Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Book Review: The Illicit Love of a Courtesan

By Sara Steven

Trapped under the reign of a cruel keeper, Ellen Harding longs to be free. Under his oppression, her soul and conscience have died while her body lives on, fulfilling his dissolute desires. She is empty—a vessel—deaf to the voice of morality and blind to shame.

When her eyes are drawn to a beautiful man for no other reason than his looks, she imagines what it would be like to escape her chains for a night by giving her body to him.

But Edward Marlow is kind and gentle when he touches her, and her subconscious whispers, this man could be her salvation. Yet how can he help her when she has secrets which prevent her freedom?

Edward is restless, lonely, and a little angry with his lot in life—it is his only excuse for being drawn to another man’s mistress. The woman’s dark hair and pale eyes are striking, and he cannot take his gaze off her while she watches him over the top of a fan with an illicit intent in her eyes.

Once he’s known her, he cannot forget her, and once he’s seen the evidence of her supposed benefactor’s brutality, he wants to help her. But how can he when she will not run any more than she will speak of her past?

When a desperate Ellen finally relents and shocks Edward from his sleep, he doesn’t hesitate, he helps her flee. He just doesn’t know he’s running headlong into the secrets of her past. (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads)

In my preteens, I loved romantic period pieces. I used to go to the local used bookstore after school and check out as many historical romance novels as I could possibly get my hands on. The Illicit Love of a Courtesan brought me back to those youthful years of mine, along with the experiences I’ve had in recent years as an adult. It was reminiscent of Bridgerton and Hulu’s Harlots, the perfect blend of refined sensibilities and unbridled desires, the kind you can only get from a period piece.

Ellen has had a very rough life. While she may come from a more distinguished background that is not easily shared with others, nor is she encouraged to share it, she has been punished for making her own choices in life, setting her on a path that involves becoming property of a cruel man. She stays because she has to. There is a sordid past that involves those she loves and would do anything for, and there are too many people in her life that use that to their advantage. 

Edward has had the ability to make his own choices, but he puts his own wants and needs last. When it comes to family, he’ll do whatever he has to do to put things right, even at his own detriment. It seemed no coincidence that he finds himself in the same room as Ellen–two strangers who are seeking salvation, possibly within and from one another, no matter the odds or what obstacles they have to face.

Edward is continually Ellen’s savior, even when Ellen doesn’t feel she’s worth saving. But one of the greatest experiences is witnessing Ellen come into her own and believe in who she is, regardless of what others think of her or her past. There are societal pressures, particularly when it comes to the placement of a woman and the differences between being treated as a human being and living as someone’s property, and I felt the author showed a great amount of distinctions between the two, especially for the time this takes place in. Mixed in within it all are those moments between our main characters, the ones that ordinarily would take place behind closed doors but the reader gets to read it, and it did not disappoint. The Illicit Love of a Courtesan was an enjoyable experience; a worthy five-star read!

Thanks to Rachel's Random Resources for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK (available on KU) * Amazon US 
The Marlow Family Secret Full Series: 
Amazon UK * Amazon US

Jane Lark has been shortlisted for several industry awards. She is a Kindle bestselling author and a writer of compelling, passionate, and emotionally charged fiction. She loves writing intense relationships and is thrilled to hear readers say they have loved a book so much they have read it more than once

Visit Jane online:
Website * Blog * Facebook 

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1 comment:

Jane Lark said...

Thank you for taking the time to read and review The Illicit Love of a Courtesan, I'm thrilled you enjoyed it,


Best wishes,