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Enlightenment Trilogy by Joanna Chambers

ProvokedWhy I read it:  I’ve had my eye on this series for a while.  I knew from the author that there was no HEA until the third book and that by the end of the first book, the protagonists are apart.  That being the case, I decided to wait until the third book was out before I read any of them. That way I could get my HEA fix.  While there are no cliffhangers, and book two does have a kind of happy for now ending, the big payoff is in book three.

I decided to review them all together because I think it is a story in three parts. Unless the writing style doesn’t work for a particular reader, anyone who picks up Provoked will read Beguiled and Enlightened as well.  I read them one after the other and I suspect new readers are likely to do the same.

Necessarily, the blurbs for the second and third books contain some spoilerish things for the previous stories but given that readers know that it is a romantic trilogy, I don’t think they give that much away.

Provoked

Lowborn David Lauriston lacks the family connections needed to rise in Edinburgh’s privileged legal world. Worse, his latest case—defending weavers accused of treason—has brought him under suspicion of harbouring radical sympathies.

Troubled by his sexuality, tormented by memories of a man he once platonically loved, David lives a largely celibate life—until a rare sexual encounter with a compelling stranger turns his world on its head.

Cynical and worldly, Lord Murdo Balfour is more at home in hedonistic London than dingy, repressed Edinburgh. Unlike David, he intends to eventually marry while continuing to enjoy the company of men whenever he pleases. Yet sex with David is different. It’s personal, intimate, and instead of extinguishing his desire, it only leaves him hungry for more.

As David’s search for the man who betrayed the weavers deepens, he begins to suspect that his mysterious lover has more sinister reasons for his presence in Edinburgh. The truth could leave his heart broken…and more necks stretching on the gallows.

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  I’m really glad I waited for all three books before I read this one. While it is the necessary first chapter and provides context to the relationship between David and Murdo, it doesn’t have a satisfying ending in terms of romance.  The story was complete – the mystery regarding the agent provocateur was resolved and there really was no other way for the story to end – neither man was remotely read for a happy ending but my romance loving soul was not soothed.  I was very happy to be able to move straight Beguiled.  It would have been a mistake for me to read Provoked when it was first released.

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