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Tuesday, May 15, 2018

'Third Son's a Charm' The Survivors, #1 by Shana Galen

From the BLURB:

Ewan Mostyn thinks a job as a duke's daughter's bodyguard will be easy—but Lady Lorraine has a few tricks up her sleeve that spark an undeniable passion.

Fiercely loyal to his friends and comrades, Ewan Mostyn is the toughest in a group of younger sons of nobility who met as soldiers and are now trying desperately to settle back into peaceful Society. Ewan trusts his brawn more than his brains, but when he's offered a job watching the Duke of Ridlington's stubbornly independent daughter, he finds both are challenged.

Lady Lorraine wants none of her father's high-handed ways, and she'll do everything in her power to avoid her distressingly attractive bodyguard—until she lands herself in real trouble. Lorraine begins to see Ewan's protectiveness in a new light, and she can only hope that her stoic guardian will do for her what he's always done—fight for what he wants.

‘Third Son's a Charm’ is the first book in a new historical romance series called ‘The Survivors’ by Shana Galen.

So I heard about this book because Kirkus gave it, and the second book a star-review. Admittedly, Kirkus is not exactly a leader in the romance book review stakes, but I really responded to their positivity for the series and when my local independent bookshop had BOTH copies in-stock, I saw it as a sign.

It took me about 24-hours to read the first book, and I absolutely LOVED it.

In short, the entire series is about this band of soldiers who fought together in an elite and unique military unit during the Napoleonic wars – unique, because they were all seen as “expendable” men of nobility (third sons, illegitimate heirs etc.). Originally there were some 30 odd soldiers in the unit, but only 12 survived – and are now notorious for their heroics and epic feats of survival. But now the men are living in ‘peace time’ and each in their own ways, are struggling to adjust to the real world.

Ewan Mostyn was nicknamed ‘the protector’ of the group – for his tough warrior-like focus and bullishness when it came to protecting his friends and comrades. Now that Ewan is out of the army though, he’s back to feeling like a failure. The rejected third son of his father, the Earl of Pembroke, because of Ewan’s various academic and life failures. You see, Ewan has a learning disability – he presents as dyslexic, but in 1816 is just labelled a ‘lackwit’ and an ‘idiot’. A brute who’s only good for knocking heads together.

That is until the Duke of Ridlington makes Ewan a proposal he can’t refuse. To guard the Duke’s wayward daughter, Lady Lorraine, who has her heart set on eloping with a young noble who’s merely after her dowry. A young noble who happens to also be Ewan’s conniving cousin – and childhood tormentor, who first made Ewan feel insecure and unwanted for his learning disabilities. So Ewan readily accepts the job of bodyguard … but he didn’t expect Lady Lorraine to be so spirited, curious and loving. Or that he’d find himself feeling safe and wanted for the first time in his life when he comes into her orbit.

I cannot recommend this book – and the entire series concept – enough! I love, love, loved it. Not least because it’s an example of progressive historical romance in so may ways. It’s very much indicative of the conversations that the romance genre has been having for a while now – around ‘hot consent’ and simply acknowledging that it’s a genre that has to appeal to modern women. As such – Lady Lorraine is a sex-positive and curious heroine, who challenges the double-standard between men and women in society when it comes to sex and experimentation outside of marriage. Ewan’s learning disability is handled with tenderness and understanding. And the overall series concept of military men trying to assimilate to peace-time is a complex and thoughtful one that I very much look forward to seeing play out over the course of the series.

Also – it’s hot! Ewan and Lorraine’s journey from mutual respect to friendship and then attraction is a beautifully paced build-up, and Lorraine’s vocal curiosity about her carnal desires means it’s a very equal coupling and coming together.

I would say Shana Galen’s ‘The Survivors’ is essential reading for anyone who is curious about, or considers themselves to be an aficionado of the historical romance genre. It’s bloody marvellous!


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