Review: Blackshear Family series by Cecilia Grant


I seem to be on a roll of reading historical romance series, so here is another joint review of three books I enjoyed a lot.

Title: A Lady Awakened (Blackshear Family #1)
Author: Cecilia Grant
Date of publication: 27 Dec 2011
Genre: Historical romance

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My rating: 4 Stars


Newly widowed and desperate to protect her estate and beloved servants from her malevolent brother-in-law, Martha Russell conceives a daring plan. Or rather, a daring plan to conceive. After all, if she has an heir on the way, her future will be secured. Forsaking all she knows of propriety, Martha approaches her neighbor, a London exile with a wicked reputation, and offers a strictly business proposition: a month of illicit interludes . . . for a fee.

Theophilus Mirkwood ought to be insulted. Should be appalled. But how can he resist this siren in widow’s weeds, whose offer is simply too outrageously tempting to decline? Determined she’ll get her money’s worth, Theo endeavors to awaken this shamefully neglected beauty to the pleasures of the flesh—only to find her dead set against taking any enjoyment in the scandalous bargain. Surely she can’t resist him forever. But could a lady’s sweet surrender open their hearts to the most unexpected arrival of all . . . love?

Review by Ellie

I have had this series on my radar for a while now and somehow it was never the right time to start it. Now when I finally did it I'm so happy with my choice. 

I loved this story so much. The plot may not be the most original in historical romance but it read and new and intriguing for me. The writing won me over completely, it is elegant and beautiful, very thoughtful and engaging. 

Martha and Theo were fantastic characters - complex, rich, well developed. The deal they make seemed outrageous but it turns out not to so out of the ordinary for the times. The fact that it grew into something more can be expected but the way this happened, slowly bringing out the true nature of the characters was fascinating to read.

I liked how the romance developed slowly (despite the sex taking place early on, though you can hardly think of it in sensual or romantic terms at the beginning), how they actually got to know each other and their lives got more and more merged as the story progressed. 

The romance was not part of plan for either of them had for their future but by the end the of the book it seemed inescapable and the way the story developed did leave the reader convinced of it.

Martha and Theo are nothing alike - he is a bohemian and she is all about being proper and dutiful. Yet, it's she who proposes their deal, she who risks everything to help others in need, she who takes action, who moves on with her life as a widow on her own terms as much as possible. I loved the contrast between her opening her heart to love and sensual pleasure and his opening to caring about people, to making something with his fortune, to creating. She was the driving force behind his entrepreneur activities.

In a way they both brought out the best in each other and their interaction. I loved their dynamics and the complexity of their relationship.

It was a very sweet, very tender and very captivating feel-good historical romance which I can recommend to everyone.

Purchase links: IndieBound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Title: A Gentleman Undone (Blackshear Family #2)
Author: Cecilia Grant
Date of publication: 29 May 2012
Genre: Historical romance

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My rating: 5 Stars


Lydia Slaughter understands the games men play—both in and out of the bedroom. Not afraid to bend the rules to suit her needs, she fleeces Will Blackshear outright. The Waterloo hero had his own daring agenda for the gaming tables of London’s gentlemen’s clubs. But now he antes up for a wager of wits and desire with Lydia, the streetwise temptress who keeps him at arm’s length.

A kept woman in desperate straits, Lydia has a sharp mind and a head for numbers. She gambles on the sly, hoping to win enough to claim her independence. An alliance with Will at the tables may be a winning proposition for them both. But the arrangement involves dicey odds with rising stakes, sweetened with unspoken promise of fleshly delights. And any sleight of hand could find their hearts betting on something neither can afford to risk: love.


This second book in the series is my favourite. It's much darker and more intense than the first one and I loved every minute of it.

We have two broken characters fighting their demons who come together despite all the odds and this is just my favourite kind of romance story.

Broken war hero and courtesan may be a familiar trope in historical romance but nothing about Will and Lydia was stereotypical or predictable. Their dramatic story on many levels but it was also fitting. There was not much room for tenderness and being gentle and tentative and slow. Life had been far too harsh to both of them making it difficult for Will and Lydia to believe in love and a happy ending.

The romance in the story is unforgettable but there is also a lot more going on in plot and all of it mixed together made this a very powerful and delightful read.

There is a a strong sensual element, which is not particularly common with regard to heroines in historicals. Here is the feminist in me speaking and I can say that I very much appreciate how both the hero and heroine are portrayed as human beings equally entitle to enjoy themselves, to experience carnal pleasures. Yet, it the romance went much deeper than lust and physical attraction, Will Lydia shared secrets which they never before told anyone, they forged a bond that was really unbreakable and were truly able to give and take love to each other, to provide each other with comfort and support.

I absolutely loved the ending and found it very fitting. Things couldn't have turned perfect for everyone and some people got hurt but that was the reality of the times. That is not to say there was no HEA for the hero and heroine, rather it was the best for them.

Purchase links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Title: A Woman Entangled (Blackshear Family #3)
Author: Cecilia Grant
Date of publication: 25 June 2013
Genre: Historical romance
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My rating: 3 Stars


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.


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.

Purchase links: IndieBound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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