Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Book Blast: A Matter of Grave Concern by Brenda Novak (Review + Giveaway)

Love Saves the World is very excited to celebrate the release of A Matter of Grave Concern, Brenda Novak's latest historical romantic suspense novel.

As part of this event, Brenda will be awarding a $100 Amazon gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. To visit the rest of the blogs participating in this event, click here.

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About the book:


When Maximillian Wilder joins the notorious body snatchers known as the London Supply Company, the last thing on his mind is love. He’s worried about Madeline, his vanished half sister, who was last seen in the company of Jack Hurtsill, the gang’s conscienceless leader. Raiding graveyards, stealing corpses, and selling them to medical colleges as dissection material is dirty work, but he has to gain Jack’s trust. He’s determined to find out what happened to Madeline -- and to bring Jack to justice if she was murdered for the coin her body could bring.

Beautiful, spirited Abigail Hale, daughter of the surgeon at Aldersgate School of Medicine, detests the challenging, hard-bargaining Max. But she must procure the necessary specimens if she is to save the college and her father’s career. She believes she is going to be successful -- until Jack double-crosses her. Then she’s swept into a plot of danger and intrigue, one where Max must intervene and protect her, no matter the risk to his plan ... or his heart.


“Ouch! That hurts! What are you doing?” she asked, trying to wiggle away from the roughness of his chin as he chafed it against her face and neck.

Max could feel the ridge of Miss Hale’s collarbone beneath his cheek, then more smooth skin as he slid his chin up the column of her throat. “I am leaving a few marks on you, for Jack’s edification,” he said. “He will never believe you were ravished without something to show for it.” Pausing just below her left earlobe, he began to suck on her neck.

She squirmed some more, resisting, but that soon subsided and she started to giggle. He guessed from her bossiness that she didn’t laugh often but, strangely enough considering all the trouble she had caused him, he liked the sound of it.

“Nothing in my father’s books said anything about this,” she said. “What on earth are you doing? Stop! It tickles. What could possibly be the point?”

He lifted his head only when he was satisfied that he had left a deep purple mark. “What your father’s books didn’t tell you, Miss Hale, is that much of what goes on between a man and a woman, at least in the bedroom, has no point. It is simply for the sake of pleasure, for the pure, heady passion of reveling in the opposite sex, of letting go of all inhibition long enough to enjoy giving everything and receiving everything all at the same time.”

He knew his voice sounded slightly hoarse, but she smelled so damn clean and fresh. And her skin—it had to be the softest he had ever touched.

Moonlight lit her face as she cocked a finely arched eyebrow at him. “You seem quite well-versed on the subject.”

“I have never read any bloody medical journals, that’s for damn sure. After hearing what they have to say, I think I’m glad.”

“What’s wrong with what they say?”

Max ignored her in favor of nipping at her neck again. Why did she have to feel so good? Not five minutes earlier, he had told himself he wouldn’t have any difficulty sharing a room, even a bed, with Miss Hale. He could control his “drive to mate” as she put it.

But that was before, when Miss Hale -- Abigail -- was at an arm’s distance. Now that she was so close and not nearly as stiff as he had expected, he found his perspective changing. And he was only rubbing his chin on her cheeks and neck. What would it feel like to part her lips and slip his tongue inside her mouth for that first sweet taste?

Under the guise of more chafing, he let their lips brush once, felt their breath mingle, and measured Miss Hale’s response. The tension in her shoulders, where he had anchored his hands, relaxed ever so slightly. Her eyelids lowered as her gaze fell to his mouth, and she kept her head tilted at just the right angle for their lips to brush again.

She’s curious, he realized. She has never been kissed.

Buy Link for A Matter of Grave Concern:

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My Review:

It's my first time to read Brenda Novak, and I know that she's known for writing suspense -- and, I think, A Matter of Grave Concern is a wonderful example of her talent: she presents the darker side of studying medicine in the early 19th century. It's becoming a booming profession, but medical schools lack the necessary materials (read: dead bodies) to teach their students effectively. Abigail's father is head of Aldersgate School of Medicine, and their situation is precarious: with dwindling funds, few students and no specimens to study -- which is why Abigail decides to take matters into her own hands and tries to procure the bodies through less-than-legal means. I like that she's flawed. I like that she had intended to "pad" the cost of their household expense to cover her tracks with regard to the bodies.

When I first met Max, I instantly disliked him -- he was very ruthless and was actually the reason why Abigail got into trouble in the first place. I honestly thought their first encounter would also be their last, but Novak had other plans for Max and Abigail. It was fascinating reading about the London Supply Company and their "business" dealings and how treacherous the London underworld was. It's amazing how Abigail was able to adapt to her circumstances because she and Max really had to think on their feet at all times. The romance that develops between our hero and heroine isn't as ardent or as dazzling as the ones I usually read in other historical romance novels, and it's a refreshing take on what a romance is: there is attraction and desire, but there's also respect and admiration that grows as Max comes to know Abigail more and vice versa.

"You want what I want," he insisted.

She turned away to wash with the pitcher and bowl. "I want what I can't have. And now, so do you."
- loc 4147

Max was looking for his missing half-sister, whose story is quite tragic. I thought Novak did a good job of developing this sub-plot, fully fleshing out Madeline's story and the urgency of Max's mission without taking the spotlight away from Max and Abigail. Madeline didn't have the same privileges as Max, and had become a mother at a young age. Like everyone else, her only dream is to find a stable situation for herself and her young son -- and she really thought she had found it already. But, then, life is life and a fairy tale is a fairy tale -- and Madeline is now missing. She's partly the reason why I kept reading this book, because I really, really wanted Max to find her and I really, really wanted for Madeline to find her happy ending.

I also did not like Abigail's father. He was an absentee parent who was more devoted to his research than his daughter -- he never thought to question where the bodies came from, and he didn't seem to care about what happened to Abigail. I kept waiting (and hoping) for him to redeem himself, but, Novak practices judiciousness in how she resolves her story. Yes, there is a happy ending, but it doesn't necessarily mean that all is right with the rest of the world.

I have to say, this is a book that grabs you from the very beginning. The heroine is spunky and refuses to take things sitting down -- and this is what actually gets her into trouble in the first place, but, what's great about Abigail is that she owns up to her mistakes and tries to rectify them. Abigail is not foolhardy or reckless, but she's caught in a situation that's bigger and more dangerous than she could imagine. Novak's London is gritty and perilous and made for a very fascinating read.

Disclosure: I received this review copy through Netgalley for the event. Thank you to Brenda Novak and Montlake for the opportunity. Yes, this is an honest review.

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About the author:

New York Times & USA Today Bestselling Author Brenda Novak is the author of more than fifty books. A four-time Rita nominee, she has won many awards, including the National Reader’s Choice, the Bookseller’s Best, the Book Buyer’s Best, the Daphne, and the Holt Medallion. She also runs an annual on-line auction for diabetes research every May at www.brendanovak.com (her youngest son has this disease). To date, she’s raised over $2 million.

For more about Brenda, please visit www.brendanovak.com.

Follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Brenda_Novak

Like me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Brenda-Novak/120794854630624

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As part of this event, Brenda will be awarding a $100 Amazon gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. To visit the rest of the blogs participating in this event, click here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Thanks for hosting! Brenda is travelling today and will have limited Internet access, but hopes to stop in during the day.

  2. I liked your review of A Matter of Grave Concern. I now have a better understanding of the premise of the book and I look forward to reading it.

    1. Thanks so much for giving it a try, Barbara! I hope you love it!

  3. I am intrigued by a woman of this time involved with finding the necessary corpses for her father's medical school. Unusual setting and one that I don't think I've read about before.

    1. It's a bit different, Dee, but I'm hoping that's a good thing. If you read the whole book, definitely let me know what you think!

  4. Good luck with the release!


  5. Thanks so much for the fabulous review. You did a great job with it, and it definitely put a smile on my face. Thanks, too, for hosting me here. I'm so sorry I couldn't post until now. As Goddess Fish mentioned above, I've been traveling--out of the country for two weeks with little or no internet. It's been crazy since I haven't been able to keep up with anything. So good to be home. But I wanted you to know that I appreciate you helping me spread the word about my new book!



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