Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Happy Release Day: The Traitor by Grace Burrowes (Review + Giveaway)

Happy August! Today is the release day of The Traitor, the second book in The Captive Hearts series by Grace Burrowes. (It's an awesome series!)


To celebrate the release of The Traitor, Sourcebooks is giving away five (5) historical romance novel bundles featuring Grace Burrowes, Katie MacAlister and Shana Galen. Enter via Rafflecopter below.

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About the book:

Author: Grace Burrowes
Release Date: August 5, 2014
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Historical Romance

Summary:

The past will overtake him ...

Abandoned in France since boyhood, despite being heir to an English barony, Sebastian St. Clair makes impossible choices to survive a tour of duty in the French Army. He returns to England hoping for the peaceful life of a country gentleman, though old enemies insist on challenging him on the field of honor, one after another.

But this time, he will not fight alone ...

Millicent Danforth desperately needs her position as companion to the Traitor Baron’s aunt, but grieves to learn that Sebastian must continually fight a war long over. As Sebastian and Milly explore their growing passion, they uncover a plot that will cost Sebastian his life and his honor, unless he does battle once more -- this time in the name of love.

Click here to read the first 3 chapters of The Traitor at Grace Burrowes's website.


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My Review:

Sebastian St. Clair is the real name of Robert Girard, a character I really, really hated when we read about him in Christian's book (The Captive). When I found out he was the hero of the second book, I wondered how Grace Burrowes would accomplish such a task: What would it take for me to forgive him of the atrocities he committed during the war? What would it take to convince me that he is a man worthy of someone's love and affection? What would it take to convince me that he deserves a happy ending?

I didn't want an easy way out for Sebastian. I didn't want tabula rasa for him: I wanted his path to redemption to be as slow, painful as arduous as the torture he inflicted on Christian -- it is a testament to Grace Burrowes's perceptiveness to choose this particular road for him. There is no clean slate for Sebastian St. Clair -- he is indissolubly inscribed/etched/scratched with the past.

I would not have wanted to be in Sebastian's position -- to wake up every morning, with the sense of impending doom: will he be challenged to another duel? Will his enemies decide to take a less honourable way of avenging themselves against him? Add to this, Sebastian is burdened by the nightmares of his choices and his current life. While the English have gone home from war (leaving it in France), Sebastian has come home to it in England. What is remarkable about Sebastian is that he understands -- that he has a role to play in resolving the stories of many English soldiers. Not once does he lash out, or speak indignantly of his rights and honours. He quietly bears the consequences of who he is.

Milly is a well-crafted and well-thought-of character. Sebastian needed a woman who would not ignore or avoid his past, but to find a way to accept it as part of the total man. Milly had been at the receiving end of betrayal and poor treatment from her relatives, who were entrusted with her care and well-being. Instead, she was treated worse than a servant because she was unpaid. And she suffered beatings as well because she was illiterate.

The term "illiterate" has been examined in The Traitor: Milly's relatives took such great stock in the ability to read and write as though they were the end-all and be-all of a person. They saw Milly as less than they were because she could not learn things the way she was expected to. Grace Burrowes holds up a mirror to society, and we see the irony of the situation. Milly was so, so much more than Alcorn and Freida (her relations) and she had an incredible, incredible gift that just wasn't appreciated.

In that Sebastian and Milly are a perfect match -- they are both misfits, but, they fit together wonderfully. Sebastian didn't want to love Milly, didn't think he was worthy of something so divine or sublime, but Milly perfectly understands the necessary choices we make in life in order to survive. She has had to leave the warmth of her aunts's home and enter service. Her experience is only a very tiny fraction of the difficult choices Sebastian has had to make to survive the war.

There's one line that struck me, as I was reading Grace Burrowes's The Traitor, it's 44% into the book and Milly is helping Lady Freddy get ready for the night out:

"I think you know more than you should about waging war with silk and jewels, but turquoise or sapphire will go better with our colouring if you're set on wearing the new dress."
- loc 1674 to 1683

It's the phrase "waging war" that stood out and I think Grace Burrowes was very deliberate and very clever in how she has subverted all these words and given them a new meaning for Sebastian, Milly and to everyone else in Sebastian's life. I like how they slowly redefine these words that had caused so much grief, letting them shed the terrible weight of the past and giving them a more meaningful meaning. The change is Sebastian is very subtle, but is also something that runs very deeply. When he first meets Milly, he sees her as he does the prisoners brought to him at the Chateau and studies and sizes her up accordingly:

"Good morning, Miss Danforth. May I join you for a moment?" Because a proper interrogation was conducted with proper respect for the person questioned.

...

She had good taste in flowers. Many knaves and whores did, as did some traitors. "Do you mind if I play?"

"Of course not, my lord."

A slight misstep on his part. If he didn't ask permission to sit, he probably ought not to ask permission to use his own piano. He started off with a few scaled, mostly to draw his not entirely quiet mind from the scent of lavender and the sight of graceful female hands toying with flowers and greenery.

"Might I inquire as to your last position, Miss Danforth?"

She clipped off a few inches of a thorny rose stem. "I was companion to a pair of my aunts, my lord."

Again she did not chatter. She was a woman who understood the proper tempo of an interrogation.
- loc 129 to 147

Much later, when friendship and love develop between them, the idea of "interrogation" is brought up, but, with a more playful hue:

"Lead on, Sebastian, and tell me about your parents."

He took her hand, and she hadn't even had to ask. "You're to interrogate me?"
- loc 2152 to 2161

We often use the term "blind acceptance" to accept something without question, and it got me thinking if there is an opposite to it, because that is what Milly and Sebastian do: their romance doesn't skirt around the issues, but forces our hero and heroine to wade through the mire. This is a couple whose relationship was tested in fire and it has come through it stronger.

Yes, there is a villain in the story, but the author utilises this element very sparingly. I would've hated for the villain to be the galvanising factor for our hero and heroine (and would always wonder if they would've ended up together if the villain had been absent) -- this is not the case. What the villain does is to put the hypothetical to the test and see how strong Milly and Sebastian's resolve and relationship is. (It's so easy to promise, "I love you for better or worse" without ever going through the worse, but, what if the worse did happen -- what then?)

Grace Burrowes is an author who understands the complexities of life and love and boldly explores them in her love stories. The Traitor displays such a profound degree of insight into war and survival, about traitors and heroes, about loss and gain -- it's a truly breathtaking and remarkable story.

The Traitor is the second book in Grace Burrowes's The Captive Hearts series and was released today, August 5.

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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Giveaway!

To celebrate the release of The Traitor, Sourcebooks is giving away five (5) historical romance novel bundles featuring Grace Burrowes, Katie MacAlister and Shana Galen. Enter via Rafflecopter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

10 comments:

  1. Great review Tin!
    This is another one of Grace's books that will be in my hands very soon. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a really, really nice book Dalila. When I started reading it, I was worried about how I would react to Sebastian -- but Grace Burrowes is brilliant in how she is able to flesh out his character and backstory.

      Would love to compare notes when you're done reading. ^_^

      Have a great day!

      Delete
  2. This is the best review yet I've read of this amazing book. Well done! Bonnie

    ReplyDelete
  3. Although I sometimes question the appropriateness of some of the author's vocabulary and her characters' attitudes as being out of sync with the time period, that's a small quibble when I always, always become immersed in the story and forget minor discrepancies in the sheer joy of reading. To answer the contest question, I would be an Operative since my real life never matches my imaginary one.

    ReplyDelete

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