Review: Breathless by Celeste Bradley and Susan Donovan

Reviewed by Sara

In Breathless, Celeste Bradley and Susan Donovan have taken two stories and woven them together into an epic love story that crosses centuries and continents.

The historical portion of the book centers on The Swan, London’s premiere courtesan. The Swan has worked her way up from the bowels of Newgate Prison to the height of the London ton. She is independently wealthy, dictates fashion, and can have any man she wants. A man, however, is how she finds herself shipwrecked with amnesia on the coast of Catalonia. Here, she is taken in by The Artist, an immensely private, British deserter of the Napoleonic Wars. As The Swan finds herself in The Artist’s humble, coastal cottage, as well as on The Artist’s canvas she also finds the greatest love of her life.

In the Contemporary portion of Breathless, we meet Brenna Anderson, an Art History professor who, like many in the art community, is obsessed with a series of painting of a woman known as The Siren. When she discovers that The Siren may in fact be The Swan, a courtesan of renown who disappeared out of history she believes she may have the key to a centuries old mystery. However, to prove her theory correct she’ll have to except the help of her rival, Fitch Wilder, a treasure hunter with no formal training who seems to always be two steps ahead of her professionally. Brenna knows men like Fitch and refuses to be swayed by his charm, but the closer they get to uncovering the mystery of The Siren, the harder it is for her to deny her feelings for the handsome adventurer.

I really enjoyed Breathless. As someone who enjoys both Historical Romance and Contemporary Romance, this novel included all the elements I love about the two sub genres and put them together in one book. The switching from Historical to Contemporary was done flawlessly and the conclusion of the book perfectly brought the two elements together without being trite.

I particularly enjoyed the journey the authors took both of the female main characters on. The Swan went from cynical and jaded, lead by her desire to amass more and more (material goods, wealth, experiences, influence) to living humbly but happily, in love and with family. In the contemporary world, Brenna went from being prickly and judgmental to someone who could laugh at herself and take pleasure in the moment. Her journey with Fitch to discover the identity of The Siren also meant she had to deal with her own cynicism about men and love. Watching her grow into a kinder, less uptight character who could allow herself to be loved and love in return, was incredibly rewarding.

This is the second book by authors Celeste Bradley and Susan Donovan in this series. Their first book, The Courtesan’s Guide to Getting Your Man, was released in 2011 and was published again in 2012 with a new title, Unbound. While it’s not entirely necessary to read Unbound before reading Breathless, there are a lot of references to events and characters that occurred in the first book. Personally, I  found it a bit frustrating to have to remember events and characters from a book I read seven years ago. After the first couple of chapters this is no longer a real problem, but it definitely hampered my enjoyment of the first part of Breathless.

If you’re a fan of Contemporary Romance and Historical Romance and enjoy your books with adventure, character growth and, of course, a fantastic romance, then this is definitely a book you should consider.

Rating: B+

*ARC received from publisher for honest review

Click to purchase: Amazon

Breathless
by Celeste Bradley & Susan Donovan
Release Date: June 12, 2018
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

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