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