Tammy Walton Grant's Reviews > Her Ladyship's Companion
by Evangeline Collins (Goodreads Author)
bookshelves: hr-regency, 2011-february, dead-tree-books-to-buy, favorites, romance-historical, tropes-ruined-heroine, tropes-hero-is-a-whore
Her Ladyship's Companion was the second courtesan-themed book I read in February. The irony of reading about buying love with money right around Valentine's Day does not escape me, but perhaps the real irony is that these two books have been the most romantic I have read in months.
I LOVED this book. I loved the premise, so unusual in a historical - a reverse Pretty Woman, if you will and it was done well so that I believed it. I believed the characters: Isabella, lonely and isolated, estranged from her family, alone in her home in Scotland. Gideon, in his own way just as lonely as Isabella. No family to speak of, living a lifestyle that precludes friendships, saving every penny to someday escape the life and have a family of his own.
The sun hung low on the horizon, streaking magenta across a sky that faded to deepest midnight. One could see nothing but open acres framed in the distance by thick woods. It was pleasing to the eye but felt secluded from the world. Now he knew why he was here.
Lady Stirling was lonely.
Well, at least we have something in common, he thought sardonically. But he had long ago realized physical acts could not fill the void where a family should reside. If anything, it made the emptiness reverberate with a painful echo that drove home just how alone he was in the world.
Isabella's loneliness comes right off the page right from the beginning of the book. She blames herself for her arranged marriage, for her family's precarious financial situation and even for the fact that she is ostracized by her brothers. She believes herself to be unworthy and wicked, although the latter is completely unwarranted.
Gideon's history was so believable, his goals so realistic and his vulnerability so appealing I fell in love with him just as Bella did. The author does a beautiful job of showing how Gideon 'works' , how attentive he is to his 'client', and how he keeps his mind separate from what he does with his body. He knows almost instinctively what she needs, and most importantly when to enforce the boundaries of their relationship. Gideon has rules. No sex without contraception. He never spends the night. He never loses control. Ever.
Oh, to watch these two meet, feel their initial attraction to one another, to get to know one another, then (view spoiler)[ have lots of really, really hot sex everywhere!!!!! (hide spoiler)] and finally fall in love is really well done. The obstacles to their relationship, the misunderstandings, the heartbreak, the desperation, are all SO real. How do you give your body but not your heart? How do you keep him coming back? How do you ask him to stay? How do you quit the life? What will your family say? How would you make a life together? How do you go on when you have given up everything just for a chance to see her? How do you live when you think you will never see him again?
Of course, there is much more to the story than I have even mentioned here. Gideon and Bella are just the main part. How they got to where they are when we meet them, the person that brings them together, the people and circumstances that tear them apart, and how they manage to find each other and stay together made for a engrossing, compelling read that had me staying up way too late to finish, and made me want to sigh once I was done.
I read this twice while I had it out from the library. While I loved the book, I don't want to say it was perfect, either. There were some things that didn't hold up completely for me. The ending was maybe a little bit convenient, and on second read I thought Bella was a little bit over-the-top . I believe the term we used back in high-school was a "fuckmonster". She's a 3 orgasm girl once she gets going, and it got to be a bit much after a while.
There were other things I liked even more about the book the second time, though, and that outweighed any little things I noticed. I loved the writing. Evangeline Collins has a style I like very much. It was moody, a bit angsty, very compelling. I loved her characterizations: nuanced, with great depth and they seem very real. She lets you get to know them a bit at a time, so that you can see what each sees in the other.
I loved the book. Now that I've had to give it back to the library, I'm off to hunt down my own copy for my keeper shelf. And to buy Evangeline Collin's next book.
And while I'm on the subject, I need to say this about the cover: It is the prettiest I've seen in a long time. The couple on the cover resemble the couple in the book, and the pose evokes the story within in a subtle way that doesn't become really clear until you've finished the book. (I'll just say this - when Gideon first comes to Bowhill Park, it is Bella that pursues. It is she who falls first, and after I read the book, I saw that in the cover. Maybe it's just me, or maybe the person in charge of the cover actually read the book.)
||17.0%||"This book has the prettiest cover I've seen in while -- and my copy is a trade paperback so the picture is even bigger than usual."|
||70.0%||"This is like a reverse Pretty Woman, only a bit angstier. (And WAY hotter)." 5 comments|
||0.0%||"I know, I just read it, but it's gotta go back to the library right away." 5 comments|
"So we can add women to your short list of interests." The words rushed out of her mouth, falling over each other in her need to keep him from noticing the threatening sky.
"No. That's not correct. I didn't say women. I said you." He punctuated the last word with a tightening of his grip.
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