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
Seducing the Sedgewicks: It Takes Two to Tumble – Cat Sebastian
Some of Ben Sedgwick’s favorite things:
Helping his poor parishioners
Shamelessly flirting with the handsome Captain Phillip Dacre
After an unconventional upbringing, Ben is perfectly content with the quiet, predictable life of a country vicar, free of strife or turmoil. When he’s asked to look after an absent naval captain’s three wild children, he reluctantly agrees, but instantly falls for the hellions. And when their stern but gloriously handsome father arrives, Ben is tempted in ways that make him doubt everything.
Some of Phillip Dacre’s favorite things:
People doing precisely as they’re told
Touching the irresistible vicar at every opportunity
Phillip can’t wait to leave England’s shores and be back on his ship, away from the grief that haunts him. But his children have driven off a succession of governesses and tutors and he must set things right. The unexpected presence of the cheerful, adorable vicar sets his world on its head and now he can’t seem to live without Ben’s winning smiles or devastating kisses.
In the midst of runaway children, a plot to blackmail Ben’s family, and torturous nights of pleasure, Ben and Phillip must decide if a safe life is worth losing the one thing that makes them come alive.
By now, people had already written many glowing reviews about the story of walking ray of sunshine Ben Sedgwick, also known as vicar of St. Aelred’s and the grumpy Captain Phillip Dacre, father of three incorrigible children. Borrowing some ideas from the Sound of Music, this book is as warm as the musical and as bright and happy as summer.
Everybody in this book, from the children, Ned, Jamie and Peggy, to the cook, Mrs. Morris, to the supposed villain Easterbrook were all well-rounded, likable characters.
Ben being a man of the cloth, the author could have gone the angsty religion vs sexuality route. Fortunately it was not the focus but it was still touched upon in a very sensible way. The writing was in that smooth, upbeat Cat Sebastian style with liberal touches of cute and fluff all over it. However, I think the ending was a bit abrupt and needs an epilogue. They have only been together for the duration of summer and it would have been great if we could see their life together in the coming seasons (maybe in the coming books? Book two is Hartley, Ben’s younger brother.). Overall, one of the best historical romance this year and a great start to a new series.
4.5 – perfection is only half a step away
Like a Gentleman – Eliot Grayson
James Rowley, penniless younger brother of an earl, discovers his rejected sensational story has been stolen and printed under another name — and he’s certain his editor is the guilty party. Determined to get his due, he sets out for London to take revenge on the perfidious L. Wells. He means to have satisfaction, even if he needs to pose as a simpering fop in a pink waistcoat to get it.
Two years before, intrigued by his favorite writer’s talent and wit, Leo Wells had visited the Rowley estate incognito, seen James’s portrait — and promptly lost what was left of his heart. Ever since, Leo has fought his obsession with his favorite writer. Unaware of the manuscript’s theft, he’s bewildered and heartbroken when James, acting the part of a sneering dandy, visits him in person only to use his obvious attraction against him.
From Gloucestershire to London to Portsmouth, can two men with society and secrets dividing them find happiness?
This is such a delightful little Regency romance debut by Eliot Grayson. Short as it is, it felt complete with all the ingredients that makes it a good historical read. Both MCs are likable and their attraction to each other was believable. The writing is in that distinct British style that I like. There seems to be hints for another book about Rowley’s friend. I’m looking forward to that.
3.5 Stars – that place between like and love
A Society of Gentlemen: A Private Miscellany – K.J. Charles
A short (7.5K words) free coda to the Society of Gentlemen series, catching up on the main characters a year and a half later.
Available through subscription to the author’s newsletter
Portrait with Fox!!! Somebody make a fanart of that quick!
4 Stars – minor quibbles but I loved it to bits