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Friday, May 27, 2011

Book Review - A Courtesan's Guide to Getting Your Man

I had a very lucky streak a few months ago and won a bunch of books in various giveaways.  I am slowly making my way through them and plan to provide reviews here.

A Courtesan's Guide to Getting Your Man was won through Free Book Fridays (thanks!).  Cowritten by Celeste Bradley and Susan Donovan, this is really two novels, a modern romance and a historical romance, skillfully interwoven by two talented writers.

Piper Chase-Pierpont, a Boston museum curator, brings new meaning to the word "repressed."  With the bluest of blue Yankee blood, Piper has devoted her life so totally to her work that her sense of self, and certainly her femininity, have almost disappeared.  As she prepares for yet another stilted, conservative museum installation, Piper's life takes a sudden left turn as she literally trips over the secret diaries of one of Boston's most beloved and respected historical women.

Is it possible that Ophelia Harrington, acclaimed abolitionist and suffragette was actually The Blackbird, one of London's most notorious courtesans?  And what does that mean for Piper, repressed, lost Piper?  Should she keep her secret and preserve her job, or should she take a professional leap and tell the complete, complicated story of a woman whose secrets might be more culturally significant than her celebrity?

The novel is split between Piper's discovery of the diaries and the immediate upheaval they create in both her work and love life, and the diaries themselves, told in first person voice by Ophelia Harrington herself.  As the plots deepen and twist the novel begins to race, jumping from past to present just at the moment when the reader needs to know what is happening.  The pacing is wonderful and the resolutions deeply satisfying.

I am just going to come right out and say it, I loved this book!  I like romance novels, but they are often a bit predictable.  I get a little bored, and sometimes the perfect storylines make me a little sad and cynical.  I honestly cannot say that about this book.  I suspected one major plot mystery, but I was so engrossed in the intricacies, and let's be honest, the sex scenes, that the pages practically turned themselves.

I don't think steamy quite covers this book.  Erotic is closer to the truth!  But don't prejudge it, yet, this isn't soft pornography.  It is the plot that keeps this book going.

Face paced, layered, certainly erotic, with excellent characters - I loved it!

Bradley, Celeste and Susan Donovan. A Courtesan's Guide to Getting Your Man. St. Martin's Paperbacks. ISBN: 978-0-213-53256-7 June 2011. 384 p. Romance

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