Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Provoked (Enlightenment #1) [Murdo & David] by Joanna Chambers

Really enjoyed this one! I had mixed feelings about it since I'm not usually into Historical Romance and I guess I was really giving it a go because it's a MM romance, something that was bound to be different than the "average" Historical Romance novel - and it sure was. It was beautiful in a heart breaking way. be warned it doesn't have a happy ending, yet from reading reviews I understand t's simply not meant as a stand alone - you must read the 2 other installment in the series to get the whole love story between David and Murdo. This book is only the beginning that gives as a glimpse to who they are, what the crave and know they cannot really have. 

The story begins in Stirling Scotland where David Lauriston, a junior advocate, is watching the hanging and beheading of two young men who supposedly apposed the government. David was their advocate but though he did his best, he couldn't show their innocence. Right in this horrible place and time David meets Lord Murdo Balfour for the first time. Their meeting is unforgettable for the both of them, though what they share in a dark alley wasn't uncommon for them. Gay as they were, they could find outlet for their desires only this way, with strangers in a deserted place. 

David had been struggling with his desires all his life, trying to ignore them and not act upon them yet he is too noble to even consider marrying a woman he knows he will never desire. Murdo on the other hand thinks differently, he is willing to get his release wherever he can and isn't opposed to marrying a woman, forming a family even if there will be no desire between him and the woman he chooses. I think it's a basic difference between them that shows how much they DON'T match. David is a man of ideals while Murdo is a man who simply acts on his passions. Maybe it's also due to the fact that Murdo comes from money and David grew in a little farm and had to work his ass off to be able to study and now he is still somewhat struggling to stay above water. Yet these two are attracted to one another and can't keep away. 

I'm getting ahead of myself! We were in Stirling, right? well, after their encounter they each go their own separate ways. Since David is our sole POV we go back with him to Edinburgh where his mentor (who is also quite a radical in the cases he takes) offers to introduce him to a distinguished senior advocate who can truly help him climb the professional ranks. Mr. Patrick Chalmers truly appreciates the intelligent hard working David and even secretly wants David to marry his daughter Elizabeth who actually shows her interest in him, an interest David doesn't really know how to handle. 

But except for the romantic or rather moral battle David has to fight against himself and his true desires, he has a mystery to solve, one he is reluctant to take part in, yet he does, because he is a caring man who can't say no to a pleading friend. Euan MacLennan is the brother of a man David was unable to exonerate and he claims he knows his brother (and his friends who are already dead..) were tricked by a man called Robert Lees, this man is supposedly a government officer who came to "flush out" radicals BEOFRE they actually did any damage. So Euan has an idea how to find this Lees guy since there is some connection between him and a daughter of an advocate and who knows advocated? right, David does.. David mostly helps him because he thinks there is nothing to discover yet when things lead to Murdo whom he surprisingly meet at Mr. Chalmers' house he isn't sure what to do or how to react. 

Just a side note here.. It really took me a LONG time to understand the whole side story of the guys that were hanged and beheaded. I didn't understand really what they were accused of or what they actually DID that they were punished so severely, I also didn't understand the part Lees had in all of it.. I"m still not sure if I understand all of it.. which is why I'm reducing half a star from my review. I wouldn't have reduced more because in the end all the little details doesn't matter, the whole plot behind it is what matters and that was explained thoroughly and since the book was AWESOME I didn't mind so much my confusion over this small matter. 

The interactions between Murdo and David are drenched with desire even when they don't act upon it (which is most of the time since there are people around them..) it was quite refreshing (considering modern times..) and also heart breaking when you realize how much is at stake for the both of them if they were found out but also, since we are in David's head we hear his struggle with his beliefs. There is also a sad little story of the first and only man David fell in love with and the way it ended which left David with no real hope to ever be truly happy or content in life. I guess it was a wake up call for him to realize what he is, what he desires, which is NOT something society or god can accept.

It was truly a beautiful heart breaking START of a love story. I enjoyed the way the relationship between David and Murdo was building, the fact that both of them didn't expect more than one encounter yet after they still wanted more, and another encounter wasn't enough either, especially as it was so sensitive and intimate in a way that left them emotionally exposed. With each time they meet there is more under the surface than there was before yet they still act distant because there isn't a real other choice for both of them, each with his own reasons. 

The ending was a bit abrupt. But as I said above, it's suppose to be a part of a romance not a full story, yet the way it was ended, with a very sad hopeless note somehow gives the opposite - a hope for the both of them, to meet again and rekindle the relationship they deserve to have. 

Additional Details: Kindle Ebook, 184 pages, 17-18 February 2015 / On GoodReads
Enlightenment by Joanna Chambers is a MM Historical Romance. It's my first attempt at Historical Romance and I have fallen in love with the genre through Murdo and David's story. The story of these two spans over 3 books (and 2 novels) than continues to new couples. I hope it never ends!

We begin the romance between the junior advocate David Lauriston who came from a small insignificant village and Lord Murdo Balfour who always had his desires in his reach in an insignificant sexual encounter not thinking much of it, and not expecting to either see each other again or the sparks that would still fly when they do. 

David and Murdo seems VERY different in their views of the world around them and not only because they came from a different background. It mostly has to do with the ideals each lives by. While Murdo confesses he expects to get married and fake a family life (while having men on the side) David doesn't plan on getting married or having a family since he couldn't possibly consider betraying his marriage vows. He also tries his best NOT to have sexual encounters with men but sometimes his desires gets the best of him, which is exactly what happened with Murdo. 

The series contains 3 rather short novels (round 200 paged) and one very short novella in between. It's not meant to be read separately - you only get the HEA in the very end. In the first installment it's mostly about convenient sexual encounters yet it slowly progresses into friendship in the second installment and on the third special circumstance temporarily allows them to actually become true lovers. Yet it feels that it could only be temporary. How can them manage a relationship in a world that doesn't accept gay people. Some things have a higher price than others, and some prices are totally worth the outcome.

It was beautifully written, the romance was touching and realistic. I loved both David and Murdo, yet Murdo is my favorite of the two. As I'm not a romantic person per se, I really appreciated Murdo ACTED on his feeling with true loving intentions, he didn't seem overly romantic when you think about it, which is exactly what I enjoyed so much. He was true to his heart and wasn't ashamed of wanting and claiming, no matter the price, what he truly craved - David. 

Joanna has gifted us the perfect epilogue of the two in The Bequest. You can read it for free through sighing up to her newsletter.

Unnatural is a spin off novel of Iain Sinclair whom we've met in the previous installment finally finding his HEA with James Hart his childhood friend. It can be read as a stand alone but I don't advice is if you plan on reading Murdo and David's story later on (there's quite a spoiler in the one scene Iain meets Murdo and David).
Restored continues the series with a new couple - The Duke of Avesbury - Henry Asquith and Kit Redford. We've me Kit before as he is the owner of the "Redford" (a club for men of a certain persuasion). Kit used to be Henry's "kept boy" but when Henry's life takes a turn he leaves everything and everyone who isn't his immediate family to a remote estate only to return 18 years later and realize what he had promised Kit all those years ago was broken leaving Kit, a man he has come to love even if was forced to leave behind, to fend for himself. It took Kit time and much pain to find his footing again and make something of himself. Now so many years later when Kit finds out what truly happened from Henry's perspective he is understanding but it doesn't change the past and what happened to him due to Henry's carelessness in trusting the wrong man. They both have changed so much, yet they are still the same  - they might want something different from what they had before but they never stopped loving each other. This TRULY can be read as a standalone and I don't have enough words to compliment how absolutely amazing it was. A MUST READ.
1. Provoked (Published 23 July 2013) ★★★★½
1.5. Season's Pass (Free Download here) (Published 24 October 2014) ★★★★★ 
2. Beguiled (Published 24 December 2013)  ★★★★★
3. Enlightened (Published 6 May 2014)  ★★★★★
3.5  The Bequest - Murdo and David's Epilogue (Published 14 June 2020)  ★★★★★ 
4. Unnatural [Iain Sinclair & James Hart] (Published 24 November 2015) ★★★★★ 
5. Restored [Henry Asquith & Kit Redford] (Published 28 October 2020) ★★★★★ 

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