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A Lady Awakened (Blackshear Family) Mass Market Paperback – December 27, 2011

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A Desperate Fortune
The tales of two women's lives are divided by three centuries but are remarkably similar in many other ways. See more books by Susanna Kearsley
$7.99 FREE Shipping on orders over $35. Only 5 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.

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Product Details

  • Series: Blackshear Family (Book 1)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (December 27, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553593838
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553593839
  • Product Dimensions: 4.1 x 0.9 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (138 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,022,682 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Featured Guest Review: Eloisa James on A Lady Awakened

Eloisa James holds an M.Phil. from Oxford University, a Ph.D. from Yale is currently an associate professor and head of the Creative Writing program at Fordham University in New York City. Her "double life" as an academic and a romance writer is a source of fascination to the media and her readers. In her professorial guise, she's written a New York Times op-ed defending romance, as well as articles published everywhere from women's magazines such as More to writers' journals such as the Romance Writers' Report.

Martha Russell is a proper, laced-up widow, who finds more pleasure in charitable acts than she ever did in her marriage bed. Theophilus Mirkwood is a known rake whose all-too-true reputation has basically gotten him thrown out of London.

There couldn't be a couple less likely to fall in love--which is exactly why it's so satisfying when they do. Cecilia Grant has given us an incredibly sexy and surprisingly sweet debut that hits the perfect note for a classic "opposites attract" storyline.

Like so many great romances (and maybe real-life love stories too), A Lady Awakened starts with an indecent proposal. Martha's husband just died and she needs to become pregnant immediately--yesterday!--in order to pass off her baby as the heir to the Russell estate. If she doesn't, not only will she be destitute, but the estate will be seized by her late husband's cruel, lascivious brother.

There's one problem: in order to become pregnant, she needs to go to bed with someone. Well, who better than her notorious new neighbor Theophilus? Martha doesn't expect to get any pleasure from their bargain … and at first she doesn't. But everything changes when their relationship becomes more than just physical.

There's so much I adore about this novel--from the hilariously awkward scene in which Martha propositions Theo to the immensely sensual one in which she first succumbs to pleasure. It's not just that Theo is great in bed: there are plenty of historical novels featuring heroes with remarkable skills in that area. What makes A Lady Awakened stand out is that Cecilia Grant pulls the heartstrings of a much deeper story, the tale of how both Theo and Martha change and grow together. I really loved how they transformed one another. Martha, in particular, gives Theo a sense of purpose that allows him to escape a fairly meaningless existence.

I kept thinking about these two long after finishing the last page, and I'm sure you will, too. It's the kind of romance that sticks with you. If you read only one debut this year, this is the one to read.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Desperate times call for desperate measures, and Martha Russell is a desperate woman. After her husband Richard’s unexpected death, ownership of Seton Park, her current home, will revert to the new heir, the reprehensible James Russell. Unless, that is, Martha is pregnant with Richard’s son. While Martha knows she is not pregnant, the rest of the countryside does not, which gives Martha one month to rectify the situation. Martha’s new neighbor, Theophilus Mirkwood, is rumored to have been banished to the countryside to repent his wicked life in London. All Martha has to do is convince Theo to agree to a month of discreet trysts with her, and she may wind up with the heir she desperately needs. The only problem is that Martha did not factor falling in love with Theo into her simple business proposition. Grant expertly imbues her elegantly written, emotionally powerful debut with a compelling combination of exquisitely nuanced characters and lusciously sensual romance. Sweet, poignant, and completely satisfying, A Lady Awakened is a romance to treasure. --John Charles

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Customer Reviews

A recommended read for romance lovers!
Virginia Campbell
Ms. Grant's style of writing, witty wording and well developed characters is completely engaging.
This was a book that made me smile from the beginning of it and until it ended.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

51 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Ann Elliot VINE VOICE on November 12, 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book could not have surprised me more if it had fallen from the sky and smacked me on the head.

I chose an ARC of the book and felt some regret when it arrived. The characters are not immediately likeable and the plot is morally reprehensible.

Martha, the heroine, is prudish, judgemental and a hypocrite of great magnitude who mentally condemns a congregation member for falling asleep during Sunday service, even as she is plotting to cheat a stranger of his inheritance by doing her best to become pregnant by another stranger.

Theo, the hero, is the hapless new neightbor who agrees to help Martha in her pregnancy plot. He is 26, but his maturity level is that of a 15-year-old.

Theo's sense of worth derives from his only skill--pleasing women in bed. Martha's sense of worth derives from her image as a morally upright pillar of rectitude. Their daily "exercises" in bed are doomed. He is duty bound to give her pleasure; she cannot let herself feel pleasure or she will cease to be a "good" person.

The daily bedding contains some of the most awkward, frustrating, funny, miserable sex scenes ever written.

After a chapter or two, like the moment in "Wizard of Oz" when the screen goes from black and white to color, the author's marvelous writing style kicks in and the story is transformed. Every word is chosen with care to make the tale feel authentic and often to make the reader smile. Even Martha is careful about word choice as she constantly stumbles onto double entendres and corrects herself.

The characters, like real people, are much more than they seem on the surface. They have faults, strengths, childhood difficulties to overcome and opportunities for growth.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By OLT TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 9, 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
When you set down on paper the plot to this HR, it doesn't look all that appealing and might even seem offensive to some persons' sensibilities. Newly-widowed Martha Russell wants to retain control of her late husband's estate and can only do so by producing an heir within the appropriate number of months of her first year of mourning. Unfortunately, she was not pregnant when her husband died. What to do? Hire the stud services of newly-arrived neighbor Theo Mirkwood, whose father has exiled him to their nearby Pencarragh estate as punishment for his wayward ways. She has one month to conceive or it's off to live with her brother and his wife and her brother-in-law will come to take over the Russell property.

Well, she's not as mercenary as that sounds. Said brother-in-law is not a good person. He seduces helpless women, wastes money, neglects his wife, and would care not at all about the welfare and education of the tenants at the estate or even about the condition of the estate itself. Martha wants desperately to protect those people who have been relying on her during her time as mistress of the Russell property.

Since there's a deadline for getting pregnant, we have sex scenes early on in the book, but it's business-arrangement sex for a good part of the story. Martha is bound and determined not to have any pleasure in their encounters and encourages Theo to just do it and get it over with every time they have sex. No dawdling around with unnecessary kissing and foreplay. Enjoying the experience would only add to the guilt she's already feeling about what she is doing.

Well, the rest you just have to read. Theo isn't into necrophilia so he's working towards getting some response from her in bed, while she is blocking his attempts at all cost.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Joy-read on January 4, 2013
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Adult Content: Explicit sex, oral sex, some F-bombs, a few instances of religious profanity. Just enough strong language to lend realism, but not enough to seem gratuitous or irritating. A few typos.

★ A Lady Awakened ★ is book 1 of the Blackshear Family series. The writing style is witty and light (I chuckled several times), balanced by sad, painful, or poignant sections. The plot includes several heartwarming story lines. The romance includes a LOT of sex, progressing from cold, quick sex to blast-furnace love scenes. ツ

Spoiler-Free review -- key points are vague. Quotes are surrounded by ♥.

The setting is Regency England, about 1815, in a rural neighborhood near Brighton by the Sea, in Sussex County. (The author did not vividly capture the pastoral setting -- it's not particularly descriptive, but it's okay.).

Martha Russell, née Blackshear, is bound by duty, conscience and reason, but unbeknownst to her, she's also a woman of strong passions with mutiny burning in her belly. (The author does a magnificent job showing the metamorphosis of Martha, from a passionless prude to a passionate lover.) She is good looking, with shining dark eyes and long, honey-brown hair (but Grant does not belabor her physical traits). Mrs. Russell is only 21, newly widowed after 10 months of marriage.

Theophilis Mirkwood (Theo) is heir to a baronetcy, sexy as they come and 26 years old. He is tall and well formed, with dark blue eyes and pale golden hair. This London playboy has been banished to Pencarragh (one of his father's estates) to learn agriculture and farm management from Mr. Granville. I loved Grant's development of Theo's character, from devil-may-care playboy to beloved champion of laborers and tenants.
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More About the Author

Cecilia Grant makes her home in the Pacific Northwest. She likes semicolons, chocolate-covered raisins, and historical sites with costumed reenactors. Her books have earned starred reviews from Booklist and Library Journal, Seal of Excellence and Reviewer's Choice awards from RT Reviews Magazine, and Desert Isle Keeper designation from All About Romance.

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