I really like my little medieval reader, because he’s the living spit of my character Carlito from a co-written story called Tears of Heaven.
Why do we co-write? If our co-writer loses interest we’re left with 95k [or more] worth of story that’s pretty much unusable. All respect to the writers who bravely go it alone and actually get stuff FINISHED!!
I’m particularly glad that one particular writer got stuff finished. Regency romance is a bit of a cliché in historical romance terms. There’s such a lot of it about and not always well executed. Not so this week’s recommendation – the Enlightenment trilogy by Joanna Chambers.
Click on the image to go to the book. I’ve linked to Provoked, the first in the trilogy, because I got in a muddle and bought Enlightened, the third book, first and had to buy both the others, naturally. This meant that once I’d started reading Provoked I couldn’t stop until I’d read both the others too and had 36 hours or so where I didn’t get much else done and finished with a mild squint and a big silly smile. So, Provoked first, ‘kay.
Provoked has one of the most riveting and unexpected first chapters I’ve ever seen in what I thought was going to be a romance. But, of course, this isn’t a romance. This is a historical novel, with some romance and a metric fucktonne of social commentary. Compelling fictional characters are inserted without a ripple into the murky pool of early nineteenth century politics, law and cross-border contention. I don’t think I’ve read ANYTHING set in Scotland that wasn’t a rehash of something already hashed up beyond redemption by Diana Gabaldon but this is firmly Scottish, looks carefully at the aftermath of rebellion and union and while a kilt makes its appearance it’s made clear that its presence is contentious. The social mores of the time are depicted accurately but with compassion and the hacks used to get around them don’t strain my credulity.
So much for the history. The romance appealed to me as well. David, young, highly intelligent and driven to make his mark as a lawyer despite the potential disadvantage of his need to occasionally slope off to find a cock to suck, is a brilliant character. He is clever with the sort of cleverness that makes him a little bit dumb where other people are concerned – not dumb, naive. He doesn’t always read situations well but thinks he does which is a great and very believable source of conflict with casual hookup Murdo. Murdo is older, wealthy, well connected and accustomed to being ruthless to get what he wants. He is a little arrogant, which strikes sparks off David’s prickly self made pride, but has hidden vulnerabilities that become more apparent as their story develops.
I say ‘their story’ because the romance between them is the thread that ties the three books together, but each book has a clear theme beyond the romance, addressing a social issues of the time. From the use of agents provocateur to interfere in labour disputes to the plight of abused wives, the historical content strikes me as right and oh it was such a joy to see something beyond star crossed lovers. David and Murdo have to be careful in the pursuit of their desires but for the majority of each book they have other important matters on their minds. I really respect characters who can put their own sexual gratification on hold while they deal with crucial problems beyond ‘who’s got the lube’.
Word of warning – I can’t say too much, because of spoilers, but PAY ATTENTION. It’s really worth it. Also either don’t buy all three in one go, or make sure you don’t have anything else to do/anywhere to go – you won’t want to put them down.