Enlightenment: Provoked – Joanna Chambers
This is a second edition of a book previously published by Samhain Publishing.
Tormented by his forbidden desires for other men and the painful memories of the childhood friend he once loved, lawyer David Lauriston tries to maintain a celibate existence while he forges his reputation in Edinburgh’s privileged legal world.
But then, into his repressed and orderly life, bursts Lord Murdo Balfour.
Cynical, hedonistic and utterly unapologetic, Murdo could not be less like David. And as appalled as David is by Murdo’s unrepentant self-interest, he cannot resist the man’s sway. Murdo tempts and provokes David in equal measure, forcing him to acknowledge his physical desires.
But Murdo is not the only man distracting David from his work. Euan MacLennan, the brother of a convicted radical David once represented, approaches David to beg him for help. Euan is searching for the government agent who sent his brother to Australia on a convict ship, and other radicals to the gallows. Despite knowing it may damage his career, David cannot turn Euan away.
As their search progresses, it begins to look as though the trail may lead to none other than Lord Murdo Balfour, and David has to wonder whether it’s possible Murdo could be more than he seems. Is he really just a bored aristocrat, amusing himself at David’s expense, or could he be the agent provocateur responsible for the fate of Peter MacLennan and the other radicals?
Joanna Chambers is one of the names that keeps popping up on my GR recs since I started reading MM so I had high expectations. Provoked is my first book from her. Sadly, I was underwhelmed. The book was written in the POV of David Lauriston which would have been ok had the whole narrative not felt one-sided. The other main character Murdo Balfour seemed like a faceless, featureless, one-dimensional entity. I don’t know anything about him saved that he seems like a jerk and an unlikable jerk at that. His gestures towards David would have been better appreciated had I known what was going on in his head so I think the story could have greatly benefited from a dual POV. If the author meant for Balfour to be an enigmatic character oozing with mystery, I’m sorry he was just not intriguing enough for me.
What was more interesting for me was Euan MacLennan and David working together and I think it would have been more compelling if it was a struggling lawyer/poor student romance but since this is historical romance, of course the MC had to fall in love with a lord. The rest of the plot was about finding this double agent Lees and it wasn’t as riveting as it was intended to be. The writing was pretty straightforward and flat. There was none of the sharp wit, sarcasm or humorous banter that I had come to expect from great historical reads.
This is the first book of the Enlightenment series and the conclusion was open ended. I don’t know if this is just the first book syndrome, meaning the first book is usually mediocre then it gets better with the succeeding ones but I’m not really excited to pick up the rest of the series. Still, it’s not a terrible book per se but it could have been better.
3 Stars – not exactly setting my world on fire but I liked it
Soundtrack: Lover, I Don’t Have to Love
Artist: Bright Eyes
Album: The Story is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground