Series: Blackshear Family #1
Author: Cecilia Grant
Pages: 346 (Mass Market Paperback)
Publisher: Bantam Dell
Release Date: December 27, 2011
Purchase: Amazon•TBD (affiliate link)
Newly widowed and desperate to protect her estate and beloved servants from her malevolent brother-in-law, Martha Russell conceives a daring plan. Or rather, a daring plan to conceive. After all, if she has an heir on the way, her future will be secured. Forsaking all she knows of propriety, Martha approaches her neighbor, a London exile with a wicked reputation, and offers a strictly business proposition: a month of illicit interludes . . . for a fee.
Theophilus Mirkwood ought to be insulted. Should be appalled. But how can he resist this siren in widow’s weeds, whose offer is simply too outrageously tempting to decline? Determined she’ll get her money’s worth, Theo endeavors to awaken this shamefully neglected beauty to the pleasures of the flesh—only to find her dead set against taking any enjoyment in the scandalous bargain. Surely she can’t resist him forever. But could a lady’s sweet surrender open their hearts to the most unexpected arrival of all . . . love?
A Lady Awakened has a pretty interesting premise. Martha is newly widowed and about to be thrown out of her house. She and her late husband had no children, particularly no heir, so his estranged brother shall inherit. Well, Martha isn’t about to let that happen, especially when she learns that the brother is a rapist. She’s been given a month to make sure that she’s not pregnant before moving out. She’s not, but she comes up with a plan to quickly conceive. Scandalous, but ultimately super boring and at one point 100% infuriating.
A Lady Awakened started out slow and strange. Martha has zero emotions and her personality is comparable to a robot. Not a cool robot. Just a standard robot with a few pre-programmed responses, which are repeated constantly. Her neighbor, Theo, has been sent to the country by his father to teach him responsibility. He has no money out there and no fun, so he’s quick to accept Martha’s proposal to knock her up. However, he quickly learns that she doesn’t want pleasure. At all. None. Just a wham, bam, thank you ma’am! Their sex scenes are not sexy in the slightest, obviously, but they’re also not awkward. At least not awkward in a good way which develops into sexy. They’re just completely unsexy and mechanical and honestly, painful to read.
Where A Lady Awakened completely lost me was in the middle. Theo and Martha just had more boring, unsexy, mechanical sex, and have gone to sleep. Well, he wakes up with a hard on and decides he’ll go for round two even though he thinks she’s asleep. She’s not, and he’s all “Can’t you just sleep through it?” Are you freaking kidding me right now?! That is super gross and not okay! And this is immediately following him learning that she doesn’t like sex (or alcohol) because her father would sneak into her bed at night. I can’t even with that. I had to put the book down and step away to process that. None of that is okay on any level! He’s starting to have sex with her without her consent, which is bad enough. But he knows that that’s what her father use to do! That is sickening! And it’s never brought up or addressed at all after that. They just go back to their unsexy, mechanical sex.
My other problem with A Lady Awakened was Martha’s lack of personality. I suppose you could argue, that standoffish and unfeeling are her main personality traits, but she really did read like a robot. All she talks about is starting this school for her tenants’ children, which is all well and good, but she has no passion for it. It’s just something she’s doing because. She really gives no personal reason as to why she’s so adamant about starting it. Yes, education is good, and it’s a good thing for her to do, but why? I don’t believe in that level of selflessness. She also goes about this whole getting knocked up plan without an ounce of emotion. She talks about the possibility of conceiving like reporting on what she had for breakfast and then says if she has a girl she’ll just trade it in for a boy. What?! She says this with a straight face, like it’s totally normal.
As for the actual romance….what romance? Theo is the one to say I love you during a fit of passion during their boring, unsexy, mechanical sex. She says nothing because feelings are for peasants, and continues to talk about cows and her school. There’s no identifiable moment for either of them for actually falling in love. He just blurts it out and that’s that. She never admits her feelings for him at all. And in fact she simply tells her brother that she loves him on the second to last page. Not to Theo, to her brother. Yes, their romance is completely non-existent.
Clearly, A Lady Awakened was a total bust. There’s no romance to speak of. There’s no personalities to speak of. The external plot was super boring, with Theo and Martha just sitting around and talking about farming and land management. The sex was a chore to read through, and let’s not even go back to that non-consent scene. Just, ew.