TITLE : Enlightened
SERIES : Enlightenment, Book 3
AUTHOR : Joanna Chambers
Publisher : Samhain Publishing (BUY HERE)
Genre : M/M, Historical
Length : 230 pages e-book
Published : May 6, 2014
Rating : ★★★★★
Five months ago, David Lauriston was badly hurt helping his friend Elizabeth escape her violent husband. Since then, David has been living with his lover, Lord Murdo Balfour, while he recuperates.
Despite the pain of his injuries, David’s time with Murdo has been the happiest of his life. The only things that trouble him are Murdo’s occasional bouts of preoccupation, and the fact that one day soon, David will have to return to his legal practice in Edinburgh.
That day comes too soon when David’s friend and mentor takes to his deathbed, and David finds himself agreeing to take on a private mission in London. Murdo is at his side in the journey, but a shocking revelation by Murdo’s ruthless father leaves David questioning everything they’ve shared.
As tensions mount and the stakes grow higher, David and Murdo are forced to ask themselves how far they’re prepared to go—and how much they’re prepared to give up— to stay together. And whether there’s any chance of lasting happiness for men like them.
This is such a superb historic romance series, featuring two rewardingly strong main characters in David and Murdo. I absolutely ate this latest installment up. As I mentioned in a review of Beguiled, I love the depiction of the interpersonal dynamic between the aristocratic Murdo, and David, who while a solicitor, is still viewed by society as being dirt on Murdo’s boot. Murdo never allows the class disparity to be an issue between them. Unfortunately, this proves more difficult for David to cast aside…
The sheer believability of the actions of David and Murdo, and their romance, is largely what sets this book, this series, apart. Well, that and amazing dialogue, stunning settings, and some great “I’m hold my breath over what’s going to happen next” moments. The author’s writing is breathtakingly sublime. I think I may have highlighted half the book!
Enlightened begins 6 months after the distressing and daring events at the end of Beguiled. David has been residing at Laverock House, Murdo’s country estate while recuperating from a severely broken leg. It’s fairly evident by his caring behavior that Murdo desires for, and believes David will decide to stay on indefinitely. David, while not invulnerable to the growing closeness between himself and Murdo, still cannot see that as a viable option. Partly due to their different stations in life, and partly due to deep personal hurt from his past.
“The protective barriers he’d spent a lifetime building up felt like they were crumbling away in the face of emotions he was helpless to deny. There would be no protection left to him when this ended. And the end was coming.”
I kept saying to aloud, Oh David, don’t give up please! Murdo adores you, he’d do anything for you. Trust that the two of you can find a way! The conflict of what David felt, what Murdo felt, and whether or not they could give voice to their true feelings, was realistically dealt with and did not come across as contrived at all. It took them a while to find their way, considering the time in which they lived, their pride, and their stubbornness. All this, combined with complicated extenuating circumstances, and the fact that they were both, well, not men given to spouting hearts and flowers! One of the sparkling aspects of this book is while conflicted and even angry with each other, David and Murdo were still able to communicate, to talk and not flail around or storm off over cross words or failure to be completely truthful. They stuck it out, they worked it through. All brought forth in glorious, on page dialogue.
Time and again, David would hear the echo of his dear friend and mentor’s words :
“Be happy. Don’t let love go. Don’t deny it.”
Elizabeth’s situation puts a strong and sobering light on women’s complete lack of rights and equality in 19th century England and Scotland, dovetailing with the scandalous and criminal issue of homosexuality. Her story continued to be closely interwoven with David and Murdo’s, and indeed is key in the brilliant resolution to the men finding lasting happiness together. Being such a huge fan of historical fiction, I always look forward to how authors will resolve issues satisfactorily, leaving the main characters free to pursue a life together.
With Enlightened, Joanna Chambers deftly delivers stunningly clever plotting into a very satisfying resolution of all major issues including: Murdo finally detaching himself from his cruel and overbearing father, Murdo’s future as a political player vs. a recluse bachelor, Elizabeth’s fate as a battered wife on the run, and David’s courage in the face of decisions regarding his personal and professional future. It was such a rise to witness the very social mores and customs of Murdo’s social circle become the key to unlocking freedom for David and himself. Brilliant.
Murdo to David: “I thought you were naïve, till you made me see that the life I’d always wanted – the two lives I’d wanted – didn’t amount to anything at all. I wasn’t going to have it all. I was going to have nothing.”
The Enlightenment Series as a whole depicts David’s process of maturing, his coming to realize what he truly desires, and indeed can actually achieve in his life. His enlightenment. Murdo in turn grows to realize what is of utmost importance in his life. He realizes his true enlightenment as well. Enlightened together ♥ I’m not certain this is how the author intended the title, but it is my heartfelt take!
I can’t recommend this book, this series, highly enough.
Rated 5 stars by Dianne