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[personal profile] oyceter
I am definitely keeping an eye out for this author, because she seems to be doing interesting things with genre tropes, particularly for historicals.

A Lady Awakened

In order to secure her household's maids from her rapey brother-in-law's management, Martha Russell decides to conceive a fake heir to keep the property. Theophilius Mirkwood is the guy she chooses. The pairing is fairly typical for romances: Martha is uptight, very moral, and doesn't think much of sex, while Theo is the rake who's been exiled to the country. Normally, Theo would seduce Martha into enjoying her own sexuality while she imparts a greater sense of responsibility on him. The latter happens, but though Theo has his mind set on the former, Martha has other ideas.

The sex in this book is remarkably unsexy. Martha rolls her eyes at Theo's compliments and his attempts to please her, and... he really never manages to seduce her. Instead, after the chore of trying to conceive is over, they gradually get to know each other by talking about dairies, treatment of tenants, and various agricultural things.

I don't have the best impression of the book, since I basically would read one chapter, put it down for a few weeks, and then read a bit more. That said, I like that Grant lets Martha be unaffectionate and practical and cold and that the sex never really becomes the Most! Best! Thing! Ever!, as it usually does when uptight widows and pleasure-loving rakes are involved. I also enjoyed the prose a lot.

A Gentleman Undone

I can't tell if I liked this more because it pinged my buttons more, or if it's partly due to reading it in a single chunk.

Will Blackshear (brother of the previous book's heroine) has returned home from the Napoleonic Wars with PTSD and a lot of obligations he feels he should meet. Lydia Slaughter is someone else's mistress who is extremely good at counting cards. Together, they decide to go gambling together so Will can meet his obligations and Lydia can set herself up as an independent woman.

The book is actually much darker than the summary sounds; Lydia and Will both have dark things in their pasts. I particularly love Lydia, who detests feelings and tenderness and likes sex very, very much. Throughout most of the book, Lydia remains with her protector while Will deals with the guilt of wanting another man's mistress, and thankfully, the book doesn't do the usual "courtesan finds sex with the hero to be the Best! Sex! Ever!"

The book is paced oddly, and though Lydia's card-counting skills are emphasized a lot in the first few chapters, that thread is dropped for a bit for a drama-filled house party and then taken up on the last page of the book, where it felt atonal and out of place.

Other things I like: Lydia isn't punished for enjoying sex and gets a lot of agency in the sex scenes (though at some points, I was a bit concerned about consent issues in terms of her pressuring Will). No miracle baby + couple being okay with not having kids. Will's family is clearly not evil, but the majority of his siblings disapprove of him and Lydia and there doesn't seem to be an overall reconciliation by the end of the book. (I also like that Martha's marriage from the previous book still isn't completely okay by the family as well.)

Read if you like a lot of angst re: PTSD, honor, and trust.

(no subject)

Tue, Mar. 12th, 2013 03:56 am (UTC)
rachelmanija: (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] rachelmanija
Read if you like a lot of angst re: PTSD, honor, and trust.

I know I do!

(no subject)

Wed, Mar. 13th, 2013 04:08 pm (UTC)
oracne: turtle (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] oracne
I totally enjoyed these, in different ways. I can't wait for her next one.

(no subject)

Wed, Mar. 13th, 2013 08:43 pm (UTC)
oracne: turtle (Default)
Posted by [personal profile] oracne
I have the new one wishlisted, with the date!

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