Wild on Books - Book Reviews



Claiming the Courtesan

Anna Campbell

















Release Date:
March 27, 2007

Historical Romance


Bookmark Rating:

Reviewed by
Jennifer Ray

Review Posted:
June 2008


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! 


NoteThis review was originally written by Jennifer Ray for another review site.  It is being reposted at Wild on Books.


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