Title: Provoked (Enlightenment #1)
Author: Joanna Chambers
Release Date: April 25, 2017
Genre(s): Historical Romance
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Page Count: 202
Reviewed by: CrabbyPatty
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
David Lauriston is struggling to build his reputation in Edinburgh’s privileged legal world. His humble origins are enough of a hurdle, never mind his recent decision to defend a group of weavers accused of treason, prompting speculation that he may harbour radical sympathies. The last thing he should be doing is agreeing to help the brother of one of the convicted weavers find the government agent who caused his brother’s downfall.
David’s personal life is no more successful. Tormented by his forbidden desires for other men, and the painful memories of the childhood friend he once loved, David tries his hardest to live a celibate existence, castigating himself whenever his resolve slips.
But then—into David’s repressed and orderly world—bursts Lord Murdo Balfour.
Cynical, hedonistic and utterly unapologetic, Murdo could not be less like David. Whilst David refuses to entertain the prospect of entering into a loveless marriage for propriety’s sake, Murdo is determined to wed one day—and has no intention of giving up the company of other men when he does so. But as appalled as David is by Murdo’s unrepentant self-interest, he cannot resist the man’s sway.
Murdo tempts and provokes David in equal measure, distracting him from his promise to find the agent provocateur responsible for the weavers’ fate, and forcing him to acknowledge his physical desires.
But is Murdo more than a mere distraction?
Is it possible he could be the very man David is looking for?
Second edition of a book previously published by Samhain Publishing
I love a good historical romance, and there is plenty to love about Joanna Chambers’ Provoked, the first book in her Enlightenment series.
Provoked gives us two fascinating characters at opposite sides of the spectrum. Lord Murdo Balfour is a wealthy Scot with an estate in Argyllshire; David Lauriston, the son of a farmer, is an advocate (comparable to a barrister) with no safety net of wealth nor privilege. David is ashamed of his sinful “unnatural defect”; Balfour is much more pragmatic:
I don’t think the fact I want to stick my cock in the occasional arse is any business of God, the King or anyone else. I’m not harming anyone when I bugger a pretty boy—assuming the pretty boy is of age and willing. And I’m not going to flagellate myself with regret over something that brings me a great deal of pleasure. Does that answer your question?
Chambers does a wonderful job of providing background on the political powder keg in Europe during this time period (often referred to as “The Late Enlightenment”) and it appears David and Balfour also have differing political viewpoints. Balfour belongs to a world of aristocratic power and privilege for whom educating working men is a dangerous thing. David represented a group of weavers who took part in a series of protests and strikes demanding reform (known as the Radical War or the Scottish Insurrection of 1820 – a true historical event.) Agents from the British government (agents provocateurs) provoked the men into confrontation, which resulted in deaths for treason or deportation.
Throughout Provoked, David and the brother of one of the deported men try to locate one of the responsible provocateurs and they are lead to wonder if perhaps Balfour is this man. The peril and danger of finding this agent is beautifully balanced by the sexual desire Balfour arouses within David.
Chambers does a stellar job of introducing the reader to the time period and society’s expectations for men as well as women. I’m looking forward to the continuation of David and Balfour’s story as well as that of Elizabeth Chalmers, the daughter of the senior advocate with whom David works. 4.5 stars for Provoked and I’m starting Beguiled tomorrow!