Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Review: An Unexpected Gift by Katherine Grey

Lazarus is a powerful figure in London's Underworld. He is seemingly untouchable, with men so loyal that they would be willing to risk their own lives to serve him. As William Prescott, Lazarus is infiltrating London's High Society to search for his missing sister, Mary -- and one man seems to have the answers: the Duke of Sandhurst.

After years of helping her brother during the War, Olivia is finally living a peaceful life keeping house for her brother, Sir Phillip. She has cast off all thoughts of ever practicing medicine, having seen and done and felt too much during the war. When her brother goes missing, and when Lazarus appears at her door, bleeding, and looking for him, Olivia gets swept up into a world she isn't prepared for -- but Lazarus/William intrigues her and Olivia feels he might know where her brother is.

There are several strong points to recommend this story:
Olivia trained alongside her brother and is skilled at medicine, but the trauma of war has left her with PTSD so, while her spirit longs to heal and nurture, her mind and body are in need of healing and nurturing -- Katherine Grey portrays PTSD in a straightforward and sympathetic manner -- I empathized with Olivia when something would trigger her memories. And I loved that she had such a supportive staff who took care of her.

What is wonderful about Olivia is that she has a core of steel. She doesn't allow her illness to rule her life. When faced with Lazarus and the threat he posed to her household, she bravely confronted him and deftly took charge when she discovered he was injured. She's a woman who doesn't allow herself to be bullied -- when her "friend" Amanda, Lady Riverton, was trying to push her and mold her, Olivia very politely, but very clearly, told her friend, no.

Olivia watched her walk away. She never realized how much her friend manipulated the people around her. Until now. Now, that she had started doing things Amanda didn't approve of. Things that could ruin her reputation and taint the Riverton name by association.
- pp. 95-96

While the writing needs a bit more polish, Katherine Grey also shows on many occasions throughout the story her unique style, voice and point of view. There are very memorable lines and dialogue. This one is my favorite:

... "What do you know of Mr. Hammond?" Will had refused to discuss the man with her, and this might be her only chance to learn about him and why he and Will seemed to be enemies.

Mr. Finch sat back, his gaze wary. "Nothing."

From his shuttered expression, she was certain he knew something. "Nothing?" She let her disbelief drip from the word.

"Yes, absolutely nothing. It's a religious thing, you see."


"Yes, I'm a devout coward."
- p. 218

She also provides yet another version of the bad boy-as-hero -- Delilah Marvelle's Matthew and Edward/Nathaniel were also involved in disreputable trade, they presented the same face/character regardless of who they dealt with. Lazarus follows Elizabeth Hoyt's Charming Mickey -- adapting a different persona and name depending on whose company he is in.

I did like that Olivia saw both sides of William/Lazarus's personality -- and accepted them both. There were some hiccups in the development of Olivia and William's relationship: while it wasn't explained (and I wish a backstory was provided for him), William/Lazarus was sometimes suspicious and hurtful and he always seemed to blow up at all the wrong times. (Read pp. 212-213)

I didn't feel the intimacy between the two was developed that clearly -- I saw glimpses of attraction and desire but their conversation and interaction never indicated anything deeper. (I wonder if the shortness of this novel is partly the reason?)

I also wished the author was able to maintain the suspense/mystery aspect of the story: throughout the story, the focus had been Lazarus's search for his sister. I thought the resolution for his search was a bit anticlimactic, considering the build up. Olivia's own search didn't feel that important -- but, in the end, it was the one that provided high drama.

The focus of the story also shifted multiple times, following different plot threads: (Lazarus vs the Duke of Sandhurst, Olivia vs Amanda, Lady Riverton, Olivia & Mr. Finch, Lazarus vs. Mr. Hammond, Lazarus and Olivia) -- it was a bit confusing trying to follow names and stories -- but, in the end, Katherine Grey does tie everything together nicely. She was able to provide an answer to all the questions she posed at the start of the story.

On the whole, I was satisfied with the story. The author mentions that Lazarus previously appeared in a previous work, The Muse.

To find out more about Katherine and her books, visit her blog. She's also on Facebook and on Goodreads.

Disclosure: The author provided a review copy of this book. Yes, this is an honest review.


  1. Thank you for reviewing "An Unexpected Gift." I'm glad you enjoyed Olivia's and Will/Lazarus' story.

  2. Very nice review. I picked up a copy of this book and can't wait to read it. I've been waiting to read more of Lazarus since I read The Muse. :)

  3. Hi, Katherine! Thank you for the opportunity!

    Hi, Melissa! Thank you for dropping by! I'm also curious about Lazarus and plan to read The Muse very soon. Have a great day!



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