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When a man loses his heart, he has no choice but to follow…
Enlightenment, Book 1
Lowborn David Lauriston lacks the family connections needed to rise in Edinburgh’s privileged legal world. Worse, his latest case—defending weavers accused of treason—has brought him under suspicion of harbouring radical sympathies.
Troubled by his sexuality, tormented by memories of a man he once platonically loved, David lives a largely celibate life—until a rare sexual encounter with a compelling stranger turns his world on its head.
Cynical and worldly, Lord Murdo Balfour is more at home in hedonistic London than dingy, repressed Edinburgh. Unlike David, he intends to eventually marry while continuing to enjoy the company of men whenever he pleases. Yet sex with David is different. It’s personal, intimate, and instead of extinguishing his desire, it only leaves him hungry for more.
As David’s search for the man who betrayed the weavers deepens, he begins to suspect that his mysterious lover has more sinister reasons for his presence in Edinburgh. The truth could leave his heart broken…and more necks stretching on the gallows.
Warning: Contains mystery and danger set in 1822 Scotland, and a forbidden love between two men that will leave you on the edge of your seat—until the next book
Confession time: I’m writing this review after having already read book 2 in the series. I usually NEVER do this. I usually write a review immediately after reading a book…and definitely before reading another one…and forbid myself before reading another one in the series. But…I just couldn’t stop reading…
And honestly…it makes a difference.
I really enjoyed Provoked. I say it over and over again: I don’t read Historicals. And then I always get a raving recommendation from someone (in this case, KJ Charles) and I feel I must. I begrudgingly, kicking and screaming, open up said Historical…and I, 4 times out of 5, fall in love. (shhh…don’t tell anyone…apparently I love Historicals!)
Provoked feels…dark…to me. I don’t think it’s the intention. It’s really more the period and how unacceptable it was, and dangerous no less, to be gay. Men often loathed themselves for being ‘unnatural’ and reduced themselves to seedy encounters in dark alleys. This just makes me feel…sad. And I had anxiety throughout the whole book, terrified that they’d get caught.
Despite this underlying emotion for me, I truly came to love David and Balfour. Their brief interactions were so FILLED with desire…both acted upon and not. And their growing attraction…from physical to more…was delicious to read.
All the side stories that filled out the information about their lives were interesting and entertaining. A historical romance that included political radicals, assassination plots, childhood heartache, class/society struggles…and closeted men trying to find lives that include room for their ‘proclivities’…all melded together so engagingly by Joanna Chambers.
The ending was abrupt and should I have left it at that, I would have rated this book 3.5 stars. Solid. Really good.
Ami is reviewing book 2, Beguiled, next week. But, I will just say this…do NOT read Provoked as a stand-alone. Read it with the intention of reading the entire series. After having read book 2, which I found PHENOMENAL, and which just made the foundation set in book 1 THAT. MUCH. BETTER…I’m bumping the rating.