I am shocked how easily I was pulled into this quiet, explorative and emotional story because I usually prefer my historical romance to be buoyant and quippy. This is a fave on Historical Romance Reddit so I gave it a shot..
At 21-years old, Martha Russel has become a widow. To keep her estate from her villainous brother-in-law she comes up with a scheme to produce an illegitimate heir with the help of Theophilus Mirkwood, the young rogue next door.
Theo is a spoiled 26-year-old party boy who has been banished to the Sussex countryside. He’s petulant and bored until Martha pulls her into his scheme. She has 30 days to get pregnant and over the course of the month he becomes endeared to the cold young widow and discovers a passion for country living.
Because Martha and Theo spend much of the book trying to concieve a child– most of the sex scenes in this book (while expressly consensual) are not meant to be titillating. I think that is sort of bold move for a romance novel.
Grant’s writing is gradual and down-to-earth. The plot moves along leisurely and it reminded me lot of Mary Blagoh (who blurbed this book). I have NEVER been able to get through a Mary Blagoh because of her quiet contemplative writing , but somehow Grant does it and make it work for me. Maybe it was the bonkers plot that kept me going ? I had no idea how this scheme could lead to an HEA. I will say Grant manages to pulls it off in a convincing way.
Theo is a relatively young hero. I like when historical MMCs are allowed to be vulnerable and messy. This man is literally falling asleep in church.
I was also a fan of the soft pastoral setting (Get me as far away from a ballroom as possible !).
A Lady Awakened is an enthralling historical romance that makes bold choices and features unlikely characters.
This is book one in a series but I don’t think they are closely related at all. There appears to be little character crossover. I kept getting the feeling the vicar was being set up for his own story but that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Cecilia Grant seems to have only written 4 books. I’m curious about what happened to her or if she is writing another different name.