Thursday, April 25, 2013

Behind the Courtesan by Bronwyn Stuart + Featured Freebie

Behind the CourtesanWhen courtesan Sophia Martin returns to the village she fled as a young woman, she knows it won't be a happy reunion--but she can't refuse her brother's request to attend his expectant wife. Trapped until the baby arrives, she must navigate the social rift she caused when she left to pursue a disreputable life--and keep the true reason for her departure from the man she once loved, the bastard son of the Duke who ruined her.

Blake Vale has never forgotten Sophia, but he can't accept the decisions she made, the courtesan's life she leads, or the fact she's cast aside her true self. Plain old Sophia has to be inside this hardened woman somewhere, and he's determined to make her see she doesn't need rich men to be happy, and that their future has nothing to do with the past.

When the dukedom suddenly falls within his reach, Blake must come to terms with his own past and his birthright, and what that means for his future...and Sophia.

My Rating: 2.5/5

And okay book, but I didn't really get into it. I liked it, but it wasn't all the way there for me.

I liked how the idea for this book was different within the world of historical romance. Though there have been several with courtesan heroines, there are few that do it quite like this. I has high hopes for this book, but it fell a little short.

The problem was that I couldn't connect with the characters. 
With Sophia, I admired her strength and her ability to defy the odds. But I couldn't understand why she chose to become a courtesan. Why didn't she go to relatives, friends, anyone at all for help? Why didn't she chose a different job-maid, governess. I kind of understood her reasoning, but it did't seem to justify her actions entirely. And I didn't get why she got off the wagon in town already having consciously decided to be mean to Blake. That didn't make sense. If anyone had a right to be angry at the beginning (note, only at the beginning), it was Blake. So, while a liked her, I didn't connect with her. 

And Blake was so frustrating. At first, I understood why he would be angry. The girl he loved ran off and became a courtesan seemingly for no reason. He had every right to be angry. But, after a while, I thought that it became excessive. After she helped him at the inn and showed very clearly that she wasn't a greedy whore, he still threw insults at her. And not just sidelong comments. Straight out, mean, nasty, extremely offensive insults. Sometimes, he showed that he could be sweet, so I was torn between wanting to shake some sense into him and adoring his sweeter side. 

Obviously, the issues between these two killed a lot of the traditional romance-wooing, flirting, falling in love. But, the romance was still okay. There were definitely sparks between them but it felt tainted by all the drama in their relationship.

The plot was fast paced and the story had me interested. And learning about the characters' pasts had me hooked. There were a few surprises. And the ending was satisfying happy.

Behind the Courtesan was a good book. I liked it, though it had its problems. Romance lovers, I would recommend you try this book, though it may be a borrow instead of a buy.

*Thanks to Netgalley and Carina Press for a copy!
Featured Freebie:
Today, I have a historical romance novella that I really like: The Handfasting by Jenna Stone. Go forth and get it for free!

Highland warrior Gavin Mackinnon has found the woman that he wants to spend the rest of his life with - now he is forced by the evils of war to leave her behind.
English beauty Emma Abernathy is high-spirited and feisty - the perfect match for Gavin. Together they discover a love so deep that it threatens to consume them.

With no time for a proper wedding, Gavin seeks to protect Emma with the safety of his name, also giving her his heart to safe-keep. They are handfasted, bound together in marriage for a year and a day. Gavin and Emma share one precious night together before he leaves for war - losing themselves in the depths of their passion and savoring the joy of their love.

Gavin vows to fight with every shred of his being to return safely home to Emma.

Will the strength of Emma's love be enough to bring her husband back from the horrors of war?

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