A Woman Entangled
by Cecilia Grant
(Bantam, $7.99, PG-13) ISBN 978-0345532565
***
A Woman Entangled is a romance where the conversation the two leads have at the end should have taken place at the beginning, and the reader spends the entire book wondering when these two will actually start to communicate. Add to it a vain, insipid heroine, and it became a chore at times to continue reading. Luckily, the author writes beautifully, and it softened the impact.

Kate Westbrook is beautiful, and she knows it. Good thing, because itís her ticket to riches and position in Society. Kate is an earlís granddaughter, but her father was disowned by his family for marrying an actress. Heís since become a highly-regarded barrister, and the marriage is a happy one, but Kate feels the sting of being ignored by the ton. The solution is to snare a titled gentleman, one who will also sponsor her sisters.

Kate manages to finally gain an audience with her aunt, who proposes to take Kate to various social events in which she might make herself available as a ladiesí companion. Itís not quite what Kate was hoping for, but she reasons that, if she attends as many balls and soirees as possible, she might attract the attention of an eligible peer. Her father worries that sheíll be the target of predatory men, and asks an old family friend to keep an eye on her.

Nick Blackshear once hoped to court Kate, but she firmly rebuffed him. Now a successful barrister himself, Nick agrees to help Kateís father. Nick has a scandal in his own life, one that has caused Society to shun him: his brother married a courtesan. As Kate and Nick attend various parties, they begin to fall for one another. But Kate wants a title, and Nick canít bring himself to explain the scandal in his family.

Lovely though the prose was, I had a hard time finishing this book. Kate was annoying and immature, and her navel-gazing about her beauty became tiresome very quickly. I realize the author wanted to show Kateís character growth, and by the end of the book she had somewhat redeemed herself, but it was a long journey. Nick fared slightly better, stuck with the fallout from his brotherís actions and hoping to create a decent life for himself. But in his quest for that life, he had deliberately turned his back on his brother, something that didnít endear him to me. Nick spent too much time musing that Kate must surely have heard about the scandal, and he could never aspire to win her. The fact that the ton held actresses and courtesans with roughly the same level of disdain and contempt didnít seem to cross his mind.

The two flawed leads eventually find their way to a sexual relationship that felt rather gratuitous. Kate is utterly calculating in her quest, so asking me to believe that sheíd throw caution to the winds and lose her virginity to Nick didnít work, not if she was planning to snag herself a wealthy peer.

I understand the author wanted to show Kate and Nick discovering the value of family and loyalty, etc. Itís a credit to her storytelling ability that I kept reading A Woman Entangled, but Kate and Nick were just too hard for me to like and I never really warmed up to them. That said, Cecilia Grant has a wonderful way with her prose and Iíd gladly pick up her next book.

--Cathy Sova


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