Author: Bronwyn Stuart
In Behind The Courtesan Bronwyn Stuart takes us back to the Ton, back to a time where women were property and the Duke controlled the wealth in his dukedom. A time that I am very glad to have missed, I certainly don’t think I could have survived the times.
The chaperones, the protectiveness, the being told where you can and can’t go and the men thinking they can buy, sell and own you.
Bronwyn takes us back to these times and shows us another side of life in the Ton, another side to the life of a courtesan.
Sophie Martin ran away from home in the middle of the night as a teenager, she left behind an older brother and a best friend whose heart she broke. She never told anyone why she left, she never said goodbye, she just disappeared one night and it wasn’t until much later that she sent word to her brother that she was alive. The letter went via her old friend Blake but there was not a word to him, he was just to be the messenger.
Fourteen years after her midnight escape she returns to the village of her childhood at the request of her brother, he wants her with them when his wife gives birth. If things were slightly different Sophie (now known as Sophia) would never have set foot back in that village, too much time has passed, too much has changed.
All anyone knows is that Sophie ran away to the big city and became a courtesan. She made special friendships in return for jewels, clothes, a roof and protection. It all looks very superficial and shallow to the boy who loved her and whose heart she broke when she left.
The relationships and the emotions are extremely tangled and no-one is more confused than our leads. An unresolved past that has lead to a present neither of them would ever have dreamed leaves them with a stack of regrets but also an awakening of the emotions that have lain dormant which means their mere presence in the same room is enough to get their pulse racing and their mouth working faster than their brain. This unresolved fire between them offers some wonderful opportunities for both hilarity and heartache – even from the readers point of view. At any turn you can’t be sure whether they are going to enflame or enrage one another and it’s good for quite a giggle.
As the story unfolds we get to know a lot more back story which gives an understanding of the sometimes irrational responses these two evoke in one another.
Stuart captures the time, the personalities and the area beautifully. She made me chuckle and she made me cry, definitely the signs of a good book. But I think the real clincher for me is that she took the oldest profession known to man and she humanised it. She took us beyond ‘the courtesan’, she took us to the places inside of Sophie that no-one ever got to see. Stuart drew Sophie vividly and detailed so that we could learn that there is more to the courtesan than meets the eye, she is still a woman very separate from her chosen vocation. I really appreciated that, not everyone could understand a decision to go into that line of work but sometimes there doesn’t seem to be a choice.
I really enjoyed this book and will be sure to keep my eye out for more by Brownyn Stuart. Historical has never really been for me but Bronwyn Stuart is changing this one ebook at a time.