March 27, 2007
From impoverished beginnings, Verity has risen in station to become London’s
most sought-after courtesan, known as ‘Soraya.’ She has everything most women
wish for – money, beautiful clothes, expensive jewelry – and yet all of it is
simply a means to an end as far as she is concerned. For Verity has plans to
end her reign as esteemed courtesan as soon as her contract with the Duke of
Kylemore expires, and retire to a much simpler, more respectable life in the
country, where no one has ever heard the name Soraya.
But escaping the Duke of Kylemore is easier said than done. The Duke has been
most pleased with their arrangement, and has no desire to see it end, even
though the contract has expired. Furious to find Soraya has disappeared after
their year has passed, he begins plotting his vengeance through total possession
of his runaway mistress. He will do whatever it takes to have her, even when
that means kidnapping…
For some time, many of my reading friends have raved about new author Anna
Campbell’s historical romance novel, CLAIMING THE COURTESAN.
After the first few insisted I must read it, I agreed with them wholeheartedly,
since we share very similar tastes in reading material. On my next book
shopping trip, I made certain to pick up a copy of this intriguing new work of
romantic fiction. I have to confess now that it was some time after that before
I actually made time to read this book, as my reading pile for review books is
always the first priority. Imagine my utter delight when I discovered that we
had a request from the publisher to review this very book still awaiting a
volunteer to review it! It was the perfect excuse to move Ms. Campbell’s debut
novel up to the top of my to be read stack.
I could kick myself for not reading it sooner. This book was one of the most
gripping historical romances I have read in some time. Campbell has penned an
unapologetic tale of two damaged souls who have resigned themselves to never
enjoying love and marriage for themselves. Yet in each other, they discover the
missing piece of their hearts and the path to healing and redemption.
The road there is hard for this couple, however. There are some decidedly dark
aspects to this romance, and romance traditionalists may not enjoy the story as
much as others. This is not the sweet little romance where the hero woos the
heroine, saves the day, and they live happily ever after. These are real
people, with their warts and foibles exposed for all to see. The hero most
certainly shows his worst time and again – but through it all, we also see his
pain, his vulnerability. We learn of the tragic background that brought him to
a place where he reacts as he does to the fear of losing his Soraya.
Verity struggles to overcome her past as Soraya. She wants desperately to
separate the two sides of her personality, to lock Soraya away forever. But she
finally discovers she can never truly be free until she embraces both sides of
herself with open arms and finds a balance between the two personas.
I loved this story. ABSOLUTELY loved it. Of course, I have absolutely no rules
when it comes to my stories, not even romance. I like a happy ending, but I
don’t always require my stories to provide one. I most admire stories that
don’t cater to what the author thinks their audience wants, but instead tell the
‘true’ story of these characters as seen in the author’s imagination. That is
exactly what Anna Campbell has delivered in CLAIMING THE COURTESAN.
All that said, I need to point out that this book truly does have a most
satisfying happy ending. The hero does redeem himself, and the pair set off for
a life together that is sure to be full of love and happiness. After the trials
and tribulations this couple experienced along the way, they deserved their
well-earned happy ending.
I will be anxiously awaiting Campbell’s next release. Her books will be at the
top of my buy list and my TBR pile now. You may count this reviewer among the
fans who will be buying her December 2007 release, UNTOUCHED, on
release day – unless, of course, the publisher happens to send an ARC to me
before then, in which case I will unashamedly play leapfrog over my teammates to
snatch it up! Think of bridesmaids leaping for the bouquet toss at a wedding
reception – yep, that’s surely what I’ll look like!
Note: This review was originally
written by Jennifer Ray for another review site. It is being reposted at
Wild on Books.
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