with no sex at all, but somehow too much sex doesn’t work for me – i think it gets in the way of a plot, or I guess in some cases shows there isn’t really one. (not talking about this book)

What do you think?