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A Gentleman Undone by Cecilia Grant

A Gentleman Undone

by Cecilia Grant

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3.5/4 stars

A Gentleman Undone, is a tantalizing and entertaining second installment in the Blackshear Family Series by talented new author, Cecilia Grant. The story and its main characters are sophisticated, intelligent and sublimely sensual.

Will is a complex and troubled hero. He's uneasy and burdened by dark secrets and deathbed promises. He feels unfit for polite society and has "lost all ability to enjoy himself carelessly". Will has "accounts to square, solemn trusts to keep, atonement of a sort to perform" before he can turn his thoughts to "the pursuit of pleasure." Immersed in his own darkness, Will doesn't realize that he, still, is the best of men. He has a pure steady goodness with the capacity to forgive and love unconditionally. He defends the weak, seeks to protect those he cares for and strives to right every wrong.

Lydia is an extremely likeable heroine. She is unconventional and inspiring. A former prostitute before being plucked as a mistress, she describes her circumstance as: "Abandoned. Orphaned. Left barren. Tired and forelorn and long past rescue." From such bleakness Lydia has emerged heart hardened and defiant. She's determined, ruthless, clever and daring. She has a plan to gain financial independence, and she needs Will's help to achieve that end.

Will feels an immediate awareness and electrifying attraction to Lydia. She dazzles and staggers him. He finds her to be striking, unique and challenging. She enlivens Will's spirit and awakens his body with a visceral carnal lust he never thought he'd feel again. He longs to bed her and tells her so, but holds his ardor in check. He vows to earn her trust before allowing anything physical to happen between them.

Lydia is no "blushing virgin" She's refreshingly assertive and shamelessly sensual. Lydia boldly states that she'll have Will "begging for mercy and begging for more." She knows what she wants and commands it from her lover.

Wildly attracted but emotionally scarred, Lydia confesses that she has no love left to give. Yet, Will still wants more from her. He dares to care for her and seeks to save her. Lydia doesn't want his heroics and chivalry and becomes increasingly annoyed with Will's "obstinate refusal" to put his erections to good use. But when he does.... It's crazy hot. He's so gloriously sexy! Will speaks with a depth of longing both plain and raw. His skills in the bedroom are masterful, expressive and lavishing. Will worships Lydia's body, mind and soul. Lydia meets his desire with "a coarse, impatient.. hunger." (I LOVE that description) The sex is overflowing with passion. Lydia is insatiable, all temper and fury. Will is strength and heart. He's a magnificent, sensual stallion. ( )
  TheLustyLiterate | Nov 1, 2013 |
Will Blackshear survived the horror of Waterloo, haunted by his promise to a dying compatriot. A younger son with no inheritance and no fortune of his own, Will turns to the gaming tables to win money to provide for the widow and child of his dead comrade. Moderately successful, he becomes "A Gentleman Undone" when the mistress of a fellow gambler easily routs him at cards and takes the table's money pot. Will is quite unsettled by this woman, Lydia Slaughter, who sits stoically while the men at the table, including her benefactor, Edward Roanoke, casually discuss her most intimate matters. He is even more disturbed when he witnesses Lydia and Edward in a sexual embrace in the library of the gaming house. When Will offers Lydia a kind gesture in a time of need, she repays him at the gaming tables by allowing him to regain his previous loss, and then some. Will is fascinated by her skill and mysterious mien, and he is attracted by her unusual, unconventional beauty. Lydia tries her best not to drawn to Will's broad, muscular shoulders and smoky-coal eyes, and even more so, not to be affected by the hint of naughtiness behind his gentleman's manners. Both have a need for Fate and Fortune to favor them. She desperately wants to escape the life of a courtesan, and he wants enough money to ease his conscience over his friend's death and to become the business partner of another former soldier. Lydia and Will form a partnership of their own, taking great risk in order to gain what each is seeking. But as time passes, and they grow closer as they put their plan into play, will the greatest risk of all be their own hearts? "A Gentleman Undone" is an intriguing, surprising, and compelling historical romance from author Cecilia Grant.

Review Copy Gratis Bantam Books ( )
  gincam | Sep 29, 2013 |
Technically, this book is better than my rating would indicate, but I'm basing the rating on how much I enjoyed reading it. And I did not enjoy it much. It's awfully dark; even the HEA is not all that H.

Cecilia Grant is a very talented writer, and I thoroughly enjoyed [b:A Lady Awakened|11938752|A Lady Awakened (Blackshear Family, #1)|Cecilia Grant|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1320538233s/11938752.jpg|16839861]. This book, however, just didn't work for me. ( )
  LadyWesley | Sep 25, 2013 |
I find myself unable to write a proper review because I find myself unable to consider [b:A Gentleman Undone|12769479|A Gentleman Undone (Blackshear Family, #2)|Cecilia Grant|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1321933178s/12769479.jpg|17913980] in isolation. To me, it's like a mirror image or companion piece to Cecilia Grant's debut, [b:A Lady Awakened|11938752|A Lady Awakened (Blackshear Family, #1)|Cecilia Grant|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1343277852s/11938752.jpg|16839861].

A GENTLEMAN UNDONE is about an emotionally scarred Waterloo veteran, Will Blackshear, who falls in love with an emotionally blighted courtesan, Lydia Slaughter. Lydia has no interest in love or the communion of souls - but she unabashedly loves sex. Will is amazed and delighted by her lack of shame, but finds it punishing as well. He offers her his heart; in return, she gives him a BJ. Feels good, but no warm fuzzies.

A LADY AWAKENED is about an upright widow, Martha, who has no use for earthly delights. She cares about the intangibles: virtue, charity, religion. She has negative interest in sex. She positively breaks the hero of the novel, Theo, by remaining immune to his sexual mojo.

So there are these seemingly opposite characters -- hypersexual Lydia vs hypermoral Martha -- who actually resemble one another quite a bit. Lydia survives her fall from grace into a whorehouse by becoming stronger, emotionally self-sufficient, and planning for independence. Martha survives a brief but painful marriage by becoming stronger, emotionally self-sufficient, and planning for independence (widowhood).

Both heroines respond to straightforward attempts to change them, or otherwise divert them away from their fixed, exhaustively planned paths with extreme prejudice. But both women need to change; both are being eaten alive by the strengths that sustain them. And in both books, the hero accomplishes the necessary persuasion through the gentlest of means: acceptance and admiration. Also by being kind and trustworthy and non-threatening, allowing the heroines to let down their guards, to relax, to grow.

For all those similarities (and they are significant, aren't they?) the stories are profoundly different. And they're different because they're driven by contradictory attitudes about sex. The early sex scenes in A LADY AWAKENED are painful and awkward because Martha refuses to enjoy herself. The early sex scenes in A GENTLEMAN UNDONE are uncomfortable and dirty because...well, because Lydia likes it that way.

Taken singly but especially together, Cecilia Grant seems to be arguing that romance is the combination of sex and love. Which...not that radical, I guess? But stated strongly and with vivid examples. Lydia talks about sex in really destructive terms - laying waste, destroying, obliterating. She loves sex. She's enthusiastic about it. But her relentless enthusiasm is killing her from the inside out. She needs sex with love. Martha, for her part, imagines love as pure, holy, a kind of earthly devotion akin to religion. But her relationship with Theo won't work - won't satisfy either of them - until they figure out how to burn up the sheets.

I think Cecilia Grant is amazing but I also think she's probably best appreciated by a seasoned romance reader. She tells a good story, she writes some hot sex, the writing is divine but what interests me the most is how the books seem to comment on the genre as a whole, its trends and evolution. These books could be a case study in why it's important to open the bedroom door in romances, why it's worthwhile to describe sex in such explicit detail, for example.

A few quick notes on the plot of A GENTLEMAN UNDONE. I didn't like it quite as much as A LADY AWAKENED, though to be fair I thought A LADY AWAKENED was damn near perfect. A few quibbles: gorgeous as the writing is, I totally skimmed all the card counting stuff. A major plot point involves Will doing something I found completely tasteless, and although he makes up for it really well, I liked him less for it. Lastly, so much of the book is about Will accepting Lydia exactly as she is that I was disappointed when, at the end, Lydia expends a lot of energy trying to convince Will to do something contrary to his nature She shouldn't have tried to stop him from having the duel, in my opinion.
( )
  MlleEhreen | Apr 3, 2013 |
What bravery it must have taken Grant to write this story in the face of the overpowering mountain of romance tropes. Lydia is a tough, tough cookie, at times repelling but always interesting and dark. Will is such a sweetie, although he can be a bit angsty and annoying with his constant moral dilemmas. This book definitely had a modernist tone and I almost felt like it should have taken place in the late victorian period or something rather than the regency. At any rate Grant overturns and redefines the tropes of the pollyana prostitute (a la mary balogh) and the "virgin prostitute" rather interestingly and with a lot of nuance. I liked that Will wasnt rich and all powerful but still adorable all the same. In all, for me it just can't compare to the a lady awakened because it lacked the humor that mr. mirkwood's character brought to that book. Here you have two dark angsty souls who have to deal with a lot of pain to find THEIR happily ever after which totally goes against the grain of the formulaic romance novel endings which I have seen in every single other one I have read. ( )
  RubyA | Mar 29, 2013 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0553593846, Mass Market Paperback)

A seductive beauty turns the tables on a gentleman gaming for the guiltiest of pleasures in this rich and sensual Regency romance from beloved newcomer Cecilia Grant.
Lydia Slaughter understands the games men play—both in and out of the bedroom. Not afraid to bend the rules to suit her needs, she fleeces Will Blackshear outright. The Waterloo hero had his own daring agenda for the gaming tables of London’s gentlemen’s clubs. But now he antes up for a wager of wits and desire with Lydia, the streetwise temptress who keeps him at arm’s length.
A kept woman in desperate straits, Lydia has a sharp mind and a head for numbers. She gambles on the sly, hoping to win enough to claim her independence. An alliance with Will at the tables may be a winning proposition for them both. But the arrangement involves dicey odds with rising stakes, sweetened with unspoken promise of fleshly delights. And any sleight of hand could find their hearts betting on something neither can afford to risk: love.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:46:43 -0400)

A kept woman in dire straits, Lydia, who has a sharp mind and a head for numbers, secretly gambles in hopes of winning her independence, but when she forms an alliance with Will Blackshear, who has his own daring agenda, all bets are off as passion flares between them.… (more)

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