A Gentleman Undone
by Cecilia Grant
He needs £3,000 to set his future in shipping and help the widow of the man he killed in the war. She needs £2,000 to gain her independence from men. With her mathematical genius, together they can work the gaming hells to fund their dreams. In A Gentleman Undone, Cecelia Grant's second book, she has once again taken an oft-used plot and given it some unique twists.
The Blackshear family is not very wealthy and as the youngest son Will needs to make his own way in the world. As with most younger sons, Will joined the army and fought against Napoleon's forces. He felt responsible for each and every one of his men, so when he finds one of his men wounded, and barely breathing in a ditch, Will carries him to the nearest hospital. When that surgeon refused to help the soldier, Will carried him to three other surgeons hoping to save his life. Alas, none of them would help a paralyzed man who was barely alive. Blaming himself for the man's death and promising to help out his wife and son, Will immerses himself in the hells looking for some quick blunt.
Lydia Slaughter is a courtesan who enjoys sex. Her current protector enjoys dragging her into dark, secluded places for sex. On one such occasion Will happens upon them and can't take his eyes from the sight of Lydia enjoying herself. Sitting on her protector's lap while they are playing cards, Lydia naturally takes over his hand once he falls asleep, and starts winning. After being fleeced of nearly £200 Will confronts Lydia about her cheating. Lydia knows percentages and how to count cards, as Will and Lydia continually cross paths at the gaming table she eventually comes up with the idea of them teaming up to get the funds they need.
A Gentleman Undone did not strike the emotional chord in me that Cecilia Grant's debut book did, but I thoroughly enjoyed the pairing of Will and Lydia. Once again we have a heroine who won't allow herself to be hurt again by love. She has lost everything she once cared about, and now survives at the whims of men. In the end, she finally learned to put other's needs before her own in a truly selfless act. It was refreshing to see a courtesan heroine who enjoyed sex, and not just in desperate straits.
Will blames himself for that soldier's death, even though he went through hell trying to save him and believes he has lost his soul. He has mostly distanced himself from his brothers and sisters because he cannot face them anymore than he can face himself. Will could feel himself falling for Lydia, yet still tried to keep his distance knowing that she belonged to another. I look forward to seeing what Cecelia Grant brings us in the future. This new author has a way with words and plots that I really like and she is now on my auto-buy list. Don't miss A Gentleman Undone this summer, and if you haven't already read her debut book, A Lady Awakened, run out and get it now.
Reviewed by: Valarie Pelissero
“A broken woman and a soulless man find solace at the gaming tables.”
June 2012, 368 pages
Lydia Slaughter understands the games men play-both in and out of the bedroom. Not afraid to bend the rules to suit her needs, she fleeces Will Blackshear outright. The Waterloo hero had his own daring agenda for the gaming tables of London's gentlemen's clubs. But now he antes up for a wager of wits and desire with Lydia, the streetwise temptress who keeps him at arm's length.
A kept woman in desperate straits, Lydia has a sharp mind and a head for numbers. She gambles on the sly, hoping to win enough to claim her independence. An alliance with Will at the tables may be a winning proposition for them both. But the arrangement involves dicey odds with rising stakes, sweetened with unspoken promise of fleshly delights. And any sleight of hand could find their hearts betting on something neither can afford to risk: love.