Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Happy Release Day! The Captive by Grace Burrowes (Review + Giveaway)


It's the first of July! And it's also the release day of The Captive, the first book in a new series by one of my favourite authors, Grace Burrowes!

To celebrate, Sourcebooks is hosting a giveaway for a tote filled with several of Grace's backlist titles. (Enter through Rafflecopter below.)

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About the book:

Author: Grace Burrowes
Release Date: July 1, 2014
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Historical Romance

Summary:

Captured and tortured by the French, Christian Severn, Duke of Mercia, survives by vowing to take revenge on his tormentors. Before the duke can pursue his version of justice, Gillian, Countess of Greendale, reminds him that his small daughter has suffered much in his absence, and needs her papa desperately.

Gilly endured her difficult marriage by avoiding confrontation and keeping peace at any cost. Christian's devotion to his daughter and his kindness toward Gilly give her hope that she could enjoy a future with him, for surely he of all men shares her loathing for violence in any form. Little does Gilly know, the battle for Christian's heart is only beginning.


Excerpt:
The countess brought Christian’s hand up, holding the back of it against the extraordinary softness of her cheek. Until he’d taken liberties with her in the library, he’d forgotten how wonderfully, startlingly soft a woman’s cheek could be. As soft as sunshine and summer rain, as soft as the quiet of the English countryside.

“Shall we sit?” he asked, though she’d likely release his hand if they sat. He was a widower, though, and she ought not to begrudge him simple human contact when he’d been so recently bereaved.

She let him lead her to a shaded bench near the roses, the morning air faintly redolent of their perfume. When Christian seated her, the countess kept his damaged hand in hers.

“I was not allowed to garden at Greendale,” she said, fingers drifting over his knuckles. “The estate had gardens, because his lordship would not be seen to neglect his acres, but I was forbidden to walk them, or to dig about in the good English soil, or to consult with the gardeners regarding the designs and plantings.”

Based on the studied casualness of her tone, this prohibition had been irksome.

“You are free to garden here all you like,” Christian said. “I ask only that you not disturb my mother’s roses.”

“They are lovely.”

“She was lovely.”

Another silence, while Christian became aware of his surroundings beyond the small hand holding his. The roses were in their early summer glory, and why Polite Society insisted on staying in Town through most of June was incomprehensible, when the alternative was the English countryside. The sunshine was a perfectly weighted beneficence on his cheek, the scent of the gardens heavenly, and the entire morning aurally gilded with the fluting chorus of songbirds.

He wanted to kiss the lady beside him again, not in thanks, not as a good-night benediction, but for the sheer pleasure of the undertaking.


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My Review:

Captured by the French and then held captive and tortured for three years -- it is an unreal circumstance for Christian, the Duke of Mercias, and everyone who has heard this tale could not believe it either: his story has become a myth whispered about amongst soldiers -- of the lost duke locked away in a secret location somewhere in France.

But Christian's suffering is very real and, after three years, he is finally free. Grace Burrowes's The Captive tackles a daunting challenge: to tell the story of a hero who has gone through the worst terror, of surviving it and then of what happens to him after. It is a discordant situation -- but Burrowes has managed to tell his story in a balanced and graceful way. It is a melancholic melody and a wonderful tribute to man's ability to endure.

This is not the first story of war to be told in a historical romance, and it is not the first story of survival either -- but, this is, perhaps, the first time I have read about how a man's teeth can soften and loosen from disuse and of broken fingers and of fingernails being pulled out. (The word "oranges" now has a sad note attached to it.) But Burrowes does not revel in the gore, nor does she capitalise on the pity factor -- these details of torture are stated matter-of-factly and quite quietly, actually -- but their implications speak volumes (and resonated loudly in my heart.)

Christian is a heroic hero, in the truest sense of the word -- it is not his suffering that makes him heroic, but his survival and present life. He has chosen to shun the limelight, the accolades and the fame that comes with coming home a hero -- all of which he greatly deserves, but, before we dismiss him as boring and saintly, we discover that Christian is slowly plotting his revenge against his captor and has been corresponding with fellow soldiers for information. He hasn't forgiven or forgotten -- but he is wise enough to know that he needs to recover his strength before he confronts his captor.

Christian inhabited two simultaneous realities: the pleasant early evening in the stables, and the inchoate, amorphous disasters gathering in his mind.
- loc 866

I will warn you right now, fellow readers, that it's very hard not to fall in love with this man -- much like our heroine. Gillian, Countess of Windmere, never intended to form any sort of relationship with Christian. She sought him out to remind him of his duties to his daughter. Gillian did not need to care about Christian's daughter. She had herself to worry about, but she cared enough to approach a member of the opposite sex, a gender that has done great harm to her, and trusted him to do right by his daughter.

I don't think either one expected to find love, or discover that their hearts were capable of feeling anything, after what they had gone through. It surprised them both to discover this connection between them. I love that they don't overthink or over-analyze it, but simply allow it to take shape between them. The love that blossoms between them is not the enthusiastic love of youth, but a more mellow one. The exchanges between Christian and Gillian are very domestic, and very intimate -- but, within those encounters, the seeds of a transformative love blossomed.

The question that Burrowes poses is not that we endure, but how and why. Both Christian and Gillian have experienced terrible cruelty, but they have picked up themselves and moved forward -- what motivates a man to keep on going? Christian's focus has been revenge. It was what fueled him. For Gillian, her motivation is rooted in hope, which is amazing. Christian's transformation is very subtle, but I loved it when he finally started seeing the world from Gillian's point of view.

Dark, but not dark. Slow, steady and deliberate, but not dragging or boring. It's a great love story, but there is no clear courtship or "romancing"/seduction going on. There are no generalizations to be made through this story. No sweeping statements or conclusions about life or love or suffering or war -- they are all unique and individual. The sentiment is echoed by Devlin St. Just, who appears in this story, and who becomes a good friend to Christian and Gillian. Like Christian, he has been to war and back, and he isn't the same man as he was before the war.

From the very first chapter, the state of Gillian's marital affairs are heavily hinted about, and, when she finally reveals to Christian the story of her married life, it was a liberating and empowering moment for her. And Burrowes's message is clear: there is no such thing as a "small" suffering, as Gillian believes of her situation, especially compared to what Christian went through. Suffering is suffering.

"You will propose again, won't you?" she asked now that the moment of parting was upon them. "You needn't repeat the bended knee part. When whatever is haunting you that requires you to charge off to London is put to rest, I would like to hear another proposal very much."

His arms closed around her, and his chin came to rest on her crown.

"This little business will pass, Gilly, while my feelings for you are constant. You are testing us both and grieving in your fashion and wondering what will become of you now that your enemy is in the ground. The generals always had the worst time controlling their troops when a siege broke and the city had fallen. That's when the real mayhem ensued, and you and I are no different."

"I'm not some pillaging infantryman to express my frustrations with gun and bayonet." OF that, she was certain.

"You know a great deal about being besieged, though."

He spoke gently and too quietly for anyone else to hear. The words were easy to understand on the surface, but the sense of them went much deeper. She took a breath and let herself feel his arms around her, let her cheek rest against his muscled chest.

"I'm about to cry."

"I know of nobody who has greater justification for tears."
- loc 3771

In every story of revenge, there is always a moment of reckoning, and, when it happens in The Captive, Grace Burrowes does not shy from or skirt away from the issues -- but lets his hero confront it head on. I think "slow burn" is a good phrase to describe Christian's journey from freedom to ... more freedom. In the beginning, Christian may have been physically free, but his mind and soul were still chained to the man who held him captive -- in the end, Christian was able to finally break free, completely.

The Captive is spellbinding and is a definitive exclamations of love and life, but Grace Burrowes does it in a quietly elegant way. The writing is amazing, the vision/purpose of the story startlingly clear, and the characters are just ... Wow. Truly, there are no words.

The Captive is the first book in Grace Burrowes's Captive Hearts series and was released today, July 1.

Disclosure: I received this review copy for this event. Thank you to Grace Burrowes and Sourcebooks for the opportunity. Yes, this is an honest review.

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About the author:

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Grace Burrowes' bestsellers include The Heir, The Soldier, Lady Maggie's Secret Scandal, Lady Sophie's Christmas Wish and Lady Eve's Indiscretion. Her Regency romances have received extensive praise, including starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist. Grace is branching out into short stories and Scotland-set Victorian romance with Sourcebooks. She is a practicing family law attorney and lives in rural Maryland.




Social Media Links:
Website: http://graceburrowes.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Grace-Burrowes/115039058572197
Twitter: https://twitter.com/GraceBurrowes
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4152482.Grace_Burrowes

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Sourcebooks is hosting a giveaway for a tote filled with several of Grace's backlist titles.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

5 comments:

  1. Great honest review Tin!
    I have read some of Grace's books and really enjoyed them.
    I would like to continue reading her, I will be tracking down the books I have missed.
    With her new series, I will try to follow along in order, starting with THE CAPTIVE.
    I think I will be keeping this author on my "must-read" list. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for the review Tin. I can't imagine not loving one of Grace's books. :-) This tour is making it extremely difficult for me to stick to my guns and finish the Lonely Lords series before reading The Captive. Of course, once I finish it, I'll be dying to read The Traitor and then The Laird....

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  3. I've read and enjoyed several of her books (rereading Lady Maggie's Secret Scandal right now) and this review just reinforces my interest in her newest work.

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  4. Hi, Glenda! I skipped the Lonely Lords series, but, now that I've read The Captive, I feel very, very compelled to go back and pick up all the Lonely Lords. ^_^

    Hi, Dee! Maggie's story was so, so nice! She's referenced once in this novel by her brother, Devlin. ^_^

    Hi, Dalila! Agree! Grace Burrowes is a must-read author for me as well. ^_^

    Thank you all for your comments and for helping me celebrate The Captive's release day!

    ReplyDelete

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