Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin, St. Martin’s Press
Date of publication: June 12th, 2018
Genre: Romance, Historical romance
Book synopsis (from Goodreads):
A sensuous, delightful romantic women’s fiction novel from New York Times bestselling authors Celeste Bradley and Susan Donovan!
She was “the Swan.” London’s premiere courtesan. Men want to be with her. Women loathe her success and yet admire her beauty, her riches, her independence. But when the jealous wife of her lover moves to have the Swan banished from her home on the high seas, she winds up crashed against Spain’s rocky coast with no shoes, no clothes-and no name. Taken in by a tortured, sensuous man known as The Artist, the Swan comes to know the woman she wants to be—her artist’s siren.
When Art Professor Brenna Anderson is in danger of losing her post at Harvard, the rule-following, prim professor is at a loss of how to salvage the shreds of her life. But when a new painting in the mysterious Siren collection is discovered in a dusty old house in France, Brenna does the unthinkable—hops on a plane to uncover the identity of the beautiful, enigmatic woman who is the subject of the paintings.
There’s just one hitch—the frustrating, irritating, bold and beautiful art hunter, Fitch Wilder, is also looking for the Siren. He’s been a thorn in Brenna’s professional side for years, but when their individual quests lead them to team up despite being enemies, a whole new sumptuous world of art and culture opens up for the two of them. And with it, they enter a realm of passion and love…
I have a love/hate relationship with books that have dual storylines. If they are written correctly, they are fantastic to read. If written incorrectly, the book becomes confusing and hard to read. Thankfully, for Breathless, it falls into the first category. Breathless truly kept me breathless as I read both The Swan and Brenna’s stories.
As I mentioned above, the authors did a great job of keeping the storylines separate from each other. There was a clear ending to each storyline before flipping to the other one. I loved it because I could tell when The Swan’s storyline began/ended and when Brenna’s storylines began/ended. There was no confusion at all. And believe me, that is a good thing!!
The two storylines of Breathless were well written. I loved The Swan’s storyline. If you have followed my blog, then you know my thirst and passion for Regency-Era England. So when I realized that The Swan’s storyline took place during that era, I was immediately taken in by the book. The more of The Swan’s storyline I read, the more intrigued by her I became. I was saddened by her stay, via her mother, in Newgate. Her introduction to the courtesan lifestyle was one of necessity. It was her romance with The Artist that swept me away. I couldn’t get enough of it.
Brenna’s storyline reminded me a little of Dan Brown’s books but with a dash of romance thrown in. Brenna did come across as embattled at the beginning of the book. Her tenure as an Associate Professor of Sociology was being threatened by parents who didn’t approve of what she taught. She has become obsessed with the paintings of an unknown woman called The Siren. When Brenna takes a leave of absence and travels to London, then the storyline took off. Saddled with her archenemy, Fitch Wilder, she goes on a quest to discover the identity of The Siren.
The romance aspect of Breathless was that, breathless. The Siren doesn’t fall in love with The Artist overnight. There was no Instalove. Instead, she recovers from her injuries. Then she gets to know The Artist. Then she falls in love. In Brenna’s storyline, it was the same storyline. The only difference was that Brenna knew Fitch and she couldn’t stand him. So, it was interesting to see her opinion of him change over the course of her storyline. It was refreshing to read a book where Instalove wasn’t involved!!
What was also refreshing was that the sex wasn’t made a big deal of. The sex scenes were very tastefully written and you had to use your imagination. Loved it!! While I like graphic sex scenes, sometimes having to use my imagination is refreshing.
I was not ready for the end of The Siren’s story. The twist that was thrown in there took me by surprise. I wondered, like Brenna and Fitch, if she had her revenge on Mrs. H. The end of Brenna’s storyline was typical but interesting. The authors did a great job of ending the storylines in a way that pleased me as a reader.
What I Liked about Breathless:
A) Complex but interesting storylines.
B) 3D characters
C) No confusion when one storyline ended and the other began
What I disliked about Breathless:
A) The Siren’s courtesan lifestyle.
B) Brenna’s dislike for Fitch. Way over the top
C) What happened to The Artist.
I would give Breathless an Adult rating. There is sex but it isn’t graphic. There is language. There is mild violence. I would recommend no one under the age of 21 read this book.
There are no triggers in Breathless.
I would recommend Breathless to family and friends. This is a book that I would most definitely reread.
CELESTE BRADLEY is the New York Times bestselling author of the Runaway Brides, Heiress Brides, Liar’s Club, and Royal Four series. Her novel Fallen was nominated for a RITA in 2002. “When you are overendowed with imagination and underendowed with punctuality, become a writer.” Years of dreaming on the job paid off when Celeste Bradley quit the mainstream in 1999 and started writing historical romance. “Handsome heroes beat out cranky customers every time!” Bradley lives in New Mexico with her family, her desert garden and so many pets the house sometimes feels like an ark.
SUSAN DONOVAN’s novels have won accolades for being witty, sexy, and entertaining. A former newspaper reporter with journalism degrees from Northwestern University, Susan is a New York Times and USA Today bestseller whose novels have been translated into dozens of languages. Susan is a two-time RITA Award finalist, and her novel Take a Chance on Me was named Best Contemporary Romance of 2003 by RT Book Reviews Magazine. She lives in New Mexico with her family and assorted dogs.
I would like to thank St. Martin’s Griffin, St. Martin’s Press, and NetGalley for allowing me to read and review Breathless.
All opinions stated in this review of Breathless are mine.
**I chose to leave this review after reading an advance reader copy**