Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Blackshear Family #3

A Woman Entangled

Rate this book
An ambitious beauty seeking a spot among the elite is thwarted by a most disruptive gentleman in Cecilia Grant’s witty, elegant, and exquisitely sensual novel.
Kate Westbrook has dreams far bigger than romance. Love won’t get her into London’s most consequential parties, nor prevent her sisters from being snubbed and looked down upon—all because their besotted father unadvisedly married an actress. But a noble husband for Kate would deliver a future most suited to the granddaughter of an earl. Armed with ingenuity, breathtaking beauty, and the help of an idle aunt with connections, Kate is poised to make her dreams come true. Unfortunately, a familiar face—albeit a maddeningly handsome one—appears bent on upsetting her scheme.
Implored by Kate’s worried father to fend off the rogues eager to exploit his daughter’s charms, Nick Blackshear has set aside the torch he’s carried for Kate in order to do right by his friend. Anyway, she made quite clear that his feelings were not returned—though policing her won’t abate Nick’s desire. Reckless passion leads to love’s awakening, but time is running out. Kate must see for herself that the charms of high society are nothing compared to the infinite sweet pleasures demanded by the heart.

324 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published June 25, 2013

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Cecilia Grant

5 books571 followers
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 like a sledgehammer approach to something pretty intricate), and at the moment I'm back to using them. Mostly because I'm slow about writing reviews, and there were a lot of books I wanted to go on record as having enjoyed!

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
349 (24%)
4 stars
521 (37%)
3 stars
409 (29%)
2 stars
101 (7%)
1 star
27 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 254 reviews
Profile Image for Jill.
600 reviews1,377 followers
June 6, 2013

4.5 stars

Kate Westbrook is a young woman of grand ambition. Her father has been cut off from his family connections since scandalously marrying an actress. Having tried over the years to finagle her way into the good graces of her father's family, she delights in at last receiving an invitation from her aunt, Lady Harringdon whom Kate believes may want to arrange a match for her.

Nicholas Blackshear, a London barrister was initially rebuffed by Kate three years ago. Though he has remained friends with her and her family she has made it abundantly clear her sights are set on a higher match with a titled gentleman.

As with Cecilia Grant's two heroines in her previous titles, Kate starts off as rather unlikable. Though it may appear that Kate is mercenary and selfishly ambitious, her underlying reasons for desiring a 'quality' marriage are to elevate her sisters in society, and to advance her family who have been looked down on. Her mother has been scorned for her disgraceful career as an actress. Her father virtually disowned for marrying her.

Respectability, the desire to be seen and accepted in society, is at the heart of both protagonists. Nick suffered the loss of integrity and his family's good name, when his brother Will, married a former courtesan.

Kate -
Then she'd dart through that open door, take her place among her own kind, and single-handedly haul her family back into respectability.

Nick -
One day, if he, Nick Blackshear, was scrupulous in both personal and professional conduct, he might restore the family name to such respectability as would make any ambition possible.

Cecilia Grant has written yet another outstanding historical romance. Her prose is second to none. Her portrayal of the mores and values of the era are impressive. A Woman Entangled doesn't read like a 21stC romance. Thankfully.

To be savoured like a fine port, Ms Grant's writing is smooth, complex, mellow, intense. Highly recommended.

Steam: 3

ARC courtesy of Bantam via Edelweiss

Profile Image for Lady Wesley.
924 reviews315 followers
January 1, 2014
10 March 2013
Not surprisingly -- superb. Rather different from the first two books.

Review to come closer to the June 25 pub date.

Thanks to edelweiss.com and Bantam for this digital ARC.

19 May 2013
Let this be a lesson to me. I read the ARC of this book in March but didn't write a review, as it's not coming out until June 25. Two months -- and many intervening books -- later, I can't remember all the reasons I liked it so much.

The silver lining, however, is that I've looked at several very negative reviews already posted at GR. Almost every one bases their opinion on disliking the heroine for being beautiful and shallow, and for grasping at social elevation through marriage. Did they not read the entire book? Did they just skim over the interior monologue scenes? How could anyone read this book without realizing that its major point revolves around the growth and change the heroine (and to a lesser extent, the hero) undergoes; but even so, isn't it possible to admire a well-written, deeply moving story without adoring the heroine? Let me answer that last one: does the name Anna Karenina mean anything to you?

Rant finished. Now, I'll write my review. Thank you.

6 June 2013

Is everything I’ve always dreamed of really what will make me happy?

Kate Westbrook has always dreamed of marrying a man of wealth and position. She is the granddaughter of an earl, but her father was disowned by his family after marrying an actress. He has become a successful, respected barrister, quite content with the family he has created. Kate, however, deeply feels the sting of rejection, and so she hopes to make a marriage that will elevate not only herself but also improve the chances for her younger sisters and brother. Perhaps she can even pave the way for reconciling her father and his family and for garnering for her mother the respect that she deserves. Kate is beautiful and charming and exceedingly determined.

Nicholas Blackshear’s family is eminently respectable, or at least it was. Although his widowed sister has recently married a viscount (A Lady Awakened), his brother has married a courtesan after fighting a duel over her ( A Gentleman Undone). Nick, an up and coming barrister, has felt the sting of society’s disapproval as respectable solicitors have stopped referring cases to him. Although Nick has quite publicly cut himself off from his brother, his promising career is beginning to crumble.

Kate and Nick are well acquainted, as Mr. Westbrook is Nick’s mentor and close friend. Nick is like a member of the family. Indeed, he once hoped to truly become a member of the family. Three years ago he fell in love with Kate and attempted to propose, but she cut him off and made it clear that her sights were set higher. He has remained close to the family and put thoughts of marrying Kate out of his mind. Well, mostly out of his mind. He knows, logically, that someone with Kate’s airs would not make a good wife for a rising young barrister.

So here we have two young people struggling in their own ways to obtain the respect of a society that has shunned them. Kate believes she is on the verge of success when her aunt, Lady Harringdon, suddenly takes an interest in her. Nick, who has political aspirations, sees his opportunity when young Lord Barclay retains Nick to tutor him in public speaking before he takes his new seat in the House of Lords. It does not escape Kate’s notice that Barclay is the brother of a childless marquess. Game on.

Quite a few reviewers have criticized this book because they found Kate so dislikable. I cannot agree. Yes, her plans may seem shallow and grasping, but consider what society was like in 1817. Moreover, she is pursuing this course not just for herself but also for her entire family. She dreams of her father reconciling with his brother the earl and with his elderly mother. (There is a heart-rending scene when Kate realizes that she is meeting her grandmother for the first time and the lady has no idea who Kate is.) She wants society to recognize that her mother is a genteel, decent woman – a Shakespearean actress and never a scandalous courtesan. (“ . . . a woman of character and intelligence, . . . daughter of a proud theatrical family, who studied Sophocles and spat on indecent offers from gentlemen admirers.”) She wants her younger sisters not to have to endure the insults of their schoolmates as she did, and she hopes to give them the opportunity to make good marriages. (“With every bit of her body she remembered that feeling of standing apart, shut out from the jokes and the gossip and the giggling over this or that girl’s handsome older brother.”)

I should add here that these secondary characters from Kate’s family are vividly and delightfully drawn, especially Kate’s sister Viola, a budding feminist bluestocking and a fan of Miss Wollstonecraft’s who is writing her own treatise on the rights of women. (When Kate urges Viola to try to be more charming, Viola retorts, “I’m sure Thomas Paine never concerned himself with whether or not he was charming.”) Indeed, I would enjoy seeing Viola getting her own book in this series.

As for Nick Blackshear, he is not the stereotypical alpha hero, and I like that about him. Oh, he’s handsome enough, but neither wealthy, nor dashing, nor arrogant. He has endeavored to put aside the hurt caused by Kate’s rejection and concentrate on his career. And he was doing a good job of it until his world was upended by his brother’s scandalous marriage. He thinks he can overcome this setback by rejecting his brother, just as Mr. Westbrook’s family had rejected him, but he has doubts and feels guilty. He feels especially guilty when he delays telling Lord Barclay about his brother for fear that Barclay will cut off their budding professional relationship. He is, in other words, a good and decent man caught up in a difficult situation not of his own making, trying to steer his way through the storm as best he can.

The changing relationship between Kate and Nick is real and complicated and beautifully written. Cecilia Grant is immensely talented, as already shown in her first two successful books, and her language is fully of the period without being off-putting to the modern reader. I urge any romance reader looking for a story that hasn’t been done to death already to pick up this one.
Profile Image for Ashley.
2,602 reviews1,671 followers
January 11, 2018
Please ignore the overgrown beefsteak on the cover of this book. I cannot imagine a worse dude to put on the cover to represent this lovely story. Okay, well, that's a lie. I can imagine worse. But still! It is not representative! That is a LARGE MAN WITH UNREALISTICALLY LARGE MUSCLES. The hero of this book is a normal man with a more lean physique and probably very pale, because he is English in the 1800s and where is the sun? And also he is a bookish barrister who regularly turns down social engagements to study and read, and is emphatically not a dude who goes to the gym three hours a day, finishes it off with a hop in the tanning booth, and only eats spinach and chicken breast for all meals.

Okay, now the book. Which I LOVED. Like, I am giving this five stars, and I do not remember the last time I gave a historical romance novel five stars. I have never even given a Courtney Milan five stars (her books are usually not sexy enough for me, and I like good sexytimes in these books). Five stars I usually save for books that really speak to me, or that I feel have some extra oomph that really has earned that fifth star. I consider most novels in this genre, even the ones that I love, to be more on the fluffy end of the literary spectrum, so they have to work a little harder to earn my true love. But this one barely had to flutter its skirts at me before I declared myself for it. Perhaps it's because the book opens with our heroine, Kate, reading Pride and Prejudice, and deeply identifying with Elizabeth Bennet and her family woes, but more likely it's that it was the right, well-written book at exactly the right time for me, that also happens to do things in romance novels that you rarely, if ever, see.

Kate Westbrook is the granddaughter of an earl, but because her father married an actress, his family cast him off. He lives respectably as a barrister, with his four daughters, one son, and wife in a loving household, but he is no longer accepted in "the right" social circles. For most of Kate's family, that situation is perfectly fine. Why should they worry about being disliked by such people, who disregarded the warmth, intelligence and integrity of their mother without even meeting her, instead assuming her profession meant she was unfit for polite society? But Kate has always longed to be accepted back. The social stigma grates on her, and she sees how it limits the prospects of her siblings as well. She loves her parents, but resents them a little for having taken their own happiness at the expense of their childrens'. She is determined to rise again in the world, securing a great marriage so she can bring respectability back to her family's name. Those plans don't include falling in love with her father's protégé, Nick Blackshear, who has recently lived through his own family scandal.

Nick is the brother of Will, from A Gentleman Undone. Will in that book ends up marrying Lydia Slaughter, a former courtesan and gentleman's mistress. Usually in these books that's where the story ends, Happily Ever After, let's pretend this really could have happened NBD. Rarely is there true fallout from unsuitable marriages because romance novels are by design usually escapist in nature, and if there is fallout, we certainly don't get to see it firsthand. Except that's all this book is! This book takes place about a year later, and there has been definite consequences for Will's "imprudent" marriage. All but his sister Martha (from A Lady Awakened) have cut him off, including Nick, whose business has notably suffered due to the scandal. Their older siblings have also dropped in standing, are regularly snubbed by their former friends, and Nick's nieces and nephews now have virtually no chance at good marriages. Nick is trying desperately to gain respectability again, recover his business, and plan for an eventual career in politics. He also has no room for a marriage to someone who has connections to a scandal.

Actually, this is going to sound preposterous, but it reminded me of reading Jane Austen. The language is elevated more than I'm used to in most romance novels, and the characters behaved in historically accurate ways. It also felt very clever and aware of its own social criticism in a similar way that Jane Austen's books do. It's also slower and less immediately rewarding, but the payoff is so good. And the characters are so fully formed and flawed, with real weighty decisions to make and growth to accomplish.

I just loved it, and now I am sad, because I have finished the only three books this author has published.
Profile Image for Caz.
2,647 reviews1,002 followers
July 22, 2016
I've given this an A- rating at AAR, which I suppose = 4.5 stars.

This latest installment in Cecilia Grant’s Blackshear series is as different from the two titles that preceded it (A Lady Awakened and A Gentleman Undone) as those two books are different from each other, but is every bit as good.

Nicholas is the middle Blackshear brother and has been making his living as a barrister in London. But owing to his brother Will’s marriage to a woman of poor reputation (as told in A Gentleman Undone), Nick’s practice has begun to suffer and he is receiving fewer briefs. At a time when reputation was all-important, even the merest whiff of lack of respectability or scandal in one’s family – regardless of who is actually responsible – was enough to tar all family members with the same brush.

Kate Westbrook is struggling with similar problems. Although her father is the son of an earl, her mother used to be an actress, and as at the time the word “actress” was pretty much synonymous with “whore,” Kate’s family is also struggling under the weight of society’s disapprobation.

It is Kate, however, who feels this disapprobation the most strongly and who is determined to do something to restore her family to its proper place in society. In the beginning, she comes across as a terrible snob, shallow and concerned only with propriety and appearances. She is resolutely trying to gain the attention of her father’s family in the hopes that their eventual recognition will result in a rise in social standing for her parents and siblings. She is so determined that she is willing to bear insult and to abase herself in the eyes of others in order to obtain her goal.

Kate is also well aware of the fact that she is quite stunningly beautiful – although she is not vain. She knows men look at her and are drawn to her and deep down, is rather tired of it; but she is determined to use her beauty as a way to make a good marriage and advance her family.

Nick Blackshear was a protégé of Kate’s father, and at the start of the book, has known her for about three years. Like all the young lawyers and students who regularly visit her father’s house, Nick found himself enthralled by her beauty and was very quickly infatuated – to the point of making a proposal which Kate, having had much experience of such things, cleverly deflected, sparing his feelings as best she could.

Even though Nick still finds himself drawn to Kate, he tells himself it’s simply a normal, male reaction towards such a beautiful girl, and for the most part, they have settled into a sincere friendship. He is the one man she feels comfortable actually talking to, one she feels has no expectations for her to live up to, and Nick rather likes the fact that she feels able to be herself around him, even though he doesn’t relish the thought that she might think of him in a brotherly way.

As the story progresses it becomes clear that the feelings between Nick and Kate are anything but brotherly/sisterly, but she is determined to make a marriage to help elevate her family’s standing, and he is convinced (or rather, has convinced himself) that Kate would not be the sort of wife he needs – one who shares his interests and would support him through thick and thin.

Nick is fully aware of Kate’s intentions and while he can’t completely approve them, he does recognize her true motivation. Kate is not anxious to marry well simply to secure her own future comfort. She wants to make things easier for her sisters (the youngest of whom is being picked on at school simply because of her parentage) and to try to effect a reconciliation between her father and his brother, the current Lord Harringdon.

On the surface, one could be forgiven for thinking that the basic premise of the book – the heroine’s determination to overlook the man who loves her in favor of landing herself a rich and titled husband – is a flimsy basis for a novel. Despite his protestations that his feelings towards Kate are now ones of friendship, it’s clear that Nick is very much in love with her, and that trying to support her in her quest is tearing him apart. So all she needs to do to bring things to a satisfactory conclusion is own up to her feelings, et voilà! – The End.

And I suppose, in a roundabout way, that’s what finally happens. But despite the outward simplicity of the story, it’s filled with very real emotion and longing, which is what drew me in so completely. The familial relationships in the Westbrook household are well written and there’s a terrific sense of warmth and affection in their interactions. The minor characters –Mr. Westbrook, Kate’s sister Viola, Lord Barclay, Miss Smith – are all very clearly drawn characters, and the author expertly draws the contrast between Mrs. Westbrook, the “disreputable” ex-actress, and Lady Harringdon and the others of her ilk – leaving the reader in no doubt as to which is the more estimable.

When I started reading, my immediate thought was that there were bound to be readers who were less than happy with the characterization of the heroine. I have since read a few reviews and discovered that I was correct in my assumption – but I have to disagree. I found both Nick and Kate to be engaging, but imperfect characters who had made inappropriate and difficult decisions in their lives, but who were nonetheless mature enough to be able to own their mistakes by the end of the book, and to try to make amends. I can understand why many readers disliked Kate, but she comes a long way throughout the course of the story, from thinking she is doing the right thing for herself and her family (regardless of the fact they are content with things the way they are) to realizing that there are other ways in which she could help them, and – more importantly – be happy herself. Nick is a more static character, although he does make the first move towards a reconciliation with Will, having accepted that refusing to have anything to do with his brother was a stupid, wasteful thing to do. Not only did it not make any difference to Nick’s employment situation, it cost him a companion he truly valued.

The writing and characterization is every bit as good as I’ve come to expect, and Ms. Grant’s economic, restrained style works beautifully to allow the depth of emotion that bubbles under the surface throughout the story to speak for itself. There is no verbiage for the sake of it; this author pays her readers the huge compliment of trusting us with her material and letting us work things out for ourselves.

I suppose one could say that the moral of A Woman Entangled is “to thine own self be true.” Both Nick and Kate come to realize by the end that they have allowed themselves to be blinded to what was under each of their noses because of their own ambitions and preconceptions.

While I think A Woman Entangled was less “weighty” than the other two books in the series, there is much to enjoy and there is no question that it is just as well crafted. The hero and heroine were likeable – if at times misguided – and despite their assertions that they “did not suit,” their mutual respect, understanding, and (eventually) love really shone through. Also – the “friends to lovers” trope is a favorite of mine, and I think it was handled beautifully.

I ended up writing two separate reviews for this :) Here's the one that appeared at Romantic Historical Fiction Lovers on 24th June.

A Woman Entangled is the third novel in Cecilia Grant’s Blackshear Family series and in it, we follow the path to true love followed by Nicholas Blackshear, the middle brother and London Barrister whom we have glimpsed previously in both A Lady Awakened and A Gentleman Undone.

Nick has his eye on a future career in politics, and has been doing quite well in his chosen profession, until, that is, his younger brother Will made rather a scandalous marriage (as told in A Gentleman Undone) and caused a scandal that has had repercussions for Nick. The briefs are no longer coming his way as thickly as they used to, and knowing this, his friend and mentor, Charles Westbrook, gives Nick’s name to a recently ennobled baronet who is looking for someone to tutor him in the art of argument and public speaking.

The Westbrooks are also the subject of society’s censure owing to the fact that Charles Westbrook, the son of an earl, married an actress against the wishes of his family, who immediately cut all contact with him and have not acknowledged him or his family ever since. But Westbrook and his wife made a love match; Mrs Westbrook is shown to be a woman of sense, intelligence and more good-breeding than many of the matrons of the ton, and their children, too, do not feel as though they have lost anything by being ignored by their father’s noble relatives.

All of them except the eldest daughter, Kate. Well aware that finding husbands for her three younger sisters is going to be difficult without the Westbrooks having either money or consequence on their side, Kate has determined to restore her family to its rightful place in society by using the most powerful means at her disposal. Herself. While she is not vain, Kate knows herself to be uncommonly beautiful and sets out to find herself a rich, titled husband.

I’ve seen that quite a few readers have taken a dislike to Kate for her mercenary attitude, but I didn’t feel that way at all. For one thing, her motives are – for the most part – completely unselfish. She doesn’t think too much about whether she can be happy with whomever she sets her sights on and is more concerned with providing an entrée into good society for her sisters. And when she is being ‘herself’ rather than playing the part of the breathless ingénue, Kate is kind and quick-witted – certainly quick-witted enough to despise herself for having to act like a simpering chit towards all the young men she encounters.

Well - all the young men she encounters but one.

Kate and Nick have known each other for three years and at the beginning of their acquaintance, Nick was just as bowled over by her looks as any of the other men she meets. But Kate, having determined on making an advantageous marriage, very quickly and discreetly discouraged him.

Although hurt at the time, Nick quickly came to acknowledge that Kate wouldn’t be a suitable wife for him. What he needs is someone who can share his interests and help him in his political ambitions rather than someone who aims to make a place for herself as a society beauty. Or rather, that’s what he keeps telling himself, because despite all, he still carries a torch for Kate.

And even though Kate is coming to realise that she is far more attracted to Nick than she had ever realised, she refuses to be deterred from her goal of finding a well-connected husband; and when, at last, circumstances conspire to reveal to her the true nature of her feelings for him, she is devastated at the thought she might have come to the realisation too late.

As one would expect from Cecilia Grant, this is a beautifully written story. Her wonderfully understated and economical prose perfectly conveys the deeply felt emotions that run throughout, whether it be Nick’s longing for Kate or hers for him; or the quiet acceptance, tinged by sadness of Charles Westbrooks’ acceptance of his family’s attitude towards him and his wife and children. Nick’s eventual reconciliation with Will is a tiny gem of a highlight in the story, as Nick finally admits how much he has missed his brother.

I admit, I found this book to be rather less “weighty” than the earlier ones in the series. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, and the central romance is beautifully handled. Unlike Martha in A Lady Awakened or Will in the previous book, Nick and Kate have to overcome obstacles which are almost entirely of their own making, which I suppose can lead the reader to scratch her head and wonder why they were being so wilfully blind. But that, I suppose is the point. It’s clear that Nick and Kate belong together. He is the only man she feels she can truly be herself with; and she is one of the few people in whom he confides. Their story is about overcoming self-deception and letting go of misconceptions in order to live the life that might be different from originally envisaged, but that is in no way less than the life they deserve.

Highly recommended.
Profile Image for willaful.
1,155 reviews371 followers
June 19, 2013
Grant is known for her challenging heroines and here she stacks the deck against Kate by making her -- gasp! -- the anti-Elizabeth. Like her favorite literary heroine, Kate is often mortified by "a family that did not know the meaning of discretion." However, she has no intention of following in Elizabeth's footsteps:

"If Mr. Darcy, for example, had come to her with that first grudging proposal openly acknowledging his abhorrence at so lowering herself, she would have swallowed her pride long enough to choice out a yes. Affection and understanding could come afterward -- or if they never came at all, she would have a good name and the grounds at Pemberley on which to build all the facility she required."

Cut off from her father's high ranking family because he married an actress, Kate's goal is to help her sisters (and herself) by marrying her way back up the social ladder. Her exceptional beauty, charm, and perfect manners make her ambition fairly reasonable. If only she could find a way to attract the notice of eligible gentlemen. And if only she could stop noticing barrister Nicholas Blackshear.

The fortune hunting heroine is not all that new, but Grant gives it an interesting twist here by pairing her with someone just as snobbish and difficult in his way. Nick also has an "irregularity" in his family that he's trying to live down -- his brother married a former Cyprian. (See A Gentleman Undone) And though Nick quite properly cut his brother off, the scandal has still cost him success in his career. His only comfort is the sour grapes of convincing himself that the beautiful Kate Westbrook would be a terrible wife for him.

A plot summary makes both Nick and Kate sound appalling, but actually both are warmhearted, thoughtful people trying to do the right things in a society that has very warped ideas about what the right things are. I liked the genuineness of the situation here: Nick's brother's marriage really does cause him problems, and those aren't easily wiped away, as they so often are in Regency romances. Part of what he has to learn is that giving up your family to please others isn't worth it. And part of what Kate has to learn is that she can direct her talents and ambitions in a different direction.

This is the most smoothly written and gracefully plotted of Grant's books so far. Referencing both Pride and Prejudice and Emma (there are parallels in Nick and Kate's long-term friendship), it is somewhat Austen-ish in feel -- insightful, intimate, and centered around a world in which behaving appropriately is all important. The downside of that is somewhat less emotional intensity -- which perhaps is the right choice for these particular characters. Though not as astonishingly delightful as A Lady Awakened or as wrenching as A Gentleman Undone, it was very enjoyable.

(reviewed from e-arc provided by NetGalley)
Profile Image for Anna (Bobs Her Hair).
909 reviews193 followers
June 18, 2013
3.5 Stars…Exquisite Prose, Appealing Characters, and Humdrum Plot

An exquisitely beautiful young woman and unacknowledged granddaughter of an earl – provoked by her family’s poor treatment within noble society – is willing to forsake love to marry an aristocrat. Kate Westbrook sets aside romantic notions for practical purposes. Now, her goal is within sight. Unfortunately, a family friend’s meddling may disrupt her plans.

A few years ago, Nick Blackshear lost his head the first time he saw Kate. She bluntly nipped his courtship in the bud. Her conceit reduced his admiration of her; yet, over the years, this multifaceted woman behaved in other compelling ways to prove she is more than a pretty face. No matter. Nick has goals of his own. They may take some time to achieve due to a family scandal. Soon enough, those goals entwine with his friendship with Kate’s father and the ambitious woman herself.

A Woman Entangled seems to conclude the Blackshear Family series. The characters were all I had hoped they would be: rounded, compelling, and conflicted. Again, Cecilia Grants’ gorgeous prose absorbed my interest until the lethargic plot had me putting down the book a few times.

Ms. Grant has a talent for avoiding overused plot devices. This book continues with this trend, which I appreciate. Regrettably, the romance and family drama seemed inadequate. The straightforward plot needed more momentum, more energy. It’s a guarantee that Nick and Kate would have their happy ending. Their inner conflict - mostly family scandals - was sincere, but not strong enough to grip this reader. A Woman Entangled played out like the gentle music from a finely-tuned cello, but I was not expecting a lullaby.

I give Ms. Grant a great big cheer for creating a seemingly shallow heroine. Kate Westbrook was anything but superficial. Kate used the tools available to improve her family’s lot in life for the time period. This book may not have resonated with me like A Gentleman Undone, but other readers may be positively moved by the classically played elegance in her writing. I continue to look forward to Cecilia Grants’ future work.

Digital RC compliments of Random House Publishing via Edelweiss

I feel the need to 'gif' my feelings of joy! (No worries, friends; I'm using spoiler tags.)

I am SPECIAL! You may touch my ereader-page-turner hand. ;o)~

716 reviews297 followers
December 13, 2017
This is a romance to savor. I'd give it 6 stars if I could. Cecilia Grant has written a romance as close to perfect as any I've ever read. Excellent plot, fully-fleshed-out, complex, complicated, flawed characters, with writing as good as it gets. OK, I'm gushing, but this book is gush-worthy, IMO. It's romance just the way I like it.

One thing I particularly enjoy about Grant's HRs is their realism. No fairy tale with a handsome duke carrying off the beautiful princess to live HEA in his mansion. In fact, if you've read Grant's previous novel, A Gentleman Undone, you'll see some unhappy consequences of that romance for several characters of this one. Not to say that the book's gloomy, no. It's just more the way life really is, with its good, bad, ugly and beautiful aspects.

When we last left the Blackshear family in the previous novel, ex-soldier Will had married Lydia, the courtesan he falls in love with, and consequently had been disowned by all his family except for Martha and her husband (H and h of A Lady Awakened). Will's older brother Nick, a barrister, is the hero of this novel and is struggling in his profession because of the scandal of Will's marriage.

And then there's our heroine, Kate Westbrook, who has her own issues stemming from the fact that her father was disowned by his upper-class family for falling in love with and marrying an actress, the woman with whom he has lived happily for 23 years and produced 5 children, Kate being the eldest. Kate isn't content with living in a loving, middle-class family with a successful barrister for a father. No, she longs to be accepted in the ton, believing it her right as the daughter of the younger brother of an earl.

In Kate's defense, this is not just an egotistical, selfish longing. She sees her younger sisters' struggles at school to be accepted by their more snobbish upper-class classmates. She wants them happy and wants them to eventually marry into well-regarded families. And she wants to see her father reunited with his family after so many years of separation. So Kate thinks that maybe, just maybe, she can worm her way into the life of Lady Harringdon (her father's sister-in-law) and gain entrance into society to marry well and thus bring all her family into acceptance along with her.

Well, for Kate, marrying well means not marrying Nick, the handsome young barrister her father has been mentoring for 3 years and who had, when first meeting her, shown an active romantic interest. She quickly squelched that in the bud because it didn't fit in with her plans and now they have managed to make their relationship as platonic and friendly as possible.

The book takes us on Kate's journey to self-discovery and maturity and on Nick's journey to begin the healing of his family's rupture. It's an insightful, beautifully-developed romance. Not as angsty as Will's story but perhaps the better for this.
Profile Image for Carol Cork *Young at Heart Oldie*.
425 reviews200 followers
July 18, 2017
This is the final book in Cecilia Grant’s Blackshear Family series and it has everything that made the other books in this series so outstanding – a unique writing style, a thought-provoking storyline and seriously flawed and interesting characters

Like Ms. Grant’s heroines in the previous books, Kate is difficult to like at first. She gives the appearance of being a superficial, selfish social climber who is willing to use her beauty to ensnare a wealthy, titled gentleman into marrying her. However, it soon becomes clear that her motives are far from selfish because she cares deeply for her family and will do anything she possibly can to achieve the social acceptance they deserve.

Her father, Charles Westbrook, caused a scandal when he married an actress and, although she was a woman of character and intelligence from a proud theatrical family, Charles’ family disowned both him and his family and have had no further contact since. Kate has worked hard to capture the attention of her father’s family with the hope of not only healing the rift between them but also of making an advantageous marriage which would provide opportunities for her sisters to have a better life. I like how Ms. Grant shows glimpses of a very different Kate in her protective concern for her sister, Rose, and the kindness she shows her friend, Louisa. I particularly loved how she decided not to make a certain choice because she knew it would have been hurtful to Louisa.

Like Kate, Nick is also hoping to restore his family’s respectability. A respected barrister, Nick had ambitions of one day becoming an MP, that is until his brother, Will, brought the family name into disrepute by not only marrying a courtesan, but fighting a duel over her as well ( A Gentleman Undone ). Nick has tried to repair the damage by publicly cutting off all contact with his brother, but many of the solicitors have stopped sending him clients because of the stain on the Blackshear family name. Nick sees his chance of having enough money to purchase the land needed to qualify him for a seat in Parliament slipping away. Then his close friend and mentor, Charles Westbrook, recommends Nick to Lord Barclay, who is looking for someone to tutor him in the art of public speaking, before he takes his seat in the House of Lords. The honorarium from Lord Barclay will hopefully provide the necessary funds Nick needs. Nick has been a good family friend to the Westbrooks and had once harboured hopes of marrying Kate, but she had made it very plain that she had set her sights on someone of higher social standing than a mere barrister

I love Ms. Grant’s flawed heroes and heroines because they always seem more human. They make misjudgements and mistakes as I’m sure we all do, and it is those very fragilities that make them interesting and their journey to finding what they really want in life more emotionally satisfying.

Having believed that the only way to attain what she wants is through an advantageous marriage, Kate comes to realise that the very same things can be attained through friendship without sacrificing her own happiness.

Nick has always felt guilty about cutting himself off from his brother, whom he still loves, whilst still keeping the familial connection with his sister, Martha, who herself had been guilty of scandalous impropriety ( A Lady Awakened ). The only difference being that Martha and her husband had been discreet and avoided steeping the family name in scandal as Will had done. Nick has always regarded himself as a man of integrity, but his actions force him to question that integrity and the choices he has made, not only regarding his brother, but also his failure to tell Lord Barclay about his family scandal for fear of jeopardising his political aspirations. I like how Nick reaches out to his brother and there are definite signs of a reconciliation and his honesty in telling Lord Barclay the truth regardless of the consequences.

The romance is intelligently written and I enjoyed watching it unfold. They have remained friends and Nick has tried to put all thoughts of marrying Kate out of his head, aware that someone with such social aspirations would never make a suitable barrister’s wife, but it’s obvious that he is still in love with Kate. It’s only when her father asks Nick to keep an eye on Kate at the social events she is attending, and they are constantly thrown together, does Kate realise that she loves Nick and it may be too late. She has to learn to think with her heart rather than her head and decide where her happiness lies. I like how she comes to the realisation that life married to a titled gentleman would be exceedingly dull but, married to Nick, she could play an active role in his life in so many ways.

The secondary characters all add depth to the story. I especially liked Kate’s sister, Viola, a bluestocking with definite opinions on women’s rights and some of their conversations made me smile; Louisa who is a true friend to Kate and genuinely has her interests at heart, and the liberal-minded Lord Barclay. I also enjoyed seeing the other members of the Blackshear family who play an important role in the decisions Nick must make.

I love how the Epilogue offers of a positive glimpse of the future for both Nick’s and Kate’s immediate families.

Wedding breakfasts usually were, of course, and indeed this one celebrated the commencement of their married life. However, it also sketched a tentative outline of how their two families would fit together. And how Nick’s own might come to be whole once again.

MY VERDICT: Ms. Grant’s books are ones you don’t simply read; they are ones you savour like the finest wine. This is a series that shouldn’t be missed and I am now waiting patiently for Cecilia Grant to publish more books!

Blackshear Family series (click on the book covers for more details):

A Christmas Gone Perfectly Wrong (Blackshear Family, #0.5) by Cecilia Grant A Lady Awakened (Blackshear Family, #1) by Cecilia Grant A Gentleman Undone (Blackshear Family, #2) by Cecilia Grant A Woman Entangled (Blackshear Family, #3) by Cecilia Grant

This review was first posted on my Rakes and Rascals Blog:

Profile Image for Petra.
265 reviews16 followers
December 6, 2021
2.5 stars rounding it up only because of author’s effort to show a beautiful character arc; going from MCs being dependent on society’s inclusion to having trust in their capabilities to live without having the necessary approval of higher society. I loved that.

But there wasn’t enough time between Kate and Nick. Their romance took second place to Kate’s ambitious relationship with Lady Harringdon and to Nick’s relationship with his brother. These secondary plots were taking up too much space and time and were not interesting. I could easily guess everything that’s going to happen so much so I ended up skipping these sections and didn’t miss much.

The scenes with Kate and Nick really elevated the book but they weren’t enough. Their development went from cold to hot in one day.
The sex scenes were hot and unusual for romance but very realistic.

I feel like this could have easily been a novella with a lot of the secondary content shortened.
Profile Image for MRB.
89 reviews
August 12, 2013
Other reviewers have dome such a great job of summing up this book's assets and potential drawbacks that I'll keep this mercifully brief!

What you might love:

1) The biggest pro is the prose. ;) Seriously, Grant is among the most sublimely gifted writers you'll come across in this genre. Perhaps in ANY genre. The book is bursting with wit and insight, but if you're anything like me, you'll be enchanted not just by what the author is saying, but the way she's choosing to say it. I can't stress enough that fellow language lovers and those who place an extremely high premium on writing style---fellow bookworms who geekily highlight, reread and sigh over particularly brilliant turns of phrase---will likely find this book a true treasure. It was my first Cecelia Grant book, but it certainly won't be my last.

2) This gem contains some terrific allusions to Jane Austen's work---her themes and characterizations and her insights on life, love and the role of women. We learn immediately that the heroine is a huge Jane Austen fan, and the way the author both honors and slyly twists some of what's found in Austen's work adds another layer of interest and pleasure to this novel.

3) Without being excessively grim and dark (personally, I hate when romance novels depress more than they delight!), this book really is sneakily profound and quietly but strongly resonant, at least for me. I read an insane number of books, and this is among the handful to have stayed with me for weeks after reaching the conclusion---and one that I'm already embarrassingly eager to reread.

What you might not love quite as ardently!:

1) Grant's hero and (especially) heroine are very flawed. Personally, I love that Kate and Nick are so fallible: not only does that make them more nuanced, interesting and relatably human to me, but it makes their ultimate growth and positive journey as individuals and as a couple all the more rewarding. That said, I think it's fair to warn fellow readers that if you prefer your characters to be eminently lovable and wholly admirable from the outset, this may disappoint.

2) As others have noted, the plot is not exactly jaw-droppingly twisty and innovative. ;) As you can tell from the above, I was far too enamored with the book's brilliant prose, immensely clever "that's SO true!" insights and emotional richness to care, but if you're someone who places a high value on plot, you might want to temper your expectations a bit.

I can readily see why this book isn't for everyone, particularly because the characters are a bit more flawed than many of us are used to seeing in romance novels. That said, the writing really is among the most brilliant, captivating and sneakily effective I've been lucky enough to come across. This book took me on an immensely rewarding journey, and one I'm very eager to embark on again in the near future!
Profile Image for Ruth.
591 reviews59 followers
May 28, 2013
I know it's possibly sacrilege, but for me this book, provided by netgalley, was the "Pride and Prejudice" I've always wanted to read, but never found in the original. It's beautifully written, but speaks to my contemporary mind in a way Austen's original has never been able to. The original is too flippant, steers clear of any agonizingly painful emotions and assumes that scandal is the worse thing that can ever happen to a woman, because that's what society tells you. Well, this one really looks at pain, disappointment, ambition, hope and what the aftermath of scandal just possibly could look like, and I loved every minute of it.

I've read the preceding books in this series, and they both represented something of a revelation to me. The author's voice and style is very different than your everyday historical romance, and although the romance is extremely strong in all three, it doesn't detract from the fact that the plots are very good in their own right, nor that the main characters do not necessarily make you immediately sympathize with their plight, nor even particularly like them. They are also all quite different from one another.

In this book, the hero is wonderful. A gifted, ambitious barrister, determined to make his mark in the world of politics and overcome the stain of his brother's scandalous marriage. But the way he turns his back on his brother is incredibly cruel, both to himself and his brother, and essentially rather pointless. He's suffering the connection anyway, so why deny himself the close relationship he had?

The heroine, meanwhile, is not particularly sympathetic. She's mouthwateringly beautiful, poised and ambitious. She's willing to play nice with family members who turfed out her father for marrying her mother, simply to use their access to society to marry up. But, again, all is not as it seems. What is her real motivation for doing this? What happens when you use your looks to get what you want, but then find yourself trying to rise above them? And are you really rising above after all?

I read a lot of romance, and love the genre, but it's so refreshing to find an author which demands my complete attention when reading. Too many of them are like background music - I find myself doing a load of other things at the same time, and still no missing anything much. It's not just that this book is a wonderful story, full of unsympathetic, selfish characters who embark on life-altering journeys of self-discovery (although they do that too), but I loved it mainly because I found myself not wanting to miss a single word.

Anyway, loved it. 5 stars. Can't wait for this author to publish her next book.
Profile Image for Jess.
2,822 reviews5 followers
May 7, 2022
I really like a historical heroine who is unashamed of her desire for a better life so Kate was always going to be a character that I liked a great deal. And I really did love her and Nick together, and I think that the political life they both want will be a good fit for them, but I do also squirm a little at the putting her in her place narrative that's also part of the book. Oh, it's framed as her realizing all that is gilded is not gold and it's not, but idk. I could have done without that feeling.
Profile Image for Namera [The Literary Invertebrate].
1,180 reviews2,807 followers
December 14, 2022
An unexpected disappointment.

I picked up this one because it promised me a fabulously manipulative antiheroine. Kate is the granddaughter of an earl, but her noble father's family cast him off when he married an actress; she's determined to retake her rightful place in society, using her beauty to beguile a titled husband. Nick - the decidedly untitled, scandal-dogged barrister colleague of her father - has no place in her plans.

There's an intriguing twist of second-chance romance about this too. Nick proposed to Kate three years ago, only to be turned down, and they've now apparently settled into a sibling-type relationship. Pining hero, manipulative antiheroine, friends-to-lovers dynamic... what went so wrong?

Well, briefly, the romance pacing was VERY off. IIRC, they don't even kiss until about 70-80% into the book; the solitary sex scene feels like it was included more as a nod to genre expectations than because it actually belonged. I enjoyed Kate's initial determination to better herself - I don't think I've encountered a premise like this before - and she does take active steps to achieve her goal, but it never becomes clear to me why and when she realises that Nick is actually good enough for her.

For his part, Nick was willing to sleep with another woman at like 70% into the book, and only doesn't because she goes off with another man. I can't totally blame him because at this point, Kate has rejected every one of his advances, but I still don't want to read a scene like this so close to the end of the book!

Overall, disappointing execution of an interesting premise.


Blog Pinterest Bookstagram
Profile Image for Jennifer.
498 reviews35 followers
June 19, 2013
I wanted to love this more than I did, and it's hard to put into words why. I wasn't crazy about the Austen theme (holy P&P fatigue) for one, and that delicious slow burn arc that I loved in the last two books was missing.

In A Lady Awakened, Martha was frozen, then thawed as a true connection developed; and A Gentleman Undone had some of the best sexual tension ever. I didn't feel much of that here at all.

Their shenanigans at the end really bothered me too.

Thank you Goodreads First Reads for the early book!
Profile Image for Ivy Deluca.
2,146 reviews275 followers
February 5, 2020
Quick(ish) Review (ok, this is a lie but go with it)
The Reducing my TBR Mountain to Rubble Quest of 2020 continues. And I’m digging the randomness of my selections (using a random number generator to pick the books) because I’m such a mood reader that I can easily get stuck in a rut and then wonder why I’m uninspired.
Anyhoodle, this book is a new to me author (whose books must’ve been recommended to me once upon a time and got lost on the Mountain) and I like her writing style.

Kate and Nick, the protagonists of our romance du jour, desperately want acceptance by their peers (in Nick’s case) and by family (in Kate’s case). Kate’s father made the fatal decision to marry for love to an actress, and Nick’s brother doing the same to a courtesan damaged each family’s reputation. This drives both of them in a way that I found interesting, and the exploration of how these decisions out of their control profoundly affect their standing in society, their futures and how these class issues still remain to this day in some form or another is an interesting topic. It’s this commonality, no matter how much they said they were so different, that made their connection and eventual respect for each other, so believable.

I love a difficult, ambitious heroine. Kate knows her strengths and tries to work within the social structure she exists in. She’s also aware of her attractiveness and uses it to her advantage. There is something refreshing with a heroine who owns her beauty, instead of being the traditionally modest, oblivious cipher, who exists as a placeholder for a reader’s affection for the hero. I also like that while Kate can be called a social climber, part of her real desire is to connect with the family that shunned her parents so long ago. She’s like that little kid pressing her nose up against the glass, wishing for that shiny toy. It humanizes her. She’s vain and ambitious and kind and loving and naive, all at once. I know alot of readers who do not enjoy a difficult heroine, so this may not be to your taste, but I liked her.

I like a hero whose feelings for the heroine even surpasses hers for him. Nick fell head over heels for Kate when he met her, crushing on her looks and her family in equal measure I think. When she knocked him back because of his lack of social standing, trying to make sure he understood her own ambitions, I felt for him. His attraction for her remains, but he’s not exactly pining either. He’s still dallying when he wants a little some some and he’s trying to move on with his life. He’s dealing with the fallout of his family scandal and how it’s affected his professional career as a barrister, as he is the middle son of a non-titled gentleman. From my experience with historical Romancelandia, you can’t throw a stick without hitting a duke or an earl, so seeing a working hero was a nice change of pace. But his desire for Kate faded to friendship (only kind of, let’s be real) but his regard for her, and Ms. Grant really does give a good basis to that friendship and allows the reader to understand why these two are attracted, but also why they’re not acting on that.

I liked their Firsts but the pacing was mildly off for me. It was very, very late in the story before they each accepted their feelings for each other. Each of them did small things that made me disconnect from them, each at times pursuing other relationships (her for her ambition and him for pleasure). These pursuits don’t rise to the level of cheating, but the thoughts they had while attempting to connect with others while still being attracted to each other didn’t quite work for me.

Also, I would have DEARLY loved to see some scene where Kate stands up for herself or Nick stands up for her against her snooty relatives who treat her like a step above trash. I really, really dearly would have loved a good payoff of a moment. That’s what was really lacking for me. I wanted a big moment, and it all just seemed to work itself out. I do feel that I was missing too much, coming into a series in the third book.

The Bottom Line
I liked this, alot more than I anticipated, to be honest. After that quick (ha!) review, let’s just say Nick and Kate’s romance was that change of pace I needed, and I’ll definitely keep an eye out for more from Ms. Grant.


For more reviews, visit

description description description description
Profile Image for Linda .
1,795 reviews249 followers
December 24, 2020
I found this review very hard to write. Cecelia Grant is a favorite author of numerous GR friends. I haven’t read anything by her until now so I was expecting this romance to amaze me. Instead, I had mixed feelings.

Kate Westbrook was the oldest of five children born to a nobleman. He gave up his title and fortune to marry a commoner. Because of this, his family had not spoken to him for 23 years. Instead of dwelling on what he lost, the gentleman found purpose in becoming a barrister.

Kate’s parents were a happy, loving couple; they cherished their offspring. For this reason, I never understood why Kate behaved the way she did. She was kind to her younger brother and sisters. She loved her parents and yet...

I thought her superficial.

Three years before, Nick Blackshear came on the scene. Mr. Westbrook was his mentor and a friend. Twenty-six at the time to Kate’s eighteen years of age, he offered to court her. She treated him shabbily. Besides her beauty, I never understood what Nick saw in her.

Nick was not without some personal prejudices either. Unfortunately, each of them placed too much weight on society’s opinion where it concerned their families. It wasn’t until well after 2/3’s of the storyline had passed before Nick won her over. Perhaps if I liked Kate it might have mattered, but I found it too little too late.
Profile Image for Maria Rose.
2,465 reviews242 followers
June 28, 2018
Listening to this as an audiobook was purely delightful! The narrator Susan Erickson did an excellent job with the male and female characters and the story is so well written and enjoyable. Kate and Nick have very legitimate reasons for wanting to stay clear of a relationship beyond friendship but feelings don't always follow sense. A bit of heartbreak, some seriously sexy scenes and a delightful friends to lovers romance.
Profile Image for Melissa.
401 reviews70 followers
September 26, 2015
I hope Cecilia Grant is working on a new book these days, because I'm terribly sad to have finished the last of her three published novels, and the final one in the Blackshear Family trilogy. She's such a wonderful writer. A Woman Entangled is a very different story than the first two in the series, both of which involved a great deal of angst and some genuinely scandalous situations for the characters. This third novel is less weighty, but just as entertaining and involving.

Profile Image for Christa Schönmann Abbühl.
896 reviews17 followers
March 27, 2019
This was the most difficult book for me to like in the trilogy. The main protagonists were both more „normal“ people than those in the two earlier ones, and their motivations quite comprehensible - but I disliked them for being so .... shallow, maybe? Grant did her work as always very well, and made me feel for the heroine and hero quite against my will ;-) She develops the characters in such a believable way, and as they become more aware and worthier persons, it gets easier to follow them on their route to happiness.
What also makes Grant special for me is the way she includes sexy times in her books without ever crossing into (historically) unrealistic territory.
Kate was such a complex female character, even though she has had a pretty easy life, unlike the heroines of the first two volumes. She has grown up in a loving family, and while they are not well off, they also never knew poverty or loss. It was lovely to see Grant show us that everybody has hidden depths and differing sides. That such mundane events like being excluded at school can form your personality and influence your long term decisions. She is nothing like me, but there was a moment where I suddenly connected with her and remembered my very young self having the exact same feelings!
Nick was also well done, in that you could totally follow the reasoning for his decisions, even when you disagreed with them. I wanted to dislike him, and he certainly was not as lovable as hero No 1 or as heroic as hero No 2. It was still believable that Kate would finally accept him. It was good for him to fall from his high horse and find out that he is less perfect than he thought himself to be.
Grant is a master with dialogue and with characterization, the side characters are very well done, and there was not one boring moment (but some quite annoying ones). And yes, I cried for a bit, close to the end.
Perfect narration.
Profile Image for SidneyKay.
613 reviews38 followers
September 9, 2013
Watch out! It's the flexing finger hero!

You know keddoes, about half way through A Woman Entangled, I noticed that our hero, Nick, was having trouble with his hands. Every time our heroine Kate said something or smiled or even moved, Nick's fingers curled, flexed, tensed. It was at this point that I had the fleeting thought of keeping track of how many times his fingers curled, but because I'm lazy and didn't want to go back to the beginning and start counting, I resisted temptation. Just be warned, fellow readers, this guy has some really twitchy appendages, at least on his hands.

Now on to the book. I was very excited when A Woman Entangled was released. I have been very impressed with Cecilia Grant's writing, especially her book, A Lady Awakened. Through her writing, she has managed to energize some old plot lines, so I was looking forward to being led down an interesting path when I opened this story. Well, it didn't take me long to find a character I hated and loved at the same time.

Let me introduce you to Kate Westbrook, a really hard heroine to like. Kate wanted more than what she had. She wanted it more than anything in the world; it's sort of an obsession with her. You see, her father was born into aristocracy, but because he fell in love with an actress and then married her, his noble family turned their collective backs on him. However, Kate's parents have provided her and her siblings with a loving household. The Westbrook’s actually reminded me a little of the Bennett family, except the Westbrook’s cared for each other. But Kate wants more. She yearns for a life that she doesn't know the first thing about. She has created all of these fantasies about how wonderful it would be to be accepted in her father's old world. She is ashamed, she is resentful, she is embarrassed, she is sad, she is jealous of the wealthy elite world of which she can never be a part. Like all heroines, she has a plan, a purely selfish plan, but a plan nonetheless. Unbeknownst to her parents, she has been in communication with her father's family over the years. Just little notes, a best to you note here, a congratulations note there. She just knows that someday his family will say, "sure come on over and have some grub with us." Well, that moment happens, not the grub part, but along the lines of "come over and see my magnificent home" invite. Imagine her chagrin when her aunt explains to Kate that she is good enough to be a companion. Kate's world does a little collapsing at this point. Eventually, her vision clears and she realizes that not everything that glitters is gold. Kate is a really unlikeable person. Most of the problems that she faces are those that she has created for herself. Only occasionally does she show any redeeming qualities and those are with her sister Rose and her new friend Louisa. I think I would have liked Kate better if it hadn't taken her soooooo long to see the beauty of her own world. Then there is her treatment of the finger guy, Nick.

Nick, our hero, also has problems. If you've read the other books in this series, you will remember Nick as the third brother, and he has cut his brother Will out of his life. Remember Will married the courtesan - evidently that isn't good for one's family or career. So, Nick spends quite a lot of pages grumbling about the loss of business due to his brother's action - accompanied by an occasional twinge of guilt. Throw into all of this angst his past/present association with Kate. Kate, who I forgot to mention is beautiful with a capital B. Nick and Kate have a past of sorts; you see, Nick made the mistake of falling in love with Kate, then attempting to propose marriage to her. Little did he know that he wasn't good enough for Kate. He is a mere working man, a barrister just starting out. She wanted a lord, so she dumped all over his feelings. However, he has moved on, sort of. Over the years he has become a permanent fixture in Westbrook family's household - like a brother. Of course, we who have read countless romance novels know that brother thing never works out. But for me, as a couple Nick and Kate worked better as friends than a romance couple.

There was way too much time spent on exploring Kate's self-indulgent dreams and Nick's guilt that this couple didn't have time to build any chemistry. The whanky-roo when it shows up, while exuberant, seemed out of place. And supposedly innocent Kate exhibited no signs of shyness while participating in the big bounce. In the end, I didn't care whether they ended up together or not. I was really more interested in some of the secondary characters in the book: Vi, Kate's brash sister; Kate's friend, Louisa; and Lord Barclay. The Westbrook's had a number of interesting siblings and I'm hoping the author spends more time exploring this family.

Overall, I love Cecelia Grant's writing and I do recommend all three books in the Blackshear series. It's just this one had the weakest couple.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Suzanne.
363 reviews46 followers
December 6, 2014

Cecilia Grant’s third novel, A Woman Entangled is a wonderful composite of graceful writing, historical exposition, and believable emotion. I loved it!

A Woman Entangled (Blackshear Family series #3) is a pointed homage to Jane Austen by Grant’s repeated contextual reference Austen’s novels, and by the novel’s similar focus on one young couple struggling to understand the significance of duty, love, marriage, family, and societal expectations in their lives.

Kate Westbrook, the beautiful heroine, is an avid reader of Pride and Prejudice. However, Kate, unlike her fictional counterpart Elizabeth Bennett, is not inspired to seek a marriage based on romantic love. Kate, and her siblings, have suffered the societal consequences of their father’s mésalliance. Her father, a successful barrister and the son of an earl, was disowned when he married Kate’s mother, a respected and respectable Shakespearian actress. Theirs was a love match, which resulted in a large and close-knit family. But Kate is less impressed by her parent’s happiness, than by the loss of her paternal aristocratic relatives. She feels stifled by the family’s middle class lifestyle, and hurt the social snubs her family endures. As a result, Kate is determined to be ruthlessly sensible and has a game plan to rekindle relations with her wealthy relatives and barter her considerable physical beauty and charm for marriage to a wealthy titled gentleman.

Nick Blackshear, a handsome and talented young barrister is in love with Kate, but realizes he has no chance with her. Although they continue as friends, she has earlier rejected his courtship because he is not wealthy or aristocratic. In addition, his life has also been marred by a family mésalliance. His legal practice suffered when his brother married a prostitute. Fewer solicitors refer him few legal cases and he worries that his political ambitions will be doomed by this family scandal. In addition, Nicholas has become completely estranged from this brother as a result of the unfortunate marriage, but still misses their closeness.

Like the famously tortured couple of Pride and Prejudice, Kate and Nicholas are forced to examine and weigh their choices; eventually embracing love, mutual respect, and family. However, Grant demonstrates the real consequences of their choices in a society that is rigidly tied to tradition, class distinction, and hypocritical morality. The reader is left at the conclusion of the book with the gratifying understanding that their lives may continue to be a struggle on some fronts, but that they will be fortified by their and the love of their closest relations.

Grant’s depiction of the legal world of the Inns of Court was thrilling and historically accurate. This is professional milieu I hope she may explore in future books, as well as the lives of the secondary characters, such as the feminist sister Violet, who was a delight.

I received this book as a free Firstreads copy through goodreads.com.

Profile Image for Ellie.
812 reviews162 followers
May 30, 2016
I still loved the writing but this story just didn't win me over as much as the previous ones.

This was a nice addition to the series but it somehow ended as my least favourite. I was curious to read Nick's story, especially after what happened with Martha and more importantly with Will, in the previous book, so I probably had too high expectations and felt disappointed in the end,

It is a very well written story like the previous ones but I didn't feel that strong a connection with the characters here and found the heroine particularly annoying at times.

Kate's obsession with making it in her rightful place in high society did not sit very well with me. I understand it and I appreciate her desire to heal and reconnect her family but she appeared pushy and vain and far too occupied with appearances for me to really like her.

Nick was also nice enough, and I did like him much more than Kate. His struggles were easier for me to understand and relate to - trying to make it in a world that thinks bad of you because of a family scandal was not easy. In a way he was similar to Kate in his ambition to succeed but he was also feeling guilt and pain over having to give up his brother. This made him more human in my eyes and made me like him so much more.

I'm also not a big fan of the way their romance happened, all the pretending, lying to oneself did not work very well for me. I very much prefer the openness and honesty of Will's and Marths's stories to Nick and Kate agreeing that they are not suited for each other and yet, they go ahead being together behind everybody's back.

I miss the breathtaking beauty and intensity of the previous romances in this series but this one is still a good enough installment and fans the Blackshear family will hopefully enjoy it more than me.
Profile Image for HR-ML.
1,065 reviews39 followers
May 20, 2019
England 1817.

Nick, a barrister, felt shamed by his younger brother Will
who wed an ex-courtesan, which adversely effected Nick's
birth family's social connections. Also Nick received fewer
referrals from solicitors on law cases & Nick's goal was to
eventually win a MP seat. Nick's barrister mentor Charles,
had a beautiful daughter Kate who schemed & dreamed to-
wed a titled gent & facilitate her dad's reconciliation w/ his
brother the earl. Why didn't she 1st ask dad his wishes?
Why did she think she knew best? She wrote to the earl's
wife several times until she was invited to her home. This
woman she cherished meeting acted condescending and
blunt to the point of rudeness.

Kate considered her beauty her dowry. She bragged about
her beauty and her effect on men. At one event, a beaux
absconded (with a sexy widow) & left Kate w/o a man for
the supper dance. A stranded beauty? Unthinkable! About
2/3 into the story, Kate grew a conscience RE her treat-
ment of others. Kate's self-reflection quickly grew old.
In a pivital scene, where the couple decided to make love
(?) Kate bitched to herself that: Nick had no servants to
start a fire, & he needed better quality furniture. Really?
She reminded me of a Regency version of a Material Girl.

I paired Nick instead with Louisa, a smart, loyal, observant,
compassionate woman, who enjoyed her haircut and more
flattering clothes. As a bonus, her brother was a MP.

This author writes unique, well-paced stories. A real words-
smith. But this h felt too superficial & too managing to me.
Would this HEA last??

Profile Image for Teresa.
1,048 reviews25 followers
July 23, 2019
3.5 stars
While this was my least favorite of the three books, I was still engaged and enjoyed it because of Grant's stellar writing. I just adore the way she develops stories and characters, and she has knack for writing in a way that I completely lose myself in. I did struggle with Kate, despite understanding her reasons for her actions. In less capable writing hands, I'd like have despised her. But regardless, if was still hard to spend 70% of the book off and on frustrated with a main character. I was happy, however, that parts of the ramifications of book two carried over into book three. Despite being few, the scene between Nick and Will were lovely.

I have no idea if Cecilia Grant plans to write more books, but I sure hope so. She is a talented writer. And I would love to read a book about Viola. Her background scenes stole the show.
Profile Image for Keri.
2,041 reviews98 followers
September 21, 2015
I thought Nick and Kate were both shallow people and deserved one another. They both did eventually come to realize what was truly important in life and that was the families that had supported and loved them all their lives. I would have liked the ending to be bumped up to see where the Blackshears are in 3 or 5 years.
Profile Image for Amanda.
477 reviews1 follower
July 24, 2019
When I reviewed Cecilia Grant previously, I mentioned how she seems to delight in turning tropes on their ears. A Woman Entangled is the last book in her Blackshear Family series, and Grant's target here is perfect.

With overt nods to both Pride and Prejudice and Emma, Grant uses the romance of Kate Westbrook and Nick Blackshear to make larger points about vanity, respectability, and expectations. What I find particularly interesting about her romances is that, while her books are in company with other top-quality Regency romances that feature socially non-conforming characters to highlight the oppressiveness of structural social inequality, Grant's approach is more harsh, less escapist. This is demonstrated to great effect in this book: following the events of the second in the series, A Gentleman Undone, in which the male Blackshear hero marries a former mistress/courtesan-type, the reputation of the Blackshear family is completely destroyed. Beyond losing all social standing, the scandal has affected the career of Nick Blackshear, barrister, whose caseload has dropped considerably as he is recommended to clients substantially less often. The eldest Blackshear, along with his wife and his daughters are outcasts, and they fear for the girls' marriage prospects. As we are amply reminded, Regency women who are not themselves wealthy heiresses live and die by the quality of their marriage prospects, so the romance that readers so treasured and cheered for in the last book is now a dark cloud over the rest of the family.

Similarly marred by scandal is the Westbrook family. Though Kate's father is an earl's son, he married a stage actress, and got cast out of his family for their trouble. Never mind that their marriage is happy and healthy and they love each other, because actresses are trash or whatever. Kate, the oldest daughter of their happy union, is exceptionally beautiful. She turns heads wherever she goes, but she's never been courted by anyone of the peerage, as should befit her status as the earl's granddaughter. And that brings me to the thing I really loved about this book. Because other books -- and other books I have loved, to be sure -- like giving the unconventional girls their place in the sun. The wallflowers, the bluestockings, the ones who want to marry for love, who would never dream of chasing a title. But this book actually chooses to humanize the beautiful, seemingly vain, ambitious title-hunter who distances herself from lesser connections. In doing so, Grant deconstructs a couple of really insidious tropes, and I'll just quote the book directly here because they are some fist-pump worthy moments.

He eyed her sideways, one brow arching as he lifted his cup. “I hadn’t noticed you to have much use for modesty of any kind.”
So he was in that sort of mood, was he? Good. She could keep up with all the plaguing he cared to throw her way. “Ah, I take your meaning.” She shaped all her features into an exaggerated show of comprehension. “You think me vain of my looks.”
“No, Miss Westbrook. Think suggests an element of doubt. And that particular doubt, in my acquaintance with you, was long since done away with...”
“... I must say, you gentlemen are very vexing in your expectations of us.” A small toss of her head would not go amiss here, so she added it. “A man wants a lady to be beautiful, but to drift about in ignorance of the fact until the day he can come along and enlighten her. And all the while, a well-looking lady is subjected to such incessant attentions and courtesies from the lot of you as can leave her in no doubt of her appeal... The trying part is the inconsistency, the inherent contradiction in what gentlemen would like us to be. There’s simply no such thing as a beautiful woman who’s unaware of her beauty, unless she’s monumentally oblivious. More likely she’s feigning her ignorance in order to snare a credulous man in a web woven out of his own illogical expectations.”

And, I mean, right??? Sit down, One Direction, because rigid beauty standards are difficult enough to navigate without also being expected to be disingenuous when you know you've surmounted the impossible odds of performing femininity correctly.

... if she were ever to write a novel, it would be the opposite of a love story. Her hero and heroine would choose duty over their hearts’ desire, that their children need never be taxed for a romantic indulgence that was none of their own...
Yes, the very opposite of a romance would be the story to warm her heart. Something full of prudent choices and practical considerations. Something where people consulted their heads and kept a tight rein on their sentiments...
Men thought her unfeeling, she knew. Heartless, Mr. Blackshear had pronounced her, the last time he’d come to call. Of course he’d laughed as he’d said it, good-natured and brotherly, though they both knew he had reason to mean it.
Well, be that as it would. She carried enough already, what with worrying for her younger sisters’ welfare, scheming to make connections that could better all their prospects, and striving to somehow mend the great rift in Papa’s family. She had neither time nor energy enough to feel guilty for every young man she’d disappointed. They’d surely all go on to find girls who could afford the luxury of marrying for love, and they’d be happier than they ever could have been with her.
Beauty faded, after all, and with it, the love it had inspired.

I love this passage, too, because it demonstrates two key things:

1) Kate is practical, she's smart, and she's empathetic. The quote follows a section where Kate has just learned that one of her younger sisters is tormented by her peers at the seminary where she has daily lessons. The reason for singling her out is her sordid family history, and her "low" birth. Kate knows that until someone, namely her, mends the family rift and sees her nuclear family re-accepted by the rest of the Westbrooks, that her sensitive younger sister will have to continue to endure this cruelty. Furthermore, she also knows that, like the nieces of Nick Blackshear, their marriage prospects are dim as things stand, and since at least she is recognized as a renowned beauty, perhaps she stands a fighting chance of making an advantageous match. The daughter who sacrifices herself for the good of her family is not a new heroine archetype in romance either, but Kate's depiction reads as new because of how, on the surface, she seems to so perfectly fit the stereotype that's frequently the antagonist of the quieter, more self-effacing heroines.

2) The passage recognizes the emotional labor that women disproportionately take on in interpersonal relationships -- she spends so much time worrying about the black stain on her family and how to overcome it -- and appropriately redirects the awkward fallout from shallow demands on her energy back to the people it comes from. For all that men gripe about the pain of being rejected, women -- particularly beautiful women -- experience blowback as well for not being more considerate of their feelings. In truth, men who are only besotted with a woman's looks aren't feeling anything very deeply at all, so Kate is correct by refusing to feel guilty for superficial hurt feelings that will quickly enough fade.

The road that Kate and Nick take to get together is a difficult one that is marked by the contrasting highs and lows that are gifted, and then inflicted, on the other by people who know each other well enough to hit their marks. It takes both characters a bit of coming to terms with their own family scandals before they can understand the other better, but along the way there is hurt, misunderstanding, and plenty of seething sexual tension.

Grant's characters find ways to carve out spaces of happiness for themselves, but they feel the consequences of flouting social mores and, as such, these books feel very unflinchingly authentic in a way that many of Grant's contemporaries either aren't as concerned about or don't achieve. The Blackshear books are romances and therefore have HEAs, but outside of that, they're light on wish-fulfillment and feel more measured. With her name-dropping of Jane Austen in this book, I rather think Cecilia Grant does a good job mimicking some of Austen's sensibilities; Austen would recognize the Regency and the people in this story.
Profile Image for Emma.
144 reviews27 followers
February 18, 2023
I loved this so much? I kind of suspected that I would think less of it than the first two Blackshears, if only because I had imagined some frustration with the plotting is why Cecilia Grant stopped writing historicals (the way you can see Sherry Thomas sort of get frustrated with the amnesia plot in Tempting the Bride). But this was lovely!

Maybe not quite an Emma-Woodhouse-Experiences-a-Consequence book (Someone to Hold, Slightly Scandalous or The Earl I Ruined) because you never really rooting for Kate to learn a lesson so that you can keep on loving her. Her vanity is incredibly pragmatic and tailored to her situation. Even Nick doesn't see her as silly for thinking so highly of her charm, it is just a truth about her that she is trying to make the best with.

Two little bits wrecked me: "He hadn't known his paper was wanting for quality." and "When she married, she would never see her husband do this. Some maid or maids would be responsible for all the household’s fires, and she and the man she married would sit in tasteful chairs at a comfortable distance from the flames. Never side by side on the bricks."

So sad to be done with this trilogy, even though I love all of these books. Cecilia write another book!! I would do so much word of mouth for her.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 254 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.