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HE WOULD MARRY HER AND POSSESS HER IN EVERY WAY POSSIBLE The Duke of Kylemore knows her as Soraya, London's most celebrated courtesan. Men fight duels to spend an hour in her company. And only he comes close to taming her. Flying in the face of society, he decides to make her his bride; then, she vanishes, seemingly into thin air. Dire circumstances have forced Verity Ashton HE WOULD MARRY HER AND POSSESS HER IN EVERY WAY POSSIBLE The Duke of Kylemore knows her as Soraya, London's most celebrated courtesan. Men fight duels to spend an hour in her company. And only he comes close to taming her. Flying in the face of society, he decides to make her his bride; then, she vanishes, seemingly into thin air. Dire circumstances have forced Verity Ashton to barter her innocence and change her name for the sake of her family. But Kylemore destroys her plans for a respectable life when he discovers her safe haven. He kidnaps her, sweeping her away to his hunting lodge in Scotland, where he vows to bend her to his will. There he seduces her anew. Verity spends night after night with him in his bed ... and though she still dreams of escape and independence, she knows she can never flee the unexpected, unwelcome love for the proud, powerful lover who claims her both body and soul.


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HE WOULD MARRY HER AND POSSESS HER IN EVERY WAY POSSIBLE The Duke of Kylemore knows her as Soraya, London's most celebrated courtesan. Men fight duels to spend an hour in her company. And only he comes close to taming her. Flying in the face of society, he decides to make her his bride; then, she vanishes, seemingly into thin air. Dire circumstances have forced Verity Ashton HE WOULD MARRY HER AND POSSESS HER IN EVERY WAY POSSIBLE The Duke of Kylemore knows her as Soraya, London's most celebrated courtesan. Men fight duels to spend an hour in her company. And only he comes close to taming her. Flying in the face of society, he decides to make her his bride; then, she vanishes, seemingly into thin air. Dire circumstances have forced Verity Ashton to barter her innocence and change her name for the sake of her family. But Kylemore destroys her plans for a respectable life when he discovers her safe haven. He kidnaps her, sweeping her away to his hunting lodge in Scotland, where he vows to bend her to his will. There he seduces her anew. Verity spends night after night with him in his bed ... and though she still dreams of escape and independence, she knows she can never flee the unexpected, unwelcome love for the proud, powerful lover who claims her both body and soul.

30 review for Claiming the Courtesan

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Mac

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Let me preface this review by saying I appreciate what the author was trying to do. She took a risk with content & subject matter -- an eye-catching novelty in the overcrowded Regency shelves. The writing was ok & the sex language didn't make my eyes bleed. The foggy Scottish mansion was a great setting for a romance, & there was no cheesy-arse secondary love story to make me retch in a conveniently placed bucket. But for all these positives, CLAIMING THE COURTESAN is a Fail. It's not that I'm af Let me preface this review by saying I appreciate what the author was trying to do. She took a risk with content & subject matter -- an eye-catching novelty in the overcrowded Regency shelves. The writing was ok & the sex language didn't make my eyes bleed. The foggy Scottish mansion was a great setting for a romance, & there was no cheesy-arse secondary love story to make me retch in a conveniently placed bucket. But for all these positives, CLAIMING THE COURTESAN is a Fail. It's not that I'm afraid of unapproachable, brooding, and/or malfunctioning heroes, as anyone familiar with my taste will confirm. But this Justin, aka Duke of Kylemore...yikes. Putting aside the fact that he does nothing with his life besides screw women & argue with his mother, he's an absolute nutcase. But wait, you say -- he only needs lurve to become a better man! Um, not really. There's sexy determined obsession...and then there's creepy psycho obsession, the sort of behavior that inspires the writers of Criminal Minds. Justin is one of those inspirational turds. Even worse, his distinctive breed of psycho obsession is curdled by an emotional development that stopped at age 10. His every thought & plan revolves around sex with his courtesan mistress. He's determined to awaken the courtesan inside her...and, shamefully, he succeeds. Congrats, psychos of the world! You too can breed Stockholm Syndrome in your victims! *eye roll* He starts the book by fixating on sex & getting his way; he ends the book by fixating on sex & getting his way. And for what? A shitty childhood? Grow up, dude. Lots of people have shitty childhoods. Yet even after his many so-called breakthroughs, he's an emotional child. He doesn't actually grow into adulthood -- in fact, the entire novel seems to confirm that his childish assumptions are correct. Apparently the heroine's magical sex drive really does cure his figurative nightmares. What I really want to say is this: He's not miguided & brooding -- he's a f'ing fruitloop. As for Verity, our heroine...well, I'm not in the mood to rant. I have, however, taken the liberty of crafting a one-act play to better demonstrate my opinion of this book -- Verity included. Enjoy. :) (But first, be warned of bad language; I do enjoy cussing in my snark.) And now, on with the show. KYLEMORE: Boy, that sex was great. VERITY: Indeed it was. Meow, purr, kissy-kiss. KYLE: Let's get married to spite my evul mother of doom. VERITY: ...No thanks. KYLE: It wasn't a request, you know. VERITY: I noticed. And I still refuse. KYLE: I'll come back tomorrow to hear your affirmative response. And to have more sex. VERITY: Until next time, Captain Constant Boner. BEN: Wow, wtf is that guy's problem? VERITY: He's a rakish, brooding duke in Regency London. He has no life but to visit his club, sex me up, & argue with his mum. BEN: He strikes me as emotionally underdeveloped. VERITY: You're right. Let's go hide somewhere he can't possibly find us. ....the next day.... KYLE: My mistress courtesan has fled! MOM: You'd better not disgrace our family & marry a whore. KYLE: Shut up, you old bag. MOM: Pfft. That was mature. KYLE: Don't insult Captain Constant Boner! I hate my stupid life & I hate my stupid dead father & I reserve extra-special hatred for you, my stupid mother. MOM: ...Did I mention you suck donkey balls? KYLE: As god is my witness, I will be avenged! ....and so, three months later.... VERITY: Fiddle-dee-dee! I am so very happy in my new chaste life. KYLE: Ah, but I found you. VERITY: How could you possibly track us down? KYLE: I exerted my meager amount of non-sexual brainz to the task, & presto. Here you are. VERITY: ...Shit. BEN: What's this guy doing here?! KYLE: You must be her lover! For all my non-sexual brainz, I failed to account for the idea that a male can know my mistress & not plow her senseless. VERITY: Captain Constant Boner, please listen to reason. KYLE: I kill your lover now! VERITY: He's my brother, you oaf. KYLE: Oh. Whatever. I'm kidnapping you, ok? VERITY: I'd rather not, actually. KYLE: Shut up. I've not had sex for three entire months, so you deserve the vilest treatment I can imagine. VERITY: Please don't do this. KYLE: That's woman-speak for I want you in my pants even though I say I'm retired from the courtesan business. VERITY: Boo-hoo, sniffle, sniff. *gets inside* BEN: Wtf is going on here?! ....several pages later.... KYLE: I will prove that you still want to be a courtesan. Or my mistress. Or my wife. VERITY: Go away. KYLE: That's woman-speak for I will force you to make out & prove you feel desire. VERITY: Curse my traitorous body! ....several pages later.... KYLE: How do you like my castle? VERITY: It sucks. KYLE: That's woman-speak for I totally want you to rape me, Captain Constant Boner. VERITY: Curse my traitorous body! ....many, many pages later.... KYLE: Wait, what's this? What's this...weird feeling...trying to sprout in the back of my brain? It's almost like I feel bad about Verity climaxing when I rape her. Weird. VERITY: Can I go now? KYLE: That's woman-speak for Continue abusing me until I do something to reveal my torturous past & make you feel sorry for me, because that will make me attractive to your mothering instinct. VERITY: Curse my traitorous body! ....the next chapter.... KYLE: Oh help, oh help! I r having bad dreams! VERITY: Och, look! He's having bad dreams. That makes him attractive to my mothering instinct. KYLE: So you don't hate me anymore? VERITY: Not really. You've successfully poisoned my sense of self-respect to the point that I find you lovable in your tortured, broken, abusive ways. KYLE: Awesome. That's woman-speak for let's cuddle chastely. VERITY: ...Um, ok. KYLE: While we're cuddling, you can fill in the gaps of your life's history. I've only stalked you for the past six years, remember. VERITY: Well... KYLE: Pleeeease? VERITY: Ok, then. I shall now reveal my sordid downfall from chaste maid-of-all-work to highly-paid courtesan. KYLE: Wait, wait. Hold that thought while I make popcorn. ....a few pages later.... VERITY: I'm going to seduce you, Captain Constant Boner. Sex with my magical hooha will chase away your nightmares. KYLE: Woohoo! VERITY: But let's be gentle & loving this time, ok? You're a grownup now. KYLE: Why...why...why, you're right. I am an adult! I'd almost forgotten that in the five collective minutes I'm not thinking about boobies. ....several sex scenes later.... VERITY: I must go now, Captain Constant Boner. I love you but we can't marry. KYLE: Why not? VERITY: I want you to want to let me go. I want you to want me to be happy & independent & utterly free from the shackles of my courtesan past. Oh, & Ben doesn't know if I'm dead -- so I should go say hi. KYLE: I sulk now. VERITY: Ah, remember what we talked about? KYLE: ...Dammit. Adulthood sucks. VERITY: But we're both healed from our past woes, so it's all good. KYLE: I want to bone you more. VERITY: Well... BEN: *leaps in from stage left* Ah-ha, I tracked you down myself! I curse you to the seventh level of hell, Captain Constant Boner! KYLE: I am hiding behind your sister's skirts. BEN: ....Huh? VERITY: We're in love, so you can't beat him up. BEN: Wtf is going on here?! VERITY: Nevermind. We must go before I let myself fall back into your arms. Curse my traitorous body! KYLE: Boo-hoo, sniffle, sniff. ....the next chapter.... MOM: *leaps in from stage right* Muahahahaha! BEN: You sure know some psychopathic freakos, sister. And I got beat up. Again. VERITY: Shit. Well, I'm sure she'll be reasonable -- she's only got a knife & fifty armed henchmen. We'll just remind her that I've retired from my courtesan career & am leaving your son. MOM: Well, that's dashed inconvenient. I wanted to cut your face so you're scarred & hideous. VERITY: My aura of beauty will protect me. See, I have a noble self-righteous suffering kink. MOM: ...You're not even making sense now. VERITY: I'm in love with Captain Constant Boner & I want him to live a life free of the social scandals that are inherent with marrying a courtesan. MOM: I still hate you with the unreasonable passion of a thousand fiery suns, & I'll explain in exacting detail why your eyes should be cut out! VERITY: O.M.G., why?! MOM: To give my son time to find us on these long, lonely stretches of rainy Scottish scenery. Duh. KYLE: Ah-ha! Foiled again, mommy-dearest! MOM: ...Dammit. VERITY: Boo-hoo, sniffle, sniff. My brother has been injured. KYLE: Again? ....the final scene.... KYLE: I mope now. VERITY: You still haven't asked me to marry you. KYLE: Wtf? I asked you, like, three times already. VERITY: Oh, that's right. Well... KYLE: I'll bat my eyelashes. VERITY: I dunno... KYLE: And you can touch my constant boner. VERITY: I'm your new duchess, sir. BEN: *from stage left* I'm still in need of a doctor, please? Anyone? - THE END -

  2. 4 out of 5

    UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish

    Updated to add that this review is chock full of spoilers - proceed at your own risk My review: Claiming The Courtesan is one of those novels that is subjective… open to interpretation. Each reader will react differently to certain events, perhaps drawing on their own life’s experiences and emotions. I am no different and this review will be a collection of my own thoughts. I will start by saying that Anna Campbell did a brilliant job of allowing us a glimpse into Kylemore’s mind, not only as an ad Updated to add that this review is chock full of spoilers - proceed at your own risk My review: Claiming The Courtesan is one of those novels that is subjective… open to interpretation. Each reader will react differently to certain events, perhaps drawing on their own life’s experiences and emotions. I am no different and this review will be a collection of my own thoughts. I will start by saying that Anna Campbell did a brilliant job of allowing us a glimpse into Kylemore’s mind, not only as an adult but as a child, and it couldn’t have been an easy task. It’s impossible to talk about the man without also talking about the boy. My first thoughts of Justin Kinmurrie, Duke of Kylemore were that he was protecting himself. I couldn’t help but feel that he held back, and when you’re a child raised in fear, not knowing what love feels like, in many ways you become a solitary being, closing yourself off from everyone around you. If we don’t allow people in, they can’t hurt us. If we don’t express our emotions, they can’t be mocked. If we don’t tell people what we are afraid of or what causes us grief, they can’t use that information to hurt us. I see The Duke of Kylemore as two separate people; Justin, the innocent, frightened child and Kylemore, the bitter and still frightened man. As a child, Justin had built a wall around himself, a fortress that protected not only his heart, but his very soul. I don’t think he was aware he had done it; it was just a vulnerable child’s way of surviving. It was instinctual and I don’t believe he could have his sanity any other way. As children, we know fear and disappointment, sadness and longing and if we are fortunate enough, we have parents, family, friends or guardians who help us learn to deal with those emotions. Justin had no one, really. While some of the servants who lived with the family cared for him, there was only so much influence they could have on the lad. When the time came, Justin was sent away to school where he was even more alone and had to endure the taunting from the other children when he would cry out in the night because of his horrible dreams. As a grown man, a wealthy nobleman of title, The Duke of Kylemore no longer had to deal with people’s mocking, scorn or ridicule. Did that mean his peers cared for him? No, of course not and he never deluded himself into thinking that they did. They merely respected him and dared not do anything that would put them on his bad side. The romantic in me can’t help but imagine that the first time he saw the courtesan Soraya from across Sir Eldrith Moore’s drawing room, he recognized her as his ‘other half.’ The missing part which would make him whole and his soul needed her to be complete. It wasn’t about self gratification or merely lust. No, I believe he was drawn to her in a way he couldn’t explain nor could he have stopped had he wanted to. Soraya also had quite a reaction to seeing Kylemore across that room and again, it’s the hopeless romantic in me that believes her soul knew his and that frightened her. She had her life all planned out; she would work as a well paid whore until she had enough money to care for her brother and sister and when she could finally leave her shameful past behind her, she had resigned herself to living alone, never loving or being loved. I think this is why she did what she could to discourage Kylemore’s request to be her protector. The feelings he stirred within her would surely make a mess of the nice, tidy little package of the future she envisioned for herself, and no doubt she saw him as another pompous, wealthy nobleman who thought he was entitled to anything he wanted, including her. As events unfolded leading up to Soraya’s departure, I could feel a tightening in my chest and found myself thinking, “No, don’t do this… not this way.” Kylemore was stunned by her refusal to his marriage proposal. I thought it interesting that he didn’t actually ask her, he told her: “You will make a most spectacular duchess.” And, “I want you to be my wife.” At this point, Verity (Soroya's real name) noticed how the muscle in his cheek and he was gripped by strong emotions. I believe she took this to mean that he was angry and determined to have his way, which of course he was… but I also believe there was more. I sensed a degree of panic in Kylemore when she refused his proposal. No one ever told him ‘no’, and wasn’t he offering her the world? Their relationship had been purely physical, as far has he had been able to tell, but in truth, he needed her on a level and with a desperation he didn’t understand. He felt it, but didn’t recognize it for what it was. He thought she was merely an obsession of his lust, something to possess, and to admit he needed someone would be like lowering the drawbridge to the fortress that was his safe haven. I also felt in Verity – not Soraya – the same panic at his proposal. He was the only man who could undermine everything she had built, everything she had worked for…and again, she didn’t recognize it for what it was, an emotion that went deeper than the sexual attraction she held for him. I think this scared her because as Verity, she needed to be needed. She is a healer, and fixer and a caregiver. There was nothing about the Kylemore the world was allowed to see that she could fit into any of those categories. I wasn’t surprised by Kylemore’s anger in response to Soraya’s leaving without saying goodbye or giving him her reasons. I understood completely why he assumed she left him – she was a thief, a whore, and all other manner of gutter names he could think of. Because he always assumed the worse in everyone, (and why wouldn’t he with the way he had been raised?) he never considered that she might have had good reasons to leave. Now, I’m going to get straight to the rape scenes which I thought, if it’s possible given the subject matter, were handled and written well. Now, I’ll make this disclaimer right up front… “No” means “no.” As soon as Verity indicated she was not giving herself willingly, he should have stopped. I don’t think any one of us feels differently about that. However, I don’t think he, at that moment, could even fathom the idea that she didn’t really want him because as we are told, her body betrayed her and she was ‘prepared’ to receive him. Again, he should have stopped and had he been in his right mind, in control of his emotions, I believe that Justin would have but Kylemore was still feeling betrayed, angry and bitter himself. I think that, especially in historical romance novels, the sex act is a form of ownership, which also lends credence to the idea that Kylemore was desperate to own her, to make her his and since he was emotionally detached, the only way he knew was sexually. And hadn’t he literally owned her that way already? As I stated earlier, it is in Verity’s nature to fix things. She is a comforter and a protector and even though she was held against her will and yes, raped, when she finally understood what was happening to Kylemore, that caregiver part of her was summoned and she responded to his need. The same thing happened to Kylemore when he finally understood why Verity had conjured Soraya. All I can say is thank God Verity had presence of mind enough to keep her true self sheltered while she lived as Soraya. I remember the part where she had awakened him from a nightmare and then held him and I recalled a puppy we had gotten from the shelter when I was a kid. The poor little thing would sit in our lap and tremble. Wouldn’t look at us, wouldn’t move away but still trembled. I was reminded of this when I read that part. That’s the way Kylemore acted and as Verity began telling her own tale, he wouldn’t interrupt her, wouldn’t look at her… he just let her hold him and comfort him afraid that she might stop talking or worse, let go of him. While I’m not suggesting Justin/Kylemore had split personalities, it was at this point that I believe Justin began to emerge more fully. I loved watching their relationship become not one of Courtesan and Protector, but one of lovers, true lovers in every sense of the word. And while there were still obstacles to overcome, I was thrilled with the ending of the story. I’ve come to adore Kylemore as much as I do Justin, and Soraya every bit as much as Verity. The most frustrating part of the story for me was the whole “I’m not worthy” theme. That bothers me and I think it’s overwritten in many stories and I felt like it was laid on a little heavily in this one, especially since Justin still wanted to marry her. It wasn’t until he called her a coward for not even trying that she considered that perhaps she was worthy after all. Both characters had much to overcome and their strengths and weaknesses complimented each other beautifully The Bottom Line:If I had to sum up this story in four lines it would be done with a poem by Edwin Markham and in my heart, mind and soul it defines Kylemore, the man as he was, and the woman who was Verity. He drew a circle that shut me out-- Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout. But love and I had the wit to win; We drew a circle that took him in.

  3. 5 out of 5

    new_user

    I could definitely see why some people find this book controversial. In fact, there is more than one rape scene in Courtesan, perpetrated by the hero upon the heroine-- and yes, she does fall in love with the hero. That goes without saying; the whole book hinges on this. However, that is only the basic plot. The real bulk of the story deals with the characters' histories and emotional struggles. The hero, especially, suffers a lot of anguish, past and present, that motivates his actions. He is b I could definitely see why some people find this book controversial. In fact, there is more than one rape scene in Courtesan, perpetrated by the hero upon the heroine-- and yes, she does fall in love with the hero. That goes without saying; the whole book hinges on this. However, that is only the basic plot. The real bulk of the story deals with the characters' histories and emotional struggles. The hero, especially, suffers a lot of anguish, past and present, that motivates his actions. He is by no means a perfect Prince Charming. His flaws are certainly present and fit the kind of troubled man who would seize an object that obsessed him--and his behavior, particularly in the beginning of the book, definitely corresponds with all the textbook symptoms of a man obsessed. Whatever one thinks of the man, that's surprisingly brave for a romance writer (for whom the hero is supposed to be charming and dreamy, certainly never disturbing or troubled). Kylemore is particularly imperfect. This exploration of the thoughts of a kidnapper speaks to some research on her part, although Campbell does develop his character far beyond this aspect of his character; he is not simply the archetype of a kidnapper from Profiling 101. He is a person who makes mistakes and the author addresses them with some gravity, rather than have the heroine mooning over her abductor in an otherwise terrifying kidnapping; he has every power over her and he has made no secret that he will use it against her and against her will. Campbell doesn't romanticize the ordeal. In fact, while I was reading I really questioned the "romance" label. It certainly doesn't fit the bill of a traditional romance novel. It is bleak and rending and at times unbearable (defines angst), as close to Heathcliff re-imagined as I could picture. He could be a villain, but because we know him so well and, at least in Campbell's story, often see the events through his perspective, we have some sympathy for the hero. Courtesan's no bit of fluff, that's sure. The only "cheerful" (sort of) portions are near the end and no end of high emotion there. It's not light. I'll say this, it's leaps and bounds above a Johanna Lindsey novel. It's nothing like those bodice rippers where the heroine grumbles about a rape as she would about burnt toast and may I have some more, Sir Rapist? In Courtesan, both characters recognize the horror of the situation (the heroine arguably more so than the hero), and that's the crux of matter. What kind of relationship can they possibly have? Can they have a relationship after Kylemore's treatment of her? The author tries to address this question. Of course, the writer does place characters and events to help this along. The fact that the heroine has feelings for her kidnapper before the madness certainly plays a part in subsequent events, but readers can find this out for themselves. As to the courtesan, Verity maintains an inner core of dignity despite her career, and the lengths to which she goes to preserve this admirable dignity are at once weakness and her strength and a major struggle in the book. There are bedroom scenes. As another reviewer mentioned, a good portion of the book takes place there, but they are certainly not 1001 Nights. Far from it. They are as much a battle, filled with tension and angst, as the couple's verbal clashes, and each scene marks a different point in their relationship. Read this book if you want to read complex, heartrending, sometimes harsh emotion. Courtesan wouldn't be out of place on Brontë's bleak moors or in the middle of a gray storm. This is the kind of book that Catherine Coulter might write, except the writing is not mechanical or mediocre and the characters are actually fleshed out. This hero is no stupid brute. He is intelligent and tormented and knows the depravity of his actions, if you can imagine that. If all of the above sounds entirely too nerve wracking and you want something less so (I don't blame you), try her second book, Untouched. It's the man who's untouched *gasp*! It's lighter and more traditional romance. However, if you did enjoy this book, you may also like Brenda Joyce's The Game, which shares some themes with Courtesan (e.g. a strong hero who is also fixated on the heroine, though Joyce's hero is far less damaged). I hope that gives an adequate enough impression of this book to make a judgment. Enjoyment is not applicable here, but I can appreciate the skill of a writer who can conjure so much emotion and depth, even if it is sometimes uncomfortable or disturbing. So is life. Better this pseudo-realistic depiction (the heroine's romantic feelings aside) than the cheerful rape stories of the 80s, in my opinion. At any rate, I didn't feel that "there's a rape scene" did the book justice. Let's be fair, the author attempted considerably more than that. But I will warn anyone considering the book that this book is not really an escape. I think I've already mentioned it's not traditionally romantic or cheerful, etc. Consider yourself warned, LOL.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Danielle The Book Huntress (Wants to Read More)

    I must admit I am not a fan of the courtesan/prostitute heroine because I dislike the idea of a woman having to sell her body for survival. For that reason, I did not read this book right away, although I was very intrigued by the storyline of a hero who would do just about anything to keep his heroine. I read some scenes from it at the bookstore, trying to decide if I was "ready" to read it, and I couldn't stop thinking about story and how good the writing was. Finally, I decided I had to read I must admit I am not a fan of the courtesan/prostitute heroine because I dislike the idea of a woman having to sell her body for survival. For that reason, I did not read this book right away, although I was very intrigued by the storyline of a hero who would do just about anything to keep his heroine. I read some scenes from it at the bookstore, trying to decide if I was "ready" to read it, and I couldn't stop thinking about story and how good the writing was. Finally, I decided I had to read it and I read it within a few days of buying it. This book is one of the best historicals I have ever read. It was intense, it was well-written, it had believable characters who made real choices, good or bad. And at the heart I think it did have a really good love story. Not the sweet and light kind, but a love story all the same. I have championed this book and I have tried to explain why Kylemore isn't a bad man. He's not an emotionally healthy man. And he does some things that are not right, namely forcing Soraya to have sex with him after he kidnaps her, not to mention kidnapping her in the first place. I would never defend or excuse that behavior. But reading the book, you can understand what his motivations are. He is completely desperate at the thought of losing her. Yes, he's like a child who has a toy taken away from him, on one level. But I believe that he is motivated by a deep, obsessive love for her. I find myself very intrigued by obsessive heroes. I don't know why because that would be really scary in real life, but I do like it in romance novels. I love when the hero truly cannot exist without the heroine. Kylemore somehow found his way into my heart. I did find him to be a sympathetic, albeit flawed hero. There were aspects about him that I did like, such as his devotion in his own way to Soraya. He waited for Soraya for years when she was with another protector. As far I as I recall, he didn't even take another lover in that time. When he had her as his mistress, he compartmentalized their time together, making it seem that it was not as important as it was. But deep down, I believe being with her was the highlight of his existence. Also, he was going to ask Soraya to marry him. Dukes did not marry their mistresses. It just wasn't done. They had their mistresses but married virgins or respectble widows, and the two aspects of their existences didn't meet. Yes he told himself it was to anger his mother, but I believe it was because he genuinely loved Soraya and wanted to make a life with her. So, viewing his actions in light of the facts given, I do believe that his behavior was not completely rational. His kidnapping and captivity of her was done from a knee-jerk, emotional level that wasn't ruled by logic and negated right and wrong. Not excusable, but definitely actions I could understand in light of what motivated Kylemore. There was also an aspect of knowing that as a powerful duke, he shouldn't have to be told no or be denied anything he wanted. That is the part I didn't like. The scenes where they struggle against each other physically, mentally, and emotionally were riveting, and I didn't even want to put the book down for a minute. I was drawn in and I knew I had rarely if ever read a romance novel with this degree of complexity of relationships. In some ways it was hard to watch how Kylemore scared Verity and wore her down. At some points I wondered if he would drive her to insanity. That was painful to read. She deserved better. I wanted to tell him, "If you're trying to get this woman to stay with you and love you, you're going about it the wrong way." But Kylemore was raised by a very evil woman, his mother. How would a man raised in that environment know how to give or receive love? You could not expect that of him, considering his background. Truly Verity was the more emotionally stable and well-adjusted of this pair. I really liked how Ms. Campbell really plays with society's concepts of morality in both this book and in Tempt the Devil, having the courtesan be the more virtous and more respectable and laudable of the pair. And truly in my mind they are (in most cases). Back in this time period, there was no such thing as equality between the sexes. Women were property and chattel. Women's choices were extremely limited. Men had the power and they had the choice to have sex with women according to their wishes and wants. Women had to submit in various ways, either as wife or mistress. I can see that this dynamic is played out in this novel. Verity had to become a courtesan out of survival, and she did it until she was financially secure. I found it repugnant that her first protector was an older man who made her an offer to become his mistress at the young age of fifteen, and he felt that that was the right way to save her from a harrowing situation. If he really wanted to help her, he could have placed her in a safe situation and helped her to get a living that wasn't prostitution, or at least waited until she was older. But he saw how incredibly beautiful she was and wanted her. Thus his motives were selfish and although Verity now had some protection, he sent her into the life of a demimondaine. Verity/Soraya accepted her position as a courtesan and made the best of it, but it wasn't the life she wanted. When Kylemore made her an offer, it was business, pure and simple. She could not make the mistake of getting her heart involved. She didn't expect Kylemore to be emotionally involved either. When their two year contract was up, she had achieved the means for financial security. There was no reason to continue in that life. By leaving Kylemore, she could close her life on one chapter and start another. I want to reread this book to study again how the wall broke down and Verity was able to love Kylemore. I think that this part is probably one of the most important elements, because knowing that she accepts and loves him doesn't make what he did okay, but at least you can hope that they will have a hopeful future together and that there can be some emotional healing for both of them. Words fail me to express why I loved this book so much.I just did. It's not for the faint of heart reader who wants a happy-go-lucky rakish hero who wouldn't ever consider harming a woman or doing anything she didn't consent to. But for a reader who is willing to put aside her list of what a hero does and doesn't do and read this book and evaluate Kylemore as an individual, I believe that this reader may find that there are untapped depths to this book that make it a fascinating and enjoyable read.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell

    Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest 09/23/17: Price drop to $2.99! If you're interested in this book, now is a great time to get it! I don't think I've ever seen it go this cheaply. I've been lusting after this book for years because it had so many positive reviews, and people were saying it was like a bodice ripper of olde - and you guys know how much I love bodice rippers. Throw in an obsessive hero and a revenge theme, and I. Am. So. There. When this book had a price dr Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest 09/23/17: Price drop to $2.99! If you're interested in this book, now is a great time to get it! I don't think I've ever seen it go this cheaply. I've been lusting after this book for years because it had so many positive reviews, and people were saying it was like a bodice ripper of olde - and you guys know how much I love bodice rippers. Throw in an obsessive hero and a revenge theme, and I. Am. So. There. When this book had a price drop down to $3.49, I pounced. "Finally!" I thought. "Precious is mine!" I thought. Post-reading, all I can say is feh. ***WARNING: SPOILERS*** CLAIMING THE COURTESAN is about Lord Kylemore (Crymore) and Verity (Very Dumb). Very Dumb is Crymore's mistress. They had a contract that stipulated that she could leave after a year, and all of his gifts would remain hers after their time was up. Crymore did not take the contract seriously and after a fight with his mom, he's like, "F U, Mom! You think you can boss me around? I'm going to marry my whore! That'll show you!" But Crymore's mistress is tired of the lifestyle of the "soiled dove" and absconds with her belongings, selling all of her expensive gifts to live a life of anonymity in the countryside. Well, Crymore can't have that, can he? He pursues her, kidnaps her in the middle of the street after attempting to kill her brother (who he thinks is her lover), and then takes her away with him to his remote Scottish estate, where he proceeds to rape her nightly for daring to leave him before he said he was done. Very Dumb makes a few token efforts at escape, but mostly there's talk of traitorous bodies and then she cuddles with him at night because Crymore has night terrors (daddy issues). I was not impressed. I was even less impressed when while running away from him yet again, he saves her from falling off a cliff and that's when she decides she loves him. I was even less impressed when Crymore decides he loves her too and is like, "Maybe now I can treat her to some consensual sex at last!" I'm like, "*****, that's not up to you! She decides if it's consensual you **********ing piece of ****. ****!!!" What makes this even more ridiculous is that while all this raping is going on, Crymore is beating him up, forcing himself to do it to keep up appearances, whining all the while that he's a nice guy, and how bad he feels that she pushed him to this and blah, blah blah. Crymore is that super guy you have blocked on Tinder because in his profile he says "I'm a nice guy who's tired of the drama looking for a girl who doesn't play games" but the literal first thing he messages you is "Nice tits - DTF?" with a picture of his peen attached. Anyway, this being a romance novel, Crymore and Very Dumb end up getting together and having teh sex0rs. But then Very Dumb decides that she can't be with him because it would shame his honor or something like that. So she flees him again - and who does she run into but Mommie Dearest, who beats up her brother (again - poor guy) and then announces gleefully that she's going to disfigure Verity and then have her gangbanged by her servants while she watches. And she's a little too excited by this, if you catch my drift, which makes it extraaaaa creepy. But don't worry, because Crymore is a stalker to the very end, and arrives just in time to put a stop to his mother, but not before saying, "F U, Mom! We're still getting married and you get to choose between Norfolk and the mental asylum!" The end. I really liked the beginning but I simply could not stomach the rest. I'm an avid reader of bodice rippers, so it's not the rape aspect that bothered me. It's that it was handled so badly, and with such disrespect to the characters. The author tried to make the rapist into a nice guy, and he didn't even really have to grovel - Very Dumb just decided that she loved him after all, which kind of makes this feel extra super creepy, because you know she probably just came down with Stockholm Syndrome after she was traumatized by all those near-death experiences and abuse. God, even the servants were complicit, saying, basically, "He's a nice guy! Deal with it!" when she told them what he was doing to her and begged them to help her escape. Yeah, no. This was not cool and I'm very disappoint. Hopefully her other book, UNTOUCHED, is better. 1.5 stars

  6. 5 out of 5

    Eastofoz

    Can you give 10 stars because this book is worth 10 big fat gold stars hands down! A phe-no-men-al read. Not only is it beautifully written (we’re talking as good if not better than Lisa Kleypas) it will have you up until 2am squirming out a “geeze, just one more page!” and you’ll find yourself still reading at 6am when the alarm goes off to go to work —yes it is that good! Campbell has a way of segueing from one chapter to the next that you can’t help but turn that page and read on. The story is Can you give 10 stars because this book is worth 10 big fat gold stars hands down! A phe-no-men-al read. Not only is it beautifully written (we’re talking as good if not better than Lisa Kleypas) it will have you up until 2am squirming out a “geeze, just one more page!” and you’ll find yourself still reading at 6am when the alarm goes off to go to work —yes it is that good! Campbell has a way of segueing from one chapter to the next that you can’t help but turn that page and read on. The story is really about a hunt at the beginning and then being saved by the most incredible kind of love imaginable. The Duke of Kylemore is a man to be reckoned with and nothing will stop this guy from getting (at first) revenge on the woman who has left him hanging high and dry –Soraya aka Verity, a mere courtesan. He is so deeply scarred emotionally that you can actually excuse what he does by the end of the book once you understand him. He's a tornado ripping a wasteland of hell through Verity's life because he wants her and she can’t leave him and even if she wanted to, well, that’s just too freakin’ bad sister (!). You don’t find this in today’s regencies. It reminded me of McNaught’s “Whitney, My Love” in some ways with that insane obsession that the hero has for the heroine and she wants nothing to do with him, or so she initially thinks. He’s similar in style to Anne Stuart’s gamma heroes from her Ice series for how cold he can be. Picture the total opposite of Julia’s Quinn’s happy go lucky Bridgertons and here you have an idea of how dark and foreboding this story is which is what makes it so fantastic. As for the steam, well there’s sex right from the start and it’s everywhere as the novel progresses but that’s not necessarily what you really want to get to. It’s the raw emotional roller coaster with every sex act that tears you apart. You’d think that with sex from the onset it’d eventually start to get boring but you couldn’t be further from the truth. The frightening relationship between the h/h is what you want to see. Kylemore is psycho! He treats Verity like crap time and again and she keeps trying to escape. It’s not a love/hate story with arguing and fighting, it’s a captor/captive story where neither can be together nor apart but concessions are made and then …don’t want to give any spoilers now ;-) I cried buckets and buckets of tears at the end because it just hit me like a cement wall. Keep the Kleenex on hand because come that last line you can’t help but fall apart. I was practically dumbstruck, we’re talking mouth hanging open and saying OMG! OMG!, when I finished this book and it’s one of the very few that I wished wouldn’t end. Read this book if you want to feel some serious hate, love, sadness and finally, exquisite joy :)

  7. 5 out of 5

    Fani *loves angst*

    Before people berate me for rating it with 1 star, I have to say I reached p. 250 before I finally admitted defeat. I just couldn't like the hero and the plot no matter what. I hoped that at some point he might redeem himself, but after 2/3 of the book, I had to give up since at that point the heroine started annoying me as much as the hero. Simply put, he's a kidnapper and a rapist. And no, the fact that deep down she wants him too, even though it takes her 3 or 4 tumbles to realize it, doesn't Before people berate me for rating it with 1 star, I have to say I reached p. 250 before I finally admitted defeat. I just couldn't like the hero and the plot no matter what. I hoped that at some point he might redeem himself, but after 2/3 of the book, I had to give up since at that point the heroine started annoying me as much as the hero. Simply put, he's a kidnapper and a rapist. And no, the fact that deep down she wants him too, even though it takes her 3 or 4 tumbles to realize it, doesn't make everything OK for me. Neither does the fact that he's had a wretched childhood and still bears the trauma within. In every chapter we read how he's feeling sorry and ashamed for kidnapping and forcing himself on her, and at the same time, how determined he is to keep her anyway, because 'he needs her'. Creepy, creepy, creepy. The man makes Bastien Toussaint look like a fountain of warmth and tenderness. To me, this was a clear case of Stockholm syndrome rather than romance, because I can't expect any self respecting woman to fall in love with her kidnapper and rapist for any other reason, no matter how hurt and vulnerable he is. And yes, this is not the first 'forced seduction' book I've read and I'm usually fond of bodice rippers, so this shouldn't have been hard to like for me. Edited to add: I finally managed to finish this, but only out of sheer stubborness. I have to admit that the last 100 pages were better, if only for the fact that there was no no-consentual sex anymore. And no, the hero did not redeem himself in anyway IMHO. My 1 star rating remains.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    Just wanted to give a very brief review of Claiming the Courtesan because there are lots of reviews with summaries written about it already. I wasn't sure how the author could handle the rape scenes without totally turning me off to the rest of the book. I was prepared to dislike Kylemore, but as the book progressed, I felt a deep sympathy for him and what he had been through as a child. That didn't excuse how he treated Verity, but as the book progressed, it became less about him forcing her and Just wanted to give a very brief review of Claiming the Courtesan because there are lots of reviews with summaries written about it already. I wasn't sure how the author could handle the rape scenes without totally turning me off to the rest of the book. I was prepared to dislike Kylemore, but as the book progressed, I felt a deep sympathy for him and what he had been through as a child. That didn't excuse how he treated Verity, but as the book progressed, it became less about him forcing her and more about the power struggle between his overwhelming desire for her and her need to be free of her life as a courtesan. The author had me on the edge of my seat right up until the last page...of course I knew they would have their HEA, but I just wanted to reach out and shake Verity. He's a DUKE. He LOVES you. He would DIE for you. He's really RICH too. Put the boy out of his misery already. lol I really enjoyed this book and can't wait to read more from Anna Campbell.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    I had to think about this one for a little while before I could review it. Whew! Now, I went into this book with fair warning from several of my Goodreads friends, so I really can't complain that I was shocked by anything that happened. I gotta say, though, I felt a little dirty when I was done reading. And not 'dirty' in a good way either. The worst part about the whole experience was how much I liked most of the story...which probably contributed to my questioning whether or not I needed to im I had to think about this one for a little while before I could review it. Whew! Now, I went into this book with fair warning from several of my Goodreads friends, so I really can't complain that I was shocked by anything that happened. I gotta say, though, I felt a little dirty when I was done reading. And not 'dirty' in a good way either. The worst part about the whole experience was how much I liked most of the story...which probably contributed to my questioning whether or not I needed to immediately seek counseling. At any rate, I don't feel the least bit bad for this spoiler. Ok, the whole story is about this arrogant duke (Klyemore) who kidnaps his mistress (Verity) when she tries to leave him, and her life as a prostitute, behind her. If you've read a few historical romance novels you'll be pretty familiar with the 'Hero Kidnaps the Heroine' theme. Usually, underneath it all, the guy is a gentlemen and the girl is never in any real danger. However, that is definitely not the case in Ms. Campbell's book. Kylemore not only threatens to rape Verity, but he actually does it! No, I'm not kidding. As in, he forces himself on her, and afterward she goes to wash herself off and cry. Yeah, yeah, there is this part written in there about how 'her body betrays her' and she enjoys herself, but it still didn't make it right. I don't care if she had Niagra Falls running down her legs, SHE SAID NO. I've actually heard that there are two different versions of this book. One with the rape scenes in it, and one without. Well, let me be the first to recommend that you shop around and find the version without. Like I said, I enjoyed the story, and if it hadn't had the felony scenes in there I would have rated it much higher. In fact, I'm basing my three star rating on the idea that I would have been able to enjoy this second version, and not have needed to shower afterward. See, I'm ok with him being a love-sick stalker/psycho kidnapper, just not a rapist. That's normal...right? Right?? *crickets chirping* Ahem. I know that a lot of people who've read this have said that you have to realize that Kylemore is a victim, too. He had a tortured childhood, with a crazy father and an evil mother...yadda, yadda, yadda. And I did (God help me) feel sorry for him. Just not enough. There are thousands of abusers out there right now, who were once victims themselves. And while I feel sorry for the child they used to be, I firmly believe that were are all given a choice in our actions as adults. So, toward the end of the story, when Verity admits her feelings of love toward Kylemore, I couldn't really get behind it. I took a step back, inhaled, and caught a whiff of something that smelled a lot like Stockholm Syndrome. Hmmm. Guess I have to write a slight revision to this review. Some of my lovely friends have just informed me that this particular book does NOT have a second version. Evidentally, I am thinking of another book whose rape scene was toned down in a reprint. Lovely.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Tammy Walton Grant

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. 4.5 stars First I discovered Anne Stuart, and her unforgettable historical romance heroes. Dark, witty, urbane, cynical, sexy and sly. After meeting (and loving) a few of those men I was ready for Sebastian Verlaine, the tortured Viscount D'Aubrey(To Have and To Hold, Patricia Gaffney). Finally, I've been introduced to Justin Kinmurrie, Duke of Kylemore, the heir apparent to the 'Regency noir' throne. What a man. What a story. I first read this book in virtually one sitting. Wonderful book, I thoug 4.5 stars First I discovered Anne Stuart, and her unforgettable historical romance heroes. Dark, witty, urbane, cynical, sexy and sly. After meeting (and loving) a few of those men I was ready for Sebastian Verlaine, the tortured Viscount D'Aubrey(To Have and To Hold, Patricia Gaffney). Finally, I've been introduced to Justin Kinmurrie, Duke of Kylemore, the heir apparent to the 'Regency noir' throne. What a man. What a story. I first read this book in virtually one sitting. Wonderful book, I thought, with a couple of minor annoyances. Then I thought about it a bit and read it again. Upon doing so, all of the depth and complexity of the characters and the story began to shine through. On first blush, the Duke of Kylemore is not a particularly nice man. His prized possession is his mistress - and make no mistake, she is merely his possession. He is enthralled with her and 'she belonged to him, as much a part of his prestige as his perfect tailoring, his famous stables or his rich estates.'. When she disappears after his pronouncement that they should be wed Kylemore is stunned. He spends months searching for her. He makes himself a laughingstock among the ton. He hires criminals to break into a lawyer's office to discover her real name and where she has gone. When he finds her he kidnaps her. At gunpoint. See, not so nice. He ties her up and forces her on a breakneck journey across England, beyond the Scottish border to an isolated hunting box hidden in an valley surrounded by rugged cliffs and inhospitable countryside. There he will force her to submit to him, to pay him recompense for his misery and trouble since she left him. While they are there he forces her to have sex with him, and treats her as his chattel. Not only does no NOT mean no to him, it means nothing. Nothing matters to Kylemore except that he is again in possession of Soraya. What a bastard, you think. And you would be right. Except... The author allows us to see the real man inside "Cold Kylemore". Although initially his idea to marry Soraya was merely to piss off his mother, once he had said the words, he was prepared to do the deed (albeit for reasons that he didn't understand himself). He was fascinated by his mistress and couldn't get enough of her. He sensed there was much behind the image she presented to him but he wasn't able to break through, and knew that was part of her appeal for him. When she disappeared he was like a spoiled child denied his toy and he was consumed with getting her back. Once he had done so, however, it still wasn't enough. He had his toy back, but still felt like crying. He had hunted down Soraya - but instead found Verity. And that changed everything. He found that Verity possessed the depth that Soraya lacked; that even though he had possessed every inch of Soraya, his mistress, Verity was someone he didn't even know. He saw glimpses of Soraya in Verity so kept trying to reach her the only way he knew how - with sex. The only peace he had ever known was with Soraya and he is desperate to get that back. The more response he forces from her, the more she withdraws. He hates what he is doing but cannot stop himself, and his desperation is palpable. We get glimpses of Kylemore as Justin - a frightened little boy trapped with an insane parent. There is mention of the chair that his father was strapped to, the only one sturdy enough to hold him. Not much is said, but the horror of his upbringing is inferred. Kylemore has nightmares and neither he nor Verity are eating much (for completely different reasons, of course). There are bars on all the windows and Kylemore is way too familiar with a hidey-hole in the shrubbery outside of the house. So much angst, so much passion, so much love. All bottled up in a man who has no idea how to express it. Soraya/Verity, on the other hand, is quite different. As Soraya, she presented to the world a cool facade, a beautiful face, a body men killed for. Hidden inside was Verity - orphaned, left to take care of a younger brother and sister in a world where women had virtually no value. Her only option was to become a courtesan. She has locked herself away, desperate to keep her two lives separate until the day she can cast Soraya aside and reclaim her ordinary life with her brother and sister as Verity Ashton. Soraya was leery of the Duke of Kylemore from the get go. She knew that he had wanted her for years before she accepted his offer of protection. She had always held herself back from him. She would not admit to herself how beautiful she found him or how attracted she was to him. She was pulled to him (as he was to her) and she knew that if she stayed with him long enough, and let her guard down just enough, she would be lost. She loved him a bit all along - she saw through him to the wounded little boy he had been, and knew the Cold Kylemore facade was just that. "I think...I think the duke is an unhappy man" she says, to which her brother replies, "As unhappy as a great fortune and a pretty face and all a man can want could be. He's nobbut spoilt, that's all." They are both right. Verity is ready to let him go, and cast off her life as Soraya when Kylemore proposes marriage. She sees through him immediately -- she knows he is hatching a scheme, but cannot figure out exactly what he is up to. All she does know is that she cannot accept. She will be trapped as Soraya and will never be free. She also knows that it would never work - she is a whore, after all. Kylemore will be made mock of and they will both be miserable. She refuses to allow herself to see what she begun to feel for Kylemore - she absolutely cannot in order for her to exist as she is. This is played off against Kylemore, who was enthralled with Soraya, the object, but falls in love with Verity, the person. That was the crux of the book for me. The battle between them is well fought and exhausting. Verity clings to her detachment, believing that if Kylemore's toy won't play with him, he will lose interest and move on. Kylemore is desperate to get past that detachment, to force Verity to see that she can be both Soraya and Verity without losing herself. He tries even harder once he realizes that it is Verity that he wants. They are polarized in their struggle. She thinks: "He hadn't gone to this trouble for the sake of a quick tumble. He hadn't even gone to this trouble to reclaim what he'd shared with Soraya. No, he meant to destroy her. They both knew it....She was as isolated from human assistance as if she were on the moon. Kylemore knew exactly what he was doing when he'd brought his mistress to this isolated hunting box." And at the same time, Kylemore "silently admitted he'd had no idea what he was doing when he brought his mistress to his childhood home. He already suspected that keeping Verity here was a mistake. She only made him more vulnerable, just as this place made him vulnerable. And if ever he needed to hold fast to ruthlessness, it was now." They are so far apart at the beginning, both so blind to what the other is feeling. Even more blind to what they themselves are feeling. That's why this book works. If Kylemore had kept her in London, or even Kylemore Castle - it would never have worked; he wouldn't have redeemed himself. The abduction and rape would have been just that and his behaviour toward her repugnant. He would never have looked inside himself enough to realize that he LOVED Verity. Nor would Verity have ever glimpsed Justin behind Kylemore. It is precisely the isolation, in a house where Justin has nothing but horrible memories that makes this work so well. The author shows us both the H/h innermost feelings - which helps us to understand Kylemore's actions. You can see him begin to redeem himself, first with his thoughts, and then with his actions. He is desperate - anyone who has ever loved that way knows exactly the feeling to which he is subject - nothing is out of the realm, and you will go to ridiculous lengths to hang on to the thing you fear you cannot live without. And again, it is precisely the quality of writing, the layers to the characters and the emotion Anna Campbell brings to this story that lets us see what they are feeling, to feel it along with them, and to see the walls that Kylemore and Verity have built up around themselves come down, brick by brick. The best moment in the book for me comes when Kylemore finally realizes the depths to which he has sunk in order to possess Verity. He accepts that he has to let her go - to do the right thing. ”His only consolation was that, finally, too late and after the damage was done, he'd found the will to act like a man". My heart broke for him. Verity, in the meantime, after hearing some of the stories of Kylemore's youth, finally admits to herself what she was never able to in London - she is in love with the Duke of Kylemore. Finally, they come together on equal footing - not as demimondaine and protector, not as captor and prisoner, but as lovers. It is tender, profound, and lifechanging. And I wanted to stand up and cheer!!! All of this, of course, does not mean that Kylemore has redeemed himself completely. He is well on his way, but it takes him until the end of the story to finish the job and he does so admirably, in ways guaranteed to make your heart melt. Oh, this book is beautifully done. So well written, so many layers to the story. The characters are so real, so compelling I couldn't put it down. I could feel Kylemore's desperation at trying to reach Verity. I could feel Verity's desperate need to keep herself detached from Kylemore, and the agony she felt when she couldn't. And most of all, I could feel the depth of the love and the passion they felt for each other. So, at the end of the day, not such a bastard. Any man who would say, when asked by Verity if he loved her: Shamingly, his voice broke as he answered. "I die for love of you, mo leannan." can't be all bad.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Holly

    This was a fascinating book. It was truly fascinating and yet so depressing. It's quiet and moody and well, romance noir. The aliented, doomed hero and the femme fatale. Corruption, madness, and moral breakdown. It's all here. And it's sometimes hard to read. Claiming The Courtesan starts with the incomparable beauty Soraya and her protector the Duke of Kylemore, Justin Kinmurrie enjoying a postcoital glow. All is right with Kylemore's world, he possesses the mistress that is the envy of the ton This was a fascinating book. It was truly fascinating and yet so depressing. It's quiet and moody and well, romance noir. The aliented, doomed hero and the femme fatale. Corruption, madness, and moral breakdown. It's all here. And it's sometimes hard to read. Claiming The Courtesan starts with the incomparable beauty Soraya and her protector the Duke of Kylemore, Justin Kinmurrie enjoying a postcoital glow. All is right with Kylemore's world, he possesses the mistress that is the envy of the ton and he's decided upon the perfect revenge against his interfering witch of a mother. Marriage to the courtesan, Soraya. What he doesn't know is that Soraya has been planning her escape of him and is in fact going to leave him within a fortnight. Enraged and humiliated, he tracks her down three months later and by gunpoint, kidnaps her and drags her to his tumbledown hunting box deep in the Scottish Highlands. He's determined to break her indomitable will and force her to acknowledge him as her master, her lover and eventually, her husband. He doesn't know that beneath Soraya's silken sensuality and urbane sophistication lies Verity, the woman underneath the courtesan facade, and Verity has a core of steel that refuses to bow down to his demands. Her refusals to accept him threatens to break Kylemore's tenuous hold on his sanity and his methods of ensuring her obedience grows desperate. She must submit to him. She must love him, because if she does not, the madness that lurks within the Kinmurrie blood could overtake him and then all he holds dear will be lost. Kylemore has the requisite tortured childhood and the type of evil mother that has ruined many a good man. He knows the threat of insanity that lies dormant in his family blood because he watched his father go down that path and to this day, it terrifies him. The only thing that stands bastion against his fears is knowing he has his Soraya by his side. When she leaves he is desperate to get her back. While he is desperate, I wouldn't call Kylemore pathetic. Anna Campbell, IMO, straddles that line well and as such, makes him a man who can be redeemed. He knows that what he is doing to Verity, the woman, is wrong. He literally can't help himself. He needs her. He needs her to keep the demons away and save him from himself. While that need and love battles back and forth from obsession and dependence he will eventually stand on his own two feet. To see him do that at the end of the book was, well, for lack of a better word, fascinating. I applauded his ability to shake off the shackles of his parents and realize that despite the ever present threat of insanity, he can rise above it and be a better man. In all honesty, I don't believe there was an actual insanity gene in his bloodline, more like a debilitating capacity for horrifying self indulgence. With Verity removing herself from Kylemore's grasp/toybox, he at first reacts with childish fury. How dare she steal herself away from him, he thinks. When she stood up to him, she forced him to realize that his needs and wants can't always come first. He might have wanted to strip away the strictures of his dukedom, but he liked the power. When he comes to terms with that and realizes that Verity is a person, he can allow himself to step back a little, and learn to love the woman. Soraya/Verity was I thought, worse off than Kylemore. At least he knew he had problems, she didn't. She was forced to create the courtesan Soraya out of need and desperation and over the years she completely split herself in two. Soraya, who could do anything or be anything and Verity, who remained clean and untouched. When Verity leaves Soraya behind she thinks to immerse herself in good works and live a celibate and demure existence. While I completely sympathize with her anger and frustration at being dragged back to Kylemore I think he ultimately did her a favor, because she needed to come to grips with both sides of her personality and meld them into one person. In my opinion Kylemore raped Verity. Repeatedly. While I understand his confusion in Verity's claims that she was not Soraya, I still believe what he did to her constitutes rape and humiliation. The journey from Yorkshire into the Highlands was meant to break her will and he nearly succeeds. He holds the threat of her rape over her head the entire time and when he finally comes to her, she tells him plainly and in an unequivocal manner, no. She does not want him to touch her. In fact, she's practically exhausted herself with fear. He ignores her wants and desires and forces himself on her anyway. It is part desire on his part and part punishment. I hated Kylemore in those scenes. Anna Campbell doesn't stop at one scene, however. Kylemore comes back for more, night after night. She tries to run away from him repeatedly, into the deadly wilderness of the Highlands but he just drags her back. Whether or not he knows enough about her body to make her respond to him is irrelevant, he forced her to engage in sexual acts not of her choosing. Once all the inner emotional turmoil is dispensed with however, their sex turns into lovemaking. Verity realizes she has always been fascinated by the duke and once she comes to terms with the fact she can be both Verity and Soraya, both the Madonna and the whore, she acknowledges to herself at least that she loves him. She refuses to be deserted by him though and have her heart broken, so when he asks her to marry him again she refuses. She won't make him a laughingstock and a pariah and neither will she do that to herself. This is when Kylemore realizes she is sincere and whole and that there is nothing more he can do but challenge her as she challenged him. After all this exhausting angst and inner turmoil, Claiming the Courtesan delves back into familiar romance territory with the damsel in distress and the rescuing hero on horseback and then the requisite groveling scene. While it's still dark as hell, this is actually a relief! What I'm trying to say with this exhaustive review is that Claiming the Courtesan was a fascinating read, but I wouldn't want to read it again. Too exhausting, too depressing and too full of emotional inner turmoil. This is not a romance to be swept away in, nor is it a book full of humor and love. It's full of everyday people and problems hiding behind a mask of Regency glitter and titles. This is not a pretty story and in actuality gets down right ugly at times. It's a grotesque gothic horror that leaves you feeling stunned and awed. If ever two people deserved a happily ever after, it was these two.

  12. 4 out of 5

    KatieV

    I had to read this because of all the hoopla and the fact that friends who tend to share my tastes were all over the place with their ratings on this one. Personally, I was intrigued until about 50% and then got bored to death and skimmed the rest. I hated that, because I'd love to see a resurgence of the bodice ripper for those of us who enjoy it. I know the very idea offends some people, but I'd be more than happy to put up with warning labels such as "contains forced seduction, rape, etc" if I had to read this because of all the hoopla and the fact that friends who tend to share my tastes were all over the place with their ratings on this one. Personally, I was intrigued until about 50% and then got bored to death and skimmed the rest. I hated that, because I'd love to see a resurgence of the bodice ripper for those of us who enjoy it. I know the very idea offends some people, but I'd be more than happy to put up with warning labels such as "contains forced seduction, rape, etc" if it meant publishers would take on the genre again. Besides, I don't have triggers, but it's my understanding that people who do have them are more than just offended by certain content. It can literally cause a panic attack or other severe reaction. Some may see a warning label as a spoiler, but I don't see how that small annoyance compares to compromising someone's emotional well-being. This has been bandied about as a 'bodice ripper'. In some ways I agree. It is most definitely a homage to that genre, but it is heavily shaded by more modern view points. Also, the author attempted to flip some of the old BR tropes on their head. The heroine wasn't a virgin, she wasn't years younger than the H (she was actually 1 year older), and she was ancient by old-school standards at the "ripe old age" of 28. All of those things could have been intriguing, but this fell flat with me for several reasons. Obviously, based on the varying opinions, this is subjective and many people may totally disagree with me. 1)Too much internal dialogue, too little action. The hero and his constant internal 'I suck' dialog got old and made him less of romantic alpha hero and more pathetic and neurotic. I affectionately think of Lord Kylemore as crazy-pants emo-boy. The old bodice rippers were generally told exclusively or almost exclusively from the heroine's point of view. I admit I do sometimes think that some hero POV is nice, but not too much. I feel more immersed in the story when I have to interpret events through the one point of view, especially when you understand the heroine's interpretation of events is flawed due to emotional involvement, etc. Doing a single point of view is harder to write in my opinion. You have to present everything through the lens of one person, and keep it in-character even if you as the writer totally disagree with the POV characters thoughts, actions, feelings. You also have to rely on the reader to not just take everything at face value and draw their own conclusions rather than telling them what they should think/feel. Besides, it makes the hero more of the big, strong silent type. Perhaps I'm too old to understand the emo-boy fascination. 2) Too much modern psychology gave it a very anachronistic feel. This goes hand in hand with all the internal dialogue. For example, the hero pretty much diagnoses the heroine with a dissociative disorder and essentially declared the cure was uniting her two personae into one. Thank you Dr. Crazy Pants. Okay, he had a point, but it seemed so out of place for the times. Verity/Soraya didn't have a split peronality, but she did create Soraya's persona as a way of coping with the necessity of becoming a courtesan at 15. Soraya was the sinful, shameless, grasping whore who did whatever it took to survive. While inside she was still Verity, who was very much a pious Mary Sue who didn't like/want sex and only wished to dedicate her life to charitable works and taking care of her younger siblings. Hint: she was truly a mixture of both. And, poor Lord Kylemore was just an abused child inside, complete with night terrors and his own largely false persona that he hid behind. Long story short. Not my cuppa.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kathrynn

    Felt Claiming the Courtesan had a lot of potential, but for me the lengthy narration between the dialogue and further explaining the character's behavior was just too much. Also felt the ending dragged out too long and grew tired of the "I'm leaving," "Please stay with me," angst that reared its ugly head--again. The two characters were fine and both had a lot of growing to do in their journey(s) through this book. Justin had a lot to learn about life, love and women and he did well getting his a Felt Claiming the Courtesan had a lot of potential, but for me the lengthy narration between the dialogue and further explaining the character's behavior was just too much. Also felt the ending dragged out too long and grew tired of the "I'm leaving," "Please stay with me," angst that reared its ugly head--again. The two characters were fine and both had a lot of growing to do in their journey(s) through this book. Justin had a lot to learn about life, love and women and he did well getting his act together. Verity, was a year older than Justin and was just trying to survive. Most of the book was set in Scotland. There was the evil future mother-n-law that, for me, didn't quite get what she deserved. One annoyingly unanswered question that I can't say more without posting a spoiler, but the answer to that question is in the sequel Temp the Devil, which I mistakenly read first. The two books are very loosely connected. Except for the one "answer to the unanswered question" a person could read them in any order. There were very brief mentions of Verity and Justin in Tempt... and they appeared in one scene toward the end.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Zeek

    I've had this one in my TBR pile and today decided it was time to clear it from list. Honestly I tried it before and though I was extremely intrigued by the heroine, I quickly realized I was going to have invest a little more time in the hero than a cursory glance. SO I put the book down until that time. I gave him more time today and unfortunately, he's still an asswipe- not a tool, not a douchebag an ass. wipe. Dont get me wrong, you who have read a review or two by me before know that I am mor I've had this one in my TBR pile and today decided it was time to clear it from list. Honestly I tried it before and though I was extremely intrigued by the heroine, I quickly realized I was going to have invest a little more time in the hero than a cursory glance. SO I put the book down until that time. I gave him more time today and unfortunately, he's still an asswipe- not a tool, not a douchebag an ass. wipe. Dont get me wrong, you who have read a review or two by me before know that I am more than generous with the heroes that alot of people can't stand, in fact, those are the types of heroes I usually prefer. (What can I say, I like a challenging personality.) But this guy is just a mean bully and though I'm sure the author redeems him at some point, explaining about his defense mechanisms and such, I just cant stand a person who has to harm those weaker than them to get what they want. Unfortunately for Claiming the Courtesan something was missing to hook me enough to care to see him turned around. (And yes that was before the infamous "forced seduction" scenes- which I never got to anyway.) So, No. DNF.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    I have to agree with other 4/5 star reviews about this book. It was so emotionally taxing. Some people say 'roller-coaster ride' and I think that sums it up nicely! I found myself elated and then heartbroken throughout the story. What a fantastic whirlwind! There was so much darkness and hatred in the beginning of this story that I thought I might not like it. In fact, it made me a little uncomfortable at times. But the author did a fabulous job helping us as readers understand and even want to s I have to agree with other 4/5 star reviews about this book. It was so emotionally taxing. Some people say 'roller-coaster ride' and I think that sums it up nicely! I found myself elated and then heartbroken throughout the story. What a fantastic whirlwind! There was so much darkness and hatred in the beginning of this story that I thought I might not like it. In fact, it made me a little uncomfortable at times. But the author did a fabulous job helping us as readers understand and even want to show compassion to these characters as we learned of their past and the wretchedness that ate them every day of their lives. This is going into my all-time favorites list. I haven't read a story quite like this one before, and it was refreshing!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Katie(babs)

    Anna Campbell's debut novel for Avon will have people talking. Some may consider this book a new type of bodice ripper that was written as they were back in the 1970's or 1980's. Before making a decision I recommend people read Anne Stuart's A Rose At Midnight first and then this book. The author must have read that before because her plot and characters are very much the same as Stuart's. The heroine Soraya aka Verity is England's most sought after Courtesan. After a year of being with our cold Anna Campbell's debut novel for Avon will have people talking. Some may consider this book a new type of bodice ripper that was written as they were back in the 1970's or 1980's. Before making a decision I recommend people read Anne Stuart's A Rose At Midnight first and then this book. The author must have read that before because her plot and characters are very much the same as Stuart's. The heroine Soraya aka Verity is England's most sought after Courtesan. After a year of being with our cold unfeeling hero Justin, she will disappear after years of being a plaything for a man's pleasure. Well, when Justin finds out he goes mad. He starts out as an obsessive, manical just plain jerk. He finds Soraya and kidnaps her and wants revenge against her for what she has done. Don't we all know what type of revenge he has in store? There are a few scenes in the middle of the book of forced seduction or rape as some may say. One scene in my opinion is rape, afterwards questionable. If you are uncomfortable with this portrayal, simply do not read this book. This is not a light hearted romance in the least. Both main characters go through feelings of betrayal, emotional and physical abuse along with feelings of desperation and coldness. The hero has so much baggage and inner darkness that he feels it is his right to take it out on the heroine because after all, she is his mistress. (even though after a year, their contact was to be null and void). Verity just did what she had to survive as a woman in the mid 19th century with no money or family to take care of her. She is a good portayal of what a heroine should be. Justin on the other hand was a whiney brute but was redeemed at the end. (Hey, we need a happily ever after don't we?) If you can get past the anger, abuse and over the top hero angst, there lies a passionate love story. (Think Luke and Laura of General Hospital fame). Avon took a gamble on this book and if you like passionate sex scenes, a hero who is damaged but redeemed by the love of the heroine, than this one is for you. Campbell is one to watch and see what her future works will be like. Maybe the forced seductions won't be needed as much.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ana

    original read: 2008 To date, this book is the darkest romance novel I have ever read, in that it deals with obsession, child abuse and sexual assault. If any of this is triggering to you, avoid this book. Everyone I know that has read this book has vastly different opinions on it and I can see the pros and cons of this book. The relationship between the leads is very well developed and intense, but this you still need to go in expecting ravishment/forced sex situation. The novel feels at times Go original read: 2008 To date, this book is the darkest romance novel I have ever read, in that it deals with obsession, child abuse and sexual assault. If any of this is triggering to you, avoid this book. Everyone I know that has read this book has vastly different opinions on it and I can see the pros and cons of this book. The relationship between the leads is very well developed and intense, but this you still need to go in expecting ravishment/forced sex situation. The novel feels at times Gothic and even claustrophobic. I'm being purposefully vague, because the blurb on the book is pretty clear about the subject matter and this book will stick with me a long time from now. It was really intense and there were parts where I was second-guessing my reactions and those of the characters. In the past, romance has had a bad rep for condoning sexual violence and it's interesting to see the subject being brought up again but I wish there were real consequences to the domestic abuse and rape. Instead the book wraps up to neatly and the mother thing was just ridiculous. As if our hero wasn't enough of a problem...

  18. 5 out of 5

    boogenhagen

    I love bodice rippers, they were my first romances and they were awesome and terribly non-pc or nice to their heroines. But that was what made them great. The heroines had to dig deep and rise above their limits to triumph in the end - which they did pretty regularly. This wanted to be a bodice ripper and yet it got so bogged down in the minutiae of why and poor, broken childhoods that it utterly failed. AC tried, but it did not work and I don't think I was supposed to be laughing for over two th I love bodice rippers, they were my first romances and they were awesome and terribly non-pc or nice to their heroines. But that was what made them great. The heroines had to dig deep and rise above their limits to triumph in the end - which they did pretty regularly. This wanted to be a bodice ripper and yet it got so bogged down in the minutiae of why and poor, broken childhoods that it utterly failed. AC tried, but it did not work and I don't think I was supposed to be laughing for over two thirds of this book. The old skool bodice rippers had H's who were bastards because that was just how they were, the h's understood that, the reader understood that and it was a really fun time cause the h's had to really be smart to work around that and still win in the end. I couldn't admire the h in this, I did not care about the H and really, he wasn't that bad compared to Sean Culhane of Stormfire of true bodice ripper fame. So overall the book is not terrible, it just wasn't any fun and I am going to stick to the old skool in the future.

  19. 5 out of 5

    FlibBityFLooB

    3.5/5 stars. This book left me shaking my head after I finished the last few pages. I really wanted to like the book, but it fell short for me. I don't mind dark novels, and this one was certainly darker than a typical romance. I didn't object to the coercion scenes that bordered on rape. The controversy didn't bother me. However, I didn't feel moved by either Justin or Verity. I didn't feel passion between them, and I know that should have been the cornerstone of the book. I felt like it was a c 3.5/5 stars. This book left me shaking my head after I finished the last few pages. I really wanted to like the book, but it fell short for me. I don't mind dark novels, and this one was certainly darker than a typical romance. I didn't object to the coercion scenes that bordered on rape. The controversy didn't bother me. However, I didn't feel moved by either Justin or Verity. I didn't feel passion between them, and I know that should have been the cornerstone of the book. I felt like it was a constant tennis match: "I love you" now "I hate you". "Leave me alone" now "Come soothe me". "Don't touch me" now "Save me from falling off this cliff". One minute they feel one way, then it seems the next paragraph they're feeling the exact opposite, but with little explanation for why they changed their minds. *Sigh* I really wanted to like it. I will likely read another by this author, because the prose seemed well written. I just didn't feel engaged by the characters.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Aly is so frigging bored

    3.5* Do you guys remember the books other HR heroins talked about? Those with mad barons/dukes and virginal heroins who keep getting abducted and/or raped and fall in love with their rapists? Well, this is one of those books and it even has purple prose! I don't know why in the end I enjoyed it, but I did :)) PS: It seems even more of a bodice-ripper then most bodice-rippers from the 80s(at least those I've read) 3.5* Do you guys remember the books other HR heroins talked about? Those with mad barons/dukes and virginal heroins who keep getting abducted and/or raped and fall in love with their rapists? Well, this is one of those books and it even has purple prose! I don't know why in the end I enjoyed it, but I did :)) PS: It seems even more of a bodice-ripper then most bodice-rippers from the 80s(at least those I've read)

  21. 5 out of 5

    BJ Rose

    Lust does not equal love. Obsession = stalker, not love. Had I cared more about the two protagonists, I might have been able to make this a weak 3*. I understood Verity's rationale for doing what she did at 15, but Kylemore's emotional development appeared to have been frozen at his 7-year-old self, and that just wasn't appealing at all. Lust does not equal love. Obsession = stalker, not love. Had I cared more about the two protagonists, I might have been able to make this a weak 3*. I understood Verity's rationale for doing what she did at 15, but Kylemore's emotional development appeared to have been frozen at his 7-year-old self, and that just wasn't appealing at all.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Roksana

    5 Heartwrenching stars! “I’ll give you the world if you stay... “My God, woman, don’t you know I’d lie down and die for you if you asked?” This is the sort of passion of the "hero" one could wish to experience at least once in their life time...that is bigger than earth, deeper than sea and universally never-ending! The hero here is not a knight in shining armor, but dark creature with only one goal in mind... To possess the heroine his courtesan, because away from her, he felt incom 5 Heartwrenching stars! “I’ll give you the world if you stay... “My God, woman, don’t you know I’d lie down and die for you if you asked?” This is the sort of passion of the "hero" one could wish to experience at least once in their life time...that is bigger than earth, deeper than sea and universally never-ending! The hero here is not a knight in shining armor, but dark creature with only one goal in mind... To possess the heroine his courtesan, because away from her, he felt incomplete He is one "HERO" that contradict himself with his words and actions that makes him a very complex character the reader may hate and at at the same time root for! I decided to have faith in him in his journey for redemption to the very end and the outcome took my breath away! Granted, his treatment of the heroine was very brutal and questionable exposing his dark side..kidnapping the heroine, forcing himself on her keeping her imprisoned isolated from any outside world... but the author did not leave me in the dark for long and offered light that in the end restored the heroes true self to the path that promised retribution, redemption and hope that could conquer even his darkest side. The "hero" here is unique... because he has eyes only for the "HEROINE" his passion is so powerful, its light never burns out, but with each of every day get stronger and its intensity reaches the highest level imaginable not giving up on his heroine because he knows that "Verity was all that stood between him and madness" and Light and dark battled for supremacy in Kylemore’s soul Because ."Without her he was the same wretched miscreant he’d always been. Redemption, expiation and absolution were utterly beyond his reach" his heart had always recognized her as his other half and she’d seen the worst of him. Yet she accepted him because she couldn’t fight the man who cried out in the night and clung to her as if she was his only hope. IMO this "Hero" is one of the most fascinating characters ever encountered in my reading romances...showing his vulnerable side as well as dark, complicated and rough side..that was captivating to watch, especially his transformation that redeemed him in every way! There was a moment when the author went too far with the melodrama caused by the heroine's infatuation of "worthiness" following refusing the heroes marriage that frustrated me to no end. The "Hero" was ready to take his life for her and loved her so passionately..even prepared to let her go for his previous sins even though he new he would not know how to live without her she still refused to be with him...I was screaming at her.... Woman have you lost your mind???..This man loves you with every breath he takes and you still deny him??? His perseverance and determination to keep the heroine no matter what was the victory to truly have her as his wife and this quality is very memorable....its teach us of our determination to never give up in our pursuits of what we really want in our lifes And because of that determination the "Heroes" wish come trough and he truly claimed his courtesan forever

  23. 4 out of 5

    Maureen Feeney

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Everything has been said about the plot so wont add to it. Im knackered after reading this, I feel not only emotionally but physically drained as if I have been shook for an hour by Hulk Hogan. Emotions and feelings flying rampantly all over the place in this book, hate, love, revenge, tortured childhoods, rape, nightmares etc, Im worn out. This book has the feel of a novel written in the 80s from the drama point of view. This book gripped me and I couldn't put it down. Verity and Kylemore were in Everything has been said about the plot so wont add to it. Im knackered after reading this, I feel not only emotionally but physically drained as if I have been shook for an hour by Hulk Hogan. Emotions and feelings flying rampantly all over the place in this book, hate, love, revenge, tortured childhoods, rape, nightmares etc, Im worn out. This book has the feel of a novel written in the 80s from the drama point of view. This book gripped me and I couldn't put it down. Verity and Kylemore were intense and I couldn't help feeling sorry for them and liking them. I love the strong brooding Hero and though Kylemore was arrogant at first, you soon see his vulnerable side. He was never freely given affection and always had to take or pay for what he wanted. I don't think he knew anything else and it was sad that all he wanted was to be held by someone who genuinely wanted to hold and hug him. Verity was a sad person who always put everyone else first. If any two people were made for each other, then its these two. Even at the end you know that their HEA is not going to be easy sailing, but that they loved each other. The one gripe I have is that the old bat of a mother got off too light. Great book

  24. 5 out of 5

    Quinn

    Claiming the Courtesan is one of those books that seems to polarize readers. I think there are a couple of obvious reasons for this: 1. Many readers do not like to read a courtesan/prostitute character as the heroine 2. This book does contain rape/forced seduction scenes I can completely understand and respect the response of readers with these views and preferences. But Claiming the Courtesan was so much more. It was beautifully written with an ease of style that had time losing meaning while the p Claiming the Courtesan is one of those books that seems to polarize readers. I think there are a couple of obvious reasons for this: 1. Many readers do not like to read a courtesan/prostitute character as the heroine 2. This book does contain rape/forced seduction scenes I can completely understand and respect the response of readers with these views and preferences. But Claiming the Courtesan was so much more. It was beautifully written with an ease of style that had time losing meaning while the pages turned. It was about the growth and healing of characters with deep emotional scars. Big mistakes and bigger redemption. At it's core, it was the deepest, most gripping and honest love story I have read in a long time. This is one of those books that when the last page is turned, you gently close the book and hug it to your chest, lost in the thoughts and feelings wrung out of you by this emotional and powerful journey. This is one that will stay with you long after reading and I'm so glad I didn't miss it.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

    I can't say too much about this one because I just finished and I'm kinda stunned. This was not what I would call a light, easy, read. It was intense and I had quite a few times where I found myself all knotted up waiting to see how something would pan out. Both Verity and Justin are rather flawed, perhaps one more than the other, and for differing reasons, but, as is true in romance, they break through the issues with each other and their love brings them some semblance of survival. Damn, this wa I can't say too much about this one because I just finished and I'm kinda stunned. This was not what I would call a light, easy, read. It was intense and I had quite a few times where I found myself all knotted up waiting to see how something would pan out. Both Verity and Justin are rather flawed, perhaps one more than the other, and for differing reasons, but, as is true in romance, they break through the issues with each other and their love brings them some semblance of survival. Damn, this was good. Recommend.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Irene

    Thank you Anna Campbell for writing Claiming the Courtesan! This is an impressive debut and the HR universe is so much richer because of it. Less than a week of discovering Campbell’s works, I have read the one that started it all… Overall, CTC sprints to a strong start, dipping in action during the middle but rebounds quickly enough with an ending that carries it triumphantly through to the finish line. Captivating and intelligent, CTC is a harbinger of good things to come! There’s something abo Thank you Anna Campbell for writing Claiming the Courtesan! This is an impressive debut and the HR universe is so much richer because of it. Less than a week of discovering Campbell’s works, I have read the one that started it all… Overall, CTC sprints to a strong start, dipping in action during the middle but rebounds quickly enough with an ending that carries it triumphantly through to the finish line. Captivating and intelligent, CTC is a harbinger of good things to come! There’s something about the “hero abducts heroine as mistress for no particular reason” storyline. After reading about this countless times in stories, mostly as a passing threat by the hero, I’m now automatically impressed by an author that goes through with the scenario. Brenda Joyce does this brilliantly in The Masquerade and Karen Robards almost goes through with this in Forbidden Love. CTC is the second novel I’ve read where the hero truly makes good on this promise, and I’m not counting the Connie Masons and Catherine Coulters of the world. I’d like to think of CTC as the new Bodice Ripper, and I love a revival any way I can get it around these gloriously dark stories of the 1980s that are so weird, outlandish and super satisfying. After an excellent beginning where Justin Kinmurrie, the Duke of Kylemore absconds with his unwilling mistress, Verity Ashton, to one of his Scottish properties hidden in some godforsaken glen, there is an action slump. Things get predictable. I was hoping to dig deeper but instead, we get pulled back from the darkness. Things picked up again after Verity attempts to escape and from there, things really get interesting. CTC is an homage to BD plots full of vindictive, bloodthirsty female villains, and physical harm to the heroine before the end. Verity’s brother Ben also gets the short end of the stick. Every time he’s on the page, I swear he is being beaten up or held at gunpoint. Anyways. Campbell wrote this story based on the kernel of an idea she had about a duke who wanted to marry his mistress. It is an unconventional take on this tale, and I highly recommend reading Campbell’s Tempt the Devil (TTD) to see the similarities and differences between the two mistress stories, and the role reversals. In CTC, Verity is the doubter concerned about the practical and social ramifications of legitimizing their relationship in matrimony, but in TTD, it is the hero’s turn to face the music. I love the larger lesson of Verity reconciling all her different sides - Soraya and Verity - together, to celebrate without shame and ultimately honour and accept herself for who she is.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    This book was intense and wonderful! It was not an easy read. It messed with my emotions and I was even torn at moments as to whether I should like the hero or hate him. Feel free to read my review, although I am afraid it truly does not do this book justice. The Duke of Kylemore wants to make his mistress his wife. Men have been known to fight duels over Soraya and three men have committed suicide because they could not have her as a mistress. Kylemore waited 5 years before she agreed to become This book was intense and wonderful! It was not an easy read. It messed with my emotions and I was even torn at moments as to whether I should like the hero or hate him. Feel free to read my review, although I am afraid it truly does not do this book justice. The Duke of Kylemore wants to make his mistress his wife. Men have been known to fight duels over Soraya and three men have committed suicide because they could not have her as a mistress. Kylemore waited 5 years before she agreed to become his mistress. It was a grueling 5 years for him and his passion for her grew even stronger for her in that time. He wanted no other woman from the time he first laid eyes on her and in my opinion he became obsessed with her. Soraya was then his mistress for one year, when he decided to make her his wife, and she would be his wife, he was a duke after all and no one would deny a duke anything. Only Soraya disappeared before he could make that happen. Verity Ashton, otherwise known as Soraya the famous Courtesan, was finally free! She became a mistress at the age of 15 out of necessity to care for her younger brother and sister after their parents' deaths. Verity became Soraya and was very good at what she did and was paid very well. She saved as much money as she could while also providing for her siblings. She had a plan to one day be able to leave her life behind as Soraya and finally be a free woman again. That day had come at last, thanks to the money the Duke paid her to be his mistress, but she was leaving all that behind now. So she disappeared to begin her life again as Verity. It took Kylemore three months to track her down and when he did he vowed never to allow her to leave again. She was the only one who had ever brought him any peace, the only one who could help keep his nightmares at bay, the only one who had given his life any happiness. Kylemore had a lot of baggage he carried around with him. His father was insane and would beat him when he was in one of his rages. His mother was just as crazy and mean! The more you learn about Kylemore the more you sympathize with him and drives him to do the things he does. Although that should not excuse his actions. Once Kylemore found Soraya, he kidnapped her and made her his prisoner in a hunting lodge that belongs to his family in Scotland. It is in a very harsh environment which keeps her from escaping or from being found. As his prisoner, Kylemore demands that she belong to him, body and soul. Verity cannot keep him from claiming her body but she builds some very strong defenses against him to keep him from capturing her soul and her love. Only the more she learns about him and the things that torment his poor soul, the more she starts to fall in love with him and her defenses start to crumble. There were parts of the book where I wanted to hate Kylemore, such as when he forced her to be with him physically. I cannot tolerate that and there is no excuse for any person that forces him/herself on another! But that being said, I can understand what drove him to do that. He was so tortured and lost and the only thing that kept him stable was Verity. She was the only one ever to give him peace in his soul, the only one who could make him feel anything at all. So I ended up loving Kylemore and all of his flaws and so did Verity. And he fought hard to keep her and I respected him for that. I think that Verity and Kylemore had a lot of growing to do and I don't think their relationship was going to be an easy one. But they did end up being good for one another. And, just so you know, Kylemore did feel a lot of guilt and remorse for the things he forced upon Verity, but her love for him in the end helped him to work through those feelings. I recommend this book to anyone who can enjoy a very well written book, but not to anyone who is especially sensitive to the subject of rape. Like I said before, it is not an easy read on your emotions, you will be angry, you will cry, but in the end you will have read an excellent book that is different from anything else that I have ever read and you will be so happy with the growth that the hero and heroine go through.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Wendy, Lady Evelyn Quince

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Although I'm not a fan of the execution of Claiming the Courtesan, I thought it was refreshing what Anna Campbell tried to do accomplish in her first book. I categorize this style of book as a neo-bodice ripper, in that it tries to capture the sexual power struggles contained in those older books, but it’s very modern in its presentation. I appreciated that Campbell attempted to create in Kylemore: a loathsome, detestable anti-hero, who cared only for his spoiled, noble self and he initially dre Although I'm not a fan of the execution of Claiming the Courtesan, I thought it was refreshing what Anna Campbell tried to do accomplish in her first book. I categorize this style of book as a neo-bodice ripper, in that it tries to capture the sexual power struggles contained in those older books, but it’s very modern in its presentation. I appreciated that Campbell attempted to create in Kylemore: a loathsome, detestable anti-hero, who cared only for his spoiled, noble self and he initially drew my attention. However, what was produced on paper was mostly a bratty, uncharismatic, psycho stalker. I know I’m an anomaly in this, but I yearn for the days of a stoic, inscrutable hero, whose actions spoke more than his thoughts, and when he spoke, the words meant something. I prefer to be in the hero’s head as little as possible. Here, we're given every angsty thought, every hateful or lustful urge, every single feeling. Soraya/Verity, with her dual personality, was an interesting yet flawed depiction of a woman who had to sell her body to help her family survive. It seemed to me like Campbell intended this to be a romantic feminist oeuvre, just like any good bodice ripper (because I do believe, despite the rapey-reputation, bodice rippers are ultimately very feminist), but fell this book couldn’t achieve what the great rippers of the '70s & '80s did, which was to enlighten and titillate at the same time. This was too emo. There was so much introspection and bad sex, it bored me. The problem with books like Claiming the Courtesan is that authors forget what was missing from the great books of old: you got to watch the plot progress. Besides being emotionally overwrought, what CtC lacked was tension. The drama doesn’t unfold as we’re already in the middle of the story. Imagine if instead of already being lovers, the book began with Kylemore meeting Verity, a courtesan desired by many men, then slowly he seduced her away from her protector. All the while, Verity would be conflicted but determined to end her career as a prostitute and retire. We’d see into more Verity & Kylemore’s relationship, perhaps a snarky side character or two, and more about Kylemore’s evil mother. Then (just like the book began) Verity would flee from him, Kylemore would track her down and kidnap her, and then we’d see how their unusual bond progress. Finally, in the end, we’d get to know how they dealt with their scandalous relationship in society, instead of them just making promises of love for the future. Perhaps they’d decide to say to hell with this stifling society and go to the colonies. A sex scene or two would have been omitted, along with dozens of pages of inner monologue. But that’s your action, that’s a story. Instead, there’s a thin, watered-down plot. There were 2 1/2 long chapters where after Verity is kidnapped (and that part takes up a huge portion of the book) that she escapes from her carriage, gets lost in the dark, and is chased by Kylemore then is finally caught again and brought to his castle. Was that necessary? That’s my frustration with so many romances of the last decade; they’ve lost the art of storytelling in favor of emotional overload. This book could have sparked a retro genre of 21st-century bodice rippers, rather than just being a short gimmick of a plot that led to a bit of controversy. If I want to read a romance with violent power struggles and dominance issues between the hero and heroine, they rarely exist in historicals anymore, which are watered down and cookie-cutter. Contemporary set BDSM or eroticas are where I’d have to look, and I’m just not interested in those genres. Such a shame, Claiming the Courtesan could have been something special, but it was too bogged down in psychological analysis and not enough substance. 1 1/2 stars rounded up to 2

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jane Stewart

    This was not well done. I did not enjoy it. Characters started out interesting, but conflicts and dialogue were lacking. STORY BRIEF: Wealthy duke has a mistress for a year, is madly in love with her, and asks her to marry him. She says no and then disappears. Their one-year contract had ended, and she was finally financially independent. She sneaks away to live a quiet life in the country under a different name. He is filled with obsession and anger. He finds her, kidnaps her, and has sex with he This was not well done. I did not enjoy it. Characters started out interesting, but conflicts and dialogue were lacking. STORY BRIEF: Wealthy duke has a mistress for a year, is madly in love with her, and asks her to marry him. She says no and then disappears. Their one-year contract had ended, and she was finally financially independent. She sneaks away to live a quiet life in the country under a different name. He is filled with obsession and anger. He finds her, kidnaps her, and has sex with her against her will (forced seduction/rape) more than once – which she enjoys even though she doesn’t want to. REVIEWER’S OPINION: One of the main threads is the heroine having two personalities. She is strong, self-confident, and enticing as Soraya, the mistress. But she becomes the shy virginal personality when she is Verity, her birth name. As Verity she has different strengths and shows anger and distain. As she realizes she loves him, her two personalities merge. This concept was probably the most unique part of the story, but it wasn’t done in an entertaining way. He treats her bad for a while, which also was not done in an entertaining way. There was no interesting dialogue. Justin is the tortured soul, having nightmares due to something terrible in his childhood. When his past secret was revealed, it didn’t fit. The author builds up this mystery and then has nothing to fill it with. CAUTION SPOILERS: In order to describe my major problem with the book, I have to describe the major plot crisis and resolution below. Some readers may not be bothered by what bothered me, but the only way to know that is to give away the following spoiler. So please do not read this if you want the ending to be a surprise. She doesn’t want to love him because “it will destroy her” whatever that means. Later, she realizes she does love him, and they have a wonderful loving relationship for a while. Then she decides “she must leave him for his own good. He will suffer public scorn if he marries his mistress. He needs to find a respectable woman to bear his children.” So she tells him she must leave, but she won’t tell him why. Then we listen to her lengthy ponderings as she sees her long, lonely, unhappy life ahead. We hear his repeated sad ponderings about his long, barren years ahead without her. I was angry when I read this – the “big misunderstanding” based on concepts so overused in romance novels. Give me something new or different, not this “I’m leaving you for your own good, but I’m not going to tell you why.” Of course, later she changes her mind and agrees to marry him. But she had been saying no throughout the entire book. I saw no reason for her to change her mind, other than for the mandatory happy ending. This was empty for me. DATA: Story length: 375 pages. Swearing language: moderate, including religious swear words. Sexual language: moderate. Number of sex scenes: 7. Approximate number of sex scene pages: 33. Setting: 1825 England and Scotland. Copyright: 2007. Genre: historical romance.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Didi

    I see a pattern here: Kidnapping romance=Me getting sucked in every time! This was a very sweet and poignant tale of obsessive love. Not in a bad way though. Justin Kinmurrie is the Duke of Kylemore and he is in lust with his mistress The famous courtesan Soraya. After throwing a out-of-left-field proposal to her, she flees. But not because of the proposal. See, Soraya, real name Verity Ashton, is done with being a courtesan. She has amassed enough money to set herself free and take care of her fa I see a pattern here: Kidnapping romance=Me getting sucked in every time! This was a very sweet and poignant tale of obsessive love. Not in a bad way though. Justin Kinmurrie is the Duke of Kylemore and he is in lust with his mistress The famous courtesan Soraya. After throwing a out-of-left-field proposal to her, she flees. But not because of the proposal. See, Soraya, real name Verity Ashton, is done with being a courtesan. She has amassed enough money to set herself free and take care of her family. But her plans don't go as she hopes. The Duke has plans of his own, and with a heavy betrayal weighing him down, steals Soraya and escapes to The Scottish Highlands where he tries to revive their voracious relationship. I loved Justin! He was so beleivable as a Dike scorned by the woman he worships. Watching him go through the phases of shock, anger, betrayal, vengeance, regret, remorse and love was exhilirating as well as saddening. He is a complex man with an even more complex history characterized by abuse and hurt. Seeing him volley between his cold Duke persona and his other broken, traumatized one was incredible. I loved him. Verity is so much like him. She is trying to escape herself and what she has become but is unable to combine both aspects of her personality--Soraya the detached but beautiful courtesan and Verity, the naive, sensitive woman. Watching her struggle with the duality was refreshing and realistic. And the story! It wasn't just a I kidnap woman, hit over her head, and she love me type. It was beleivable and honest. A fantastic portrayal of two people essentially going through the same things but too stubborn to confess to them. And the secondary characters were great as well. From Justin's cold and bitchy Duchess of a mother to Verity's loyal to death brother. Lots of others that just added to the story but didn't necessarily play critical parts. And did I mention how I love the kidnapping?! Don't ask, because I've stopped. Captor tales will always hold a special place in my heart! Great story, fab characters, wonderful story!!

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