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A Lady Awakened

(Blackshear Family #1)

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  4,347 ratings  ·  744 reviews
In Cecilia Grant’s emotionally rich and deeply passionate Regency romance debut, a deal with a rumored rogue turns a proper young woman into . . . A Lady Awakened.

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 he
Paperback, 346 pages
Published December 27th 2011 by Bantam (first published January 1st 2011)
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Average rating 3.69  · 
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 ·  4,347 ratings  ·  744 reviews

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Sarah Mac
Good grief. This was just...I don't even know. Excuse me while I lick my wounds.


MARTHA: I am prim & proper & devoid of emotion. I have successfully smothered Feelz since I was a child. Feelz are good for nothing. Feelz have no place in life.
LAWYER: So, hey. There's a problem with your husband's will.
MARTHA: It had better not demand Feelz.
LAWYER: No, it's demanding your departure from this house.
MARTHA: Oh, that's right. My marriage sucked from day one, but I never told anyone. Talk

4.5 stars


"I understand you to have just proposed to engage me as your whore." He gave one last cough. "Is that correct?"

Disapproval thinned her lips again. "The better analogy is to a stud animal. My concern is only with the issue. I have no expectation of pleasure."

For Martha Russell her ten month marriage was both unfulfilling and unfruitful. Without an heir her estate will be given over to her late husband's brother, a man whose past crimes against servants has gone unpunish/>"I/>
Jane Stewart
Nov 18, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: regency-romance
My mind kept wandering. It did not hold my interest. I did not enjoy the rigid heroine with no emotional interactions.

Martha did not marry for love. She married to avoid being dependent on her brother. Her husband died ten months later from a horse accident. She learns that her brother-in-law James will inherit the estate and that he molested female servants when he lived there 16 years ago. She believes it is her duty to keep James away from the estate in order to
I don't think I've ever read a romance novel like this, which should be a recommendation in itself, seeing as so many of them follow one of the "standard" plots. You know the sort of thing - hero and heroine hate each other on sight but gradually fall in love; hero/heroine has to marry money to restore the family fortunes and gradually fall in love, etc.

The gradual falling in love bit DOES happen, but it's done in such an original manner. The heroine is a widow who wants desperately

★ Thanks to Jill for recommending this début novel. I closed the book with a deeply satisfied sigh, but at first I totally disliked the heroine. It's not to everyone's taste.

A Lady Awakened is book 1 of the Blackshear Family series. The writing style is witty and light (I chuckled several times), balanced by sad, painful, or poignant sections. The plot includes several heartwarming story lines. The romance includes a LOT of sex, progressing from cold, quick sex to blast-furnace love scenes. ツ
No l
Reading this made me realize that one of my favorite things to happen in a historical romance is for the main characters to be forced together in an unusual way that unexpectedly fosters true intimacy. In A Lady Awakened, what initially brings Theo and Martha together is sex -- unwanted, unpleasant sex. Martha, a proper lady to her very core, feels forced to rent her feckless neighbor Theo’s services as a stud so that she can quickly produce an heir, and save her late husband’s estate from going to a man known for ...more
Mar 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: hawt-sex
In my idle hours, and in my less idle ones, I spend more time than is reasonable pondering the following questions: what’s my favourite romance novel? If I was sent to a desert island and could only take one with me, which would it be? The answer usually changes with my mood. But my God, Cecilia Grant’s magnificent ‘A Lady Awakened’ wins out very, very frequently. Because, to me, it is perfection.

When people roll their eyes on finding out I read romance and are all: ‘bodice rippers!’ ‘members!’
♡Karlyn P♡
4.5! I've been hearing this author mentioned a lot lately, and now I know why. This historical romance is easily on par with some of the best authors of this genre - Balogh, Quinn, Kleypas...etc.

I think the one thing I enjoyed most about this story is how I got to see the romance evolve from a cold and simple business association to a deeply warm and passionate friendship all the way to a heart stopping love. Both characters evolve emotionally as well, when they realize the circumsta
Al George
Jul 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Nothing Traditional About This...ok maybe a few things

Look, let me start by saying, there was NOTHING about either the hero or heroine that made me swoon. Never. Ok, there was that one scene...but back to the review...I cannot say enough about this book. For once, we get a romance that has sex that's well, so not perfect. And a relationship that's well, so not perfect. I don't even know where to begin other than to say, this ain't yo mamma's regency romance.

Hero - meh, the name. I can't get
Duchess Nicole

I wanted to love it but didn't :( I felt a disconnect with the heroine for most of the book, and I'm not sure what it was that held me back from her. She's a bit introverted, socially awkward, straight-laced and frumpy, and I tend to like that type of heroine, especially when she's paired with the quintessential rake. And I did like watching her sort of come out of her shell, I just think it took her too long to do so. By the time she's personable, the book is ending, and I felt like I didn't ge
Jul 11, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: romance, regency
This book has the novelty of having two likable people, full of goodwill, who both act in a mature way, and fall in love with each other. I actually have a lot of good thoughts for it because of that. It’s also well written.

On the other hand though, I thought it was kind of dull.

The basic story is about a young widow, Martha, who will be left with little money if she does not have a son. Her late husband has left the house and estate to his lecherous brother-in-law who is known for
Jun 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: HR fans!
Shelves: historical
Historical romance A Lady Awakened breaks ground in a genre infamously frivolous and milkshake frothy (thank you, Georgette Heyer). Cecilia Grant injects maturity into Heyer's legacy- that sounds envelope-stuffing boring. Don't picture a sober, didactic tale. Grant writes subtle humor and surprising heat, often together at once, but she doesn't idolize the idle aristocrat, the party-hopping, tea-sipping, walking in-your-face to anyone who's had to work for a living.

You wouldn't know that straightaway. Theo Mi
Oct 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: perfect, 5-stars, hr
I must admit, this book is one of the weirdest I've read lately. It has the push-all-the-wrong-buttons features, and yet, I loved every bit of it. If you want a different take on Historical Romances, different approaches, this one may be something for you. You're in for a treat.

The wrong buttons?
- A yuck-worthy plot. Heroine's husband dies, she needs to produce an heir in order to keep the estate, etc. She'll pay hero money for one month of sex. And everything goes eeewwww. But the execution. Oh wow! Nothing was as expected.
Jul 10, 2015 rated it did not like it
A Lady Awakened was my first Cecilia Grant book and most probably my last. To put it bluntly, this was just mediocre at best, and painfully boring at worst.

I have three main issues with it:

First, the writing style was verbose and confusing. I was surprised to find it reminiscent of the stream of consciousness style of narration, which, for me, would be a very odd style to employ in writing a romance novel. I think this was the first time I encountered this in Romancelandia. I don't know what effect it was supposed to have, but it did notit:
Joanna Loves Reading
This book is certainly unique. I am not quite sure what to think of it. The comparison I keep coming back to is it's the Chevy Chase movie of HR. It started with many awkward funny moments that primarily took place in the bedroom, and I was amused, laughing out loud at times. Then the joke went on too long, and I got bored and annoyed. It probably does not help that I am not a fan of comedy of errors where the MC(s) are almost solely to blame for their misfortune. I have a fairly sizable dislike ...more
Jan 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
Here is the wonderful premise of this: A recently widowed Martha Russell will lose her estate and her much valued independence unless she proves she is carrying an heir to her late husband. Only she isn’t. Therefore she needs to get pregnant fast.
Enter Theo Mirkwood, an exiled good-for-nothing playboy. Martha decides to strike a deal with him - he is going to fornicate with her every day for a month and she is going to pay him a certain amount of money. It seems like the book will just be a lon
Review written June 29, 2017

4 1/2 Stars - A great historical with a bit different touch and feeling. Terrific audio narration as well.

A Lady Awakened (a very clever and fitting title) is the first #1 in the HR series Blackshear Family (ones recommended by my friend Sofia) by Cecilia Grant. A romances author new for me.

This was a good one — My big applause
I was listening to the 12:39 hours audiobook very well with lot of feeling narrated by Susan Ericksen. Twelve perfect good audiobook listening hours. Recommended!


« Martha Russell is a proper, laced-up wid2017
Sam (AMNReader)
I'm really not sure how to review this book between a cold, upstanding widow and a charismatic land management student, but I will say that it in its everyday approach to intimacy it really did wow me. There's this scene, when fondness of the part of the hero was building, that made my heart kick just right.

And here's a heroine I admire, working to do the right thing the only way she can. This book did not rely on sex, but a genuine friendship between the two main characters. Conversely, sex on
Alexis Hall
I read Cecilia Grant's A Lady Awakened not so much over Christmas as on Christmas, ignoring my partner’s family, the Queen’s speech, and even Toy Story 3 to finish reading it. Because it’s honestly that good. I think it’s unavoidable to make more of the things you read at the end of the year compared to the beginning, but A Lady Awakened simply has to stand has one of the most original, intriguing and tiny-mind-blowing books I read in 2013.

The book opens with the heroine, Martha Russ
It’s not often I get a case of hero pity, but I have a serious case now. Our charming reprobate and all around really nice guy is propositioned by the very recent widow to bed her in order to impregnate her so she can, hopefully, gain control of her husband’s estate. More nice guy evidence: he takes food and gifts to his workers and is horrified and literally sickened when one of the mothers thinks he is there to seduce her slow daughter.

It’s an uphill battle as the widow simply lays
Dec 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
When you set down on paper the plot to this HR, it doesn't look all that appealing and might even seem offensive to some persons' sensibilities. Newly-widowed Martha Russell wants to retain control of her late husband's estate and can only do so by producing an heir within the appropriate number of months of her first year of mourning. Unfortunately, she was not pregnant when her husband died. What to do? Hire the stud services of newly-arrived neighbor Theo Mirkwood, whose father has exiled him ...more
Aug 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I first saw this one on NPR's 100 Swoon-Worthy Romances list last summer when I was just beginning to read HR. The premise sounded a bit silly to me then, and honestly still did a bit when I started this a few days ago. Martha is made a widow in circumstances that will leave her with hardly anything to live on, forcing her to be dependent on her brother unless she were to produce an heir from her late husband. (Which she already knows to be impossible.) She finds out that her late husband's brot ...more
Mary B.
I enjoyed parts of this, but disliked others.

Theo is a man who has been sent to his family's country estate in Sussex to 'reform' in a sense. For the most part, he is unremarkable. I read him as a character who has a serious lack of self-esteem, although he generally puts up a good front of confidence.

Martha is a recent widow who cares very deeply about the humanity of all people, which the author portrays in her selfless care and concern for the education and well-being of her servants, tenan
It took me a bit to get used to CG's style of writing, but eventually the story caught me. It took me most of the book to warm up to Martha, but loved Theo from the start.
Miranda Davis
Dec 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Miranda by: Jill, Mary
Masterful. Lapidary precision in creating the two main characters. Spare, evocative language, though one must become accustomed to it. Each is profoundly affected by the other in a situation utterly antithetical to anything either would've ever sought under normal circumstances. She's a strictly proper widow who needs a pregnancy pronto to forestall a predatory brother-in-law from inheriting the estate. He's a baronet's heir who is exiled to the country to mend his ways and who considers sex his ...more
May 11, 2014 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: masochists ;P
Recommended to Steelwhisper by: Sofia
Short review:

I don't like heroines who're man-haters. Such an obnoxious, skeevy woman!

Long review:

Someone appears to have watched too much "Whitechapel" and "Downton Abbey" without truly understanding it.

The author's voice was so dry and laboriously stuffy I had trouble reading it at all. If that was an attempt at making the heroine unlikeable it was a full succes
Lady Wesley
I just happened to notice that I never got around to writing a review of this remarkable debut novel. I have since read the two sequesl, A Gentleman Undone and A Woman Entangled, and am blown away by what a talented author Cecilia Grant is. If you want to read serious, deeply moving stories with complex characters -- and no outings to Vauxhall Gardens or balls or house parties -- then I highly recommend all three books.
Nov 17, 2011 rated it liked it
Goodreads Giveaway win. Looking forward to receiving this book in the mail. I always enjoy the opportunity of discovering a new author.
3.5 stars. I must say I found the first half of this book slow going. It was hard to connect with the lead characters, especially the heroine. As I neared the mid-way point, the writing flowed and I found myself enjoying the story.
I certainly look forward to more from this promising author.
Carol Cork *Young at Heart Oldie*
This was Cecilia’s Grant’s debut novel in 2011 and it has to be one of the most unconventional Historical Romances I have read. While the premise bears similarities to other books I have read, it is Ms Grant’s unique voice and wonderfully flawed and interesting characters that make this book exceptional.

When Martha Russell’s husband is killed in a riding accident, she knows that, as a childless widow, Seton Park will pass to her late husband’s brother, James Russell. With very little means of supporting herself
Apr 25, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical, regency
3 to 3.5 stars. I liked but didn't love this book. I understand it was Ms Grant's first book, and she's obviously a decent writer. I liked the basic trope of a straight-laced and repressed lady gradually being undone as she falls in love and her sexuality is awakened. The sexual scenes between Martha and Theo were deftly done and formed an enjoyable part of the story.

But the plot line left a little to be desired IMO. The over-arching plot device was a little hard to swallow for me; a little unr
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I write Regency-set historical romance with a high angst-to-plot ratio. I specialize in hard-headed heroines and good-hearted heroes. So far.

A word about the "reviews" I post here: Please think of them as recommendations rather than reviews. If I like a book, I'll list it here and scrawl a few sentences about why I liked it. I've gone back and forth about whether to use stars (it feels

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“Good.” He drank in her nakedness, fervent as a man downing ale after three days in the desert. His eyes, gleaming with unholy intention, came to rest on hers. “Now fuck me.”

The command knocked her back like a handful of dust in the face. But only for a moment. He was the one tied up. She folded her arms again. “If you want my cooperation you had better address me more politely than that.”

“Fuck me.” Like the world’s wickedest elocution pupil he articulated the words, lips and tongue and teeth put to such nefarious use. “Fuck me until I thrash and shout beneath you.”
“In its place welled up that same dismay she'd known on her first viewing, some ten months past, of a naked man. Whose idea of good design was this? Why those awkward angles, and what could be the necessity for all that hair? If one believed, as the Bible and the Greek myths had it, that man had been created first and woman after, then one must conclude there had been some dramatic improvement in the process following that amateurish first attempt.” 3 likes
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