Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Five Umbrellas & a Bargain to Boot: The Heir by Grace Burrowes

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

4.5 stars. The Heir is only 99 cents right now for both Kindle/Nook, and as it’s been on my TBR tempting me at 6.99, I snatched it up. And OMG I think I would have paid crazy agency pricing levels for this as it’s not only GOOD, it’s also incredibly unique. Burrowes’s voice captivates and stands out from the crowded regency field. Lovers of Courtney Milan and Joanna Bourne will want to add Burrowes’s to their autobuy list as she offers the same melodic prose and deeply emotional love scenes.

The Earl is the beleaguered, overworked heir to a Duke, and Anna is his mysterious new housekeeper who creates a sanctuary for him while holding fast to her own secrets. There’s also a sweet old-fashion sensibility to both Anna and the Earl that brings in both shades of Julia Quinn and Masterpiece Theater. The Earl has this . . . restraint that’s absent in 99% of Regency heroes. He’s delightfully old fashioned, and this gives this novel a sort of timeless quality that belies its “sensual” label.

As a point of fact, I didn’t find the love scenes any steamier than the aforementioned Milan/Bourne/Tessa Dare and not quite to Elizabeth Hoyt levels. They are, however, rather creative, owing to the Earl’s reticence. He gets it—on a level that most historical heroes don’t—if Anna sleeps with him, the consequences for her are absolute. And, because he’s a decent chap, he doesn’t try to overwhelm her or persuade her. He does, however, show her some . . . options. Very nice, almost sweet options.

For her part, Anna is caring and devoted. She’s the rare heroine with whom I would actually want to reside—in a platonic sense, of course. I felt like I was immersed in the home she made for the Earl and how she transcended her position as a servant. I wanted to taste her baking and smell her flowers and sit in her pleasant rooms. Burrowes uses all five senses masterfully. I loved how she elevated these items to themes and symbols—for instance, the way she carried lemonade through the novel became a symbol of Anna’s caring for the Earl and his need for her. Beautiful.

I did find Anna a bit stubborn at the end—I felt she and the Earl both held out a bit long after the black moment, but it was in keeping with their restraint and historical sensibility. It was also shades of Joanna Bourne and others who let their characters dictate the timeline, not rote requirements of plotting. And amazingly, this is her debut novel. Like Milan, Bourne, and Dare, and Jennifer Haymore, she just bursts out the gate with this unique voice that says “I’m here. And I’m good in unexpected ways.” Snatch this up while it’s cheap, but don’t be scared to invest when the price goes back up.

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