Saturday, January 21, 2012

A Lady Awakened by Cecilia Grant

I have a soft spot for new authors.  I love picking up "first books" without bothering to read reviews online -- if it is a debut author and it's a historical romance, 9 out of 10 times, I will purchase it.

Here's why -- there are thousands (maybe millions) of aspiring romance writers out there -- these "first books" have something special in them that caught the attention of publishers -- and I like discovering this by reading their books.

So far, I've had a lot of success with this method -- Sherry Thomas and Tracy Anne Warren are two such authors who I've discovered by bravely buying their first books.

I have been disappointed by maybe one or two debut novels in the past 6 years of reading romances -- for the most part, debut novels have introduced me to memorable stories and to new authors to look forward to.

And now, Cecilia Grant's debut comes along.  And it is stellar.

The prose is breathtaking -- deliberate and thoughtful.  Words pieced together to form and complement the sentiment of the characters and of the story.

Martha and Theo are wonderful as heroine and hero.  She's cold, distant and aloof.  He's a ne'er-do-well sent banished from London by his father who got tired of his wasteful living.

He agrees to her proposition as a lark --

But in their month together, these two hearts coming from very, very different directions both realize what love and making love is all about.

While the title implies that it is only Martha who is awakened, in truth, one sees Theo's as well.  He realizes his value as a man -- and the work that he can accomplish once he applies himself.

I love the pace of the story -- and we really see how the two characters change as they move along.  It is also interesting to see Grant tackle the difference between "sex" and "making love" -- too often in romance novels, lust (and sex) becomes the driving force that joins the hero and heroine together.  And they will blindly call it "love" --

In Grant's story, they couple have sex early on.  It is unpleasant business for the both of them because it is exactly that -- business.

When they finally make love, after a period of knowing each other, the realization comes not only to the hero and heroine -- but also to the reader.

And when they finally say "I Love You" -- I believed it.  

There were times when the writing felt too subtle -- for instance, Martha's marriage and the reason for her aloofness -- but it is there, layered carefully in the words on the page.

This was a wonderful debut -- and I am excited to reading Grant's next book.

***Early portions of this review came from a short piece I wrote 3 years ago.


  1. OK, I must admit to being as surprised as you are when the heroine did not go violently head over heels in lust with the hero, considering it's practically a given where romance is concerned.

    The progress of the romance is slow, but while some readers might be turned off by the heroine's apparent unexcitability (have I just made up a new word?), it lends more credibility to their love story.

  2. True -- this was a case of love building up from something small to something blazing.

    I was going to say it makes the story more "real" -- but I like your choice of word -- it does make the story more "credible" --

    For most novels, lust is confused for love -- but in this one, Martha's coldness shows us that, in the end, without a doubt, theirs was love.



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