April 20, 2012

Book Review: A Lady Awakened by Cecilia Grant

At First Sight: Newly widowed Martha Russell is someone who takes duty very seriously and, upon learning that her brother-in-law -who is to inherit her current house - has a history of taking advantage of the female staff, she decides it's her duty to keep them safe. Best way to do it? Get pregnant fast enough that she can pass the baby as her husband's, and that way she can retain control of the propriety. Her only problem now is finding someone to get her pregnant.

That leads her to Theo Mirkwood. Theo was sent to the countryside by his father, hoping a stint managing one of their smaller states will help him mature some. He didn't expect to be approached by a respectable widow with a shocking proposition: she'll pay him to have sex with her every day for a month, hoping he'll get her pregnant. 

Theo knows he shouldn't agree, since that's the kind of behavior that will keep him stuck in the countryside - as he's only allowed to return to his life in London when his father and the estate manager feel like he has matured - but he's bored and figures he's not likely to find a better offer. 

So, he agrees, engaging in an affair that will eventually change the way he sees the world. 

Second Glance: I had heard lots of great things about A Lady Awakened and then I read Daisy@Between the Pages's review, which warned me not to go in with too high expectations.

I found Theo to be a great character, for me he's one of the things that work really well in the story. He's on the youngish side for a romance hero - only 26 - and he behaves like I expect a young man of means and with no responsibilities to behave, someone who has rarely had to thought of others. But he's not a bad guy, in fact, his heart is in the right place, he just doesn't know what to do to help others, and he is a bit immature. 

I even like the whole agricultural/dairy thing, and how Theo starts to take interest in all that stuff and the lives of the people who live in his estate. 

But Martha... she sucked big time, I don't even dare call her heroine. She's determined to put duty above everything else, always. Martha sees it as her duty to protect the female servants of her estate, but finds no pleasure in, well, anything. She doesn't even want Theo to bother making sex fun between them, she just wants him to get down to business and be uncomfortable while it's happening (honestly). 

The thing is, it never makes sense why she is the way she is, why she's so emotionally unavailable. She was young and her family wasn't pressuring her to marry, but not even with a full London season under her belt, she decides to marry an old man, Mr. Russell, but why?

It's like Martha tries to make herself into a martyr but it's never explained why, so she never made sense to me and that made it impossible for me to like her. I even felt bad for Theo for being saddled with her. 

And the ending? I found it very, meh. 

Bottom Line: I'm sad to say that A Lady Awakened suffers from Crappy Heroine Syndrom. The writing is nice and I really liked the hero and over all plot, but Martha kind of knocked two and a half stars all on her own. 

PS-  Thanks to Jane from Dear Author, 'cause I won this book in a giveaway she and Sarah from Smart  Bitches Trashy Books did late last December.

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