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Sweet Awakening (Topaz Historical Romances) Mass Market Paperback – 31 Aug 1995

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Soon after lovely Lady Clare Dysart met Lord Justin Rainsborough, the darkly handsome aristocrat won Clare's heart and hand. He dazzled her with his charm and intoxicated her with his passion. Only when she was bound to him in wedlock did she discover his violent side.

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Amazon.com: 5 reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
An astonishing, heartrending read - 10 stars! 12 Jun. 2003
By Susan Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Well, Marjorie Farrell has done it again for me. I have been overwhelmed by this book and hope anyone reading this review will not hesitate to obtain a copy and read it. This is a story about a battered wife and the personal growth of those closest to her following the incredible crescendo of the heroine killing her husband.
Lady Clare Dysart, a late in life child, grows up in the summertime company of twins Giles, Viscount Whitton and his twin sister Lady Sabrina Whitton. Over time, Giles falls deeply in love with Clare but hesitates to make an official proposal of marriage until she has enjoyed an unfettered first season. This allows her the opportunity to fall in love with Justin, Earl of Rainsborough. Sadly, Justin is a man who has two faces, two personalities. One is sensual, loving and giving but the other is crazed by alcohol and turns vicious, violent and jealous. He and Clare marry and, at first, their marriage is a flurry of passion and sexual satisfaction. However, his mental flaw soon brings out the insane jealousy that leads him to abusing Clare.
The author has portrayed the breakdown of the marriage of an insane man and his battered wife with incredible honesty. You flinch as you read it but are gratified at her amazing honesty portraying this sad, sad situation.
Eventually, Justin threatens to kill his wife in a jealous, irrational rage, and she finds the strength to fight him off and, in so doing, kills him. A trial ensues which deals (thank goodness !!!! ) with the issue of violence in marriage honestly within the historical context. Wives were chattel; a man could "chastise" his wife in any way he wished in those days and so the various characters in the story view the situation with historically contemporaneous rather than modern attitudes. Nonetheless, the message about the utter horror and degredation wife beating causes was well portrayed and Clare is found to have killed her husband in self-defence.
Now Giles is able to marry her and live happily ever after with the woman he has always adored. WRONG! Rather than end the novel here, Marjorie Farrell brings in a sub-plot which allows Sabrina to eventually secure the love of barrister Andrew More who had defended Clare in the coroner's court. The point of the sub-plot, however, was to deal honestly with the after effects of the trial, Clare's acceptance of herself for the woman she has become, and Giles's difficulties in admitting his own hurt and anger. She has grown and changed as a result of her disasterous marriage; he must accept her and love her on those terms - not in a gallant but misguided way based on who she was before the tragedy of her experiences.
I cannot praise this book highly enough. All of the characters, although very young, behave in an honest, open fashion. Serious issues are raised and the characters discuss them and deal with them in wholly believable ways. This book is a celebration of inner strength, loyalty, friendship and love whilst at the same time dealing with a highly emotive and awful issue: wife battering. The author is courageous enough to have written a book firmly set within its historical context without an overlay of unnecessary 21st century PC overtones. The message therefore is strong and clear but at the same time makes for an un-putdownable read. Although you sometimes feel the book is almost leisurely in its pace - something this author usually manages - it allows proper development of the plot and wholly credible character growth.
Please try to find a copy. If you enjoyed Mary Jo Putney's "The Rake" you will relish this novel. Ignore the tacky, tasteless and stupid cover. If you like your regency historicals strongly written with unforgettable characters acting out a thoroughly credible but satisfying storyline, find a copy - you won't be disappointed.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Reads like a traditional regency with added melodrama 10 Mar. 2008
By seton - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Sweet Awakening is a meticulous novel that covers a period of 11 or 12 years. It starts from when 13 year old Giles meets 10 year old Clare Dysart and goes thru their childhood friendship. Giles pretty much knows almost from the start that Clare is going to be the woman he loves and marries. Their lives seem pretty much set when Clare turns 18 and has a Season in London. Unfortunately, Clare attracts the attention of the far more dynamic Justin, an Earl who sweeps her off her feet. Clare chooses the darkly jealous Justin over the far less agressive Giles when they both propose on the same day.

Justin and Clare seem to have the perfect marriage so London is shocked when two years later, Clare kills Justin in self-defense. Details of Justin's increasing violence and history of spousal abuse is revealed during the murder trial.

Farrell seems to have done her research on battered women and she presents the signs in a clear, logical manner. It made for a riveting read.

My quibble (and I feel like a philistine for saying this considering the subject matter) is that I didn't feel much romance. I think Farrell did a good job of showing Clare becoming a stronger woman after what she had gone through so that she can meet Giles on a more equal level. But with Clare finally finding passion with Giles literally on the final page of the book (as almost an afterthought), there is no doubt in my mind that Clare would much rather have Justin back if he wasnt such a violent sicko. The point is reinforced by the fact that that is Justin on the cover of the novel with Clare, not the lighter haired Giles.

This book was Farrell's first historical after a bunch of Signet regencies. It reads like a double regency instead of a true historical to me -- it's kinda dry and I get the feeling that Farrell wasnt too happy doing the sexy bits. ;-) I remember loving her Miss Ware's Refusal and will probably stick to the rest of her Signet backlist if/when I read her in the future.
Very well done 7 May 2014
By darski - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This was a difficult read but very well done in developing the process of abuse over time. I did feel that the author sort of lost her way in trying to get back to the Regency genre (hence 4 starts) although I did appreciate how she made other characters face their own feelings over the issue.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Beatings of a woman and implications 1 Jun. 2014
By F. Shaughnessy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I hated this book so much that I have written a rare review. It is sad, mean, and mostly unhappy for all characters. Should be a physcho thriller...
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Cloud you add a negative star? 9 April 2014
By CJG - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
OK. The heroine was a wimp. I skipped most of the first half because I just couldn't take her lack of intelligence. Finally, she did something about 57% through the book. I stopped reading after that.

Clara was uninteresting as a character and Giles seemed like an idiot.

I read for enjoyment. This book was NOT enjoyable.
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