A Gentleman Undone by Cecilia Grant

June 6, 2012 

OooH, I hates math, you shark-livered varmint!
I loved Cecilia Grant's debut novel, so I was looking forward to this one.  And, what did I get?  Well, in A Gentleman Undone I got something totally different than what I'm used to.  We have a gentleman who is not an aristocrat and we have a mistress who is really a mistress.  And, she likes sex.  And, she's had multiple partners.

Cecilia Grant's second book truly proves what I thought in her debut story: she knows how to put words down on paper.  As I said before, this story is different.  It is also dark and at times sad.  And, about two thirds of the way through I wondered just how the author was going to resolve the story and still have a HEA.

Will and Lydia - two people with really depressing pasts.  Lydia's past we've seen before in other romance novels - the tragedy of her youth that led her into prostituting herself, and the guilt she has placed on herself for her parents' deaths.  However, she also is a woman who knows what she is and she isn't ashamed of the sex that she's had in the past.  Also, in a little bit of a romance taboo moment, she does not stop having sex with the man she's with the moment Will comes into her life.  In fact, she continues to be another man's mistress long after she and Will become associates, then friends.  I found this aspect of the story and the way the author handled it to be very fascinating.  There was some nice writing there, as Lydia struggles with her growing love for Will and the realization that she cannot continue with the life she has led so far.

Then there is Will.  He also has guilt he's carrying around.  He blames himself for another's death and in this case he might be correct.  This is also a heartrending moment, when he realizes how he's contributed to his friends death.  I loved Will.  He is a Beta hero, always trying to do the right thing for everyone.  In this case, he is trying to raise money for the widow of the man who died.  He's also trying to get money for a shipping venture, another promise he made to a friend.  However, he has no money and the only way he can think of to solve that problem is to gamble.

And, this is where the two meet.  Their first encounter is a wonderfully written prelude to a great love story.  Now, I do have a quibble.  I became lost with the amount of time that was spent on how to play cards and calculate the odds, which happens to be Lydia's specialty - she's a wiz at card counting.  But, anytime math, counting, or percentages rears their ugly heads, I tune out.  My eyes glaze over and I hear a strange humming in my ears.   So, I was not able to appreciate what I'm sure was some good writing in this part.

This is a very character-driven book.  The main couple are not your standard romance couple.  They are both deeply complicated, not always likeable and an odd mix of honorable and dishonorable.  A Gentleman Undone is a roller coaster ride, very emotional and very dark, but I do recommend it.  Just have some tissue near by.

Sensuality Rating: Hot


Tracy said...

Sounds good. I'll have to check this one out. Thanks.

Melanie said...

He you!

I loved this one so much!!!
Great rev as usual. Love reading your reviews :D


Melissa said...

A great hero and heroine who are so compelling because they are so damaged. The growing friendship and love is slow burn that allows these two people to accept each other, flaws and all. I agree with your comment about the math and cards.