Book Review

The Captive by Grace Burrowes


Title: The Captive
Author: Grace Burrowes
Publication Info: Sourcebooks Casablanca July 1, 2014
ISBN: 978-1402278785
Genre: Historical: European

Book The Captive I’ve read a few things by Grace Burrows- The Duke’s Obsession books, for example – and I liked them and all.  I thought that Burrowes' great weakness was characters not worrying overmuch about period social mores (The heir to a dukedom marrying his housekeeper, for example) but I love how she draws characters.  This is no exception- the plot is, well, it's there, but the characters are what kept me up late to keep reading.

The hero is Christian, Duke of Mercia, who was in France during the Napoleonic Wars and was captured by the French.  He was held and tortured for nearly a year, and released once the war was over.  He’s having some re-entry issues, not the least of which was that his wife and infant son died while he was held.

The heroine is Gillian, a countess and new widow.  She was also Christian’s wife’s cousin, and comes into Christian’s orbit when she’s the only person who’s concerned about his 8-year-old daughter, Lucy.  The kid needs parenting, and Christian needs someone to help manage his life as he figures out what his life IS.   So he invites her to move in with him (with nods to the fact that she’s a respectable widow, and also family, so her reputation wouldn’t be at risk) and take over dealing with his correspondence and blocking social invitations.

His torture was personal enough that he can’t bear the thought of a man helping him dress, and shaving himself with a razor is too much.  His left hand was injured, and he’s left-handed, so he can’t write or do a lot of things, and Gillian starts just doing those things without making a deal out of it, or even really asking.  This is exactly what he needs- someone to help without making him ask.  This wouldn’t work for a lot of people, because it does require a sense of mind-reading in a way, but it works for them.

Of course, the reason it’s possible is due to Gillian’s horrid marriage and the survival skills one develops when living with an abusive asshole.  She’s hyper aware of what he’s doing, and she channels that into being able to help him without making a THING out of things.  He wants to eat an orange, but can’t peel it because his hands won’t work?  She peels and shares a couple of oranges.  She’s the one who will tell him, “Your Grace, your hair looks like shit and you can’t go out with your cravat looking like THAT.”

Sebastian and Gillian both have physical and emotional scars from their respective traumas, and there’s a really interesting scene where there’s a carriage accident, and Gillian just takes the whole thing without any show of concern.  There’s an implication that people have noticed her constant lack of ruffled feathers in the past, but this isn’t really followed up on.  (I mean, there was an inquest as to whether she killed her husband, but that’s wrapped up by chapter 2.)

My only real problem with this book was the rushed ending, which came across as just way too tidy.  Unsuspected actual bad guy!  The torturer has ~reasons~ for doing what he did!  Mute Plot Moppet find her voice! (Okay, but there are also adorable doggies and I am a sucker for adorable doggies.)

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Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Virginia E says:

    Unexpected Actual Bad Guy? I’ve read this one a few times. Every time the character in question appears in the story, said individual makes it quite plain that certain people should be nice cooperative victims instead of surviving to inconvenience him. (I’m trying not to provide spoilers here.)

    If you skim, the clues are missable. However, she didn’t cheat and a careful read will show that the clues were there all along.

  2. 2
    Elyse says:

    I just bought this and I’m really excited for it. It sounds like all my catnips

  3. 3
    Moriah says:

    I thought the the actual bad guy had plenty of clues as to his identity before it was revealed.  I really enjoyed this book.

  4. 4
    Sarita says:

    I really appreciate that there are reasons and dark implications behind the heroine’s ‘mind-reading’ besides ‘she’s just that perfect! and luuurve!’

  5. 5
    LauraL says:

    Started reading The Captive last night and stayed up a little too late. Lots of catnip for me, too. When Christian started thinking of Gilly as “his” countess, squeee!

    Have to admit I haven’t read a Grace Burrowes book in a while, so the TBR file on ye olde Kindle may be getting some additions today.

  6. 6

    I thought that Burrowes’ great weakness was characters not worrying overmuch about period social mores (The heir to a dukedom marrying his housekeeper, for example) but I love how she draws characters.

    Wow. Just… wow.

    Will somebody tell me that, even though such a sentence makes me want to never read a Grace Burrowes book, that I would be making a huge mistake to let such issues stand in my way?

    Or, the reverse, that if that kind of weakness really bother me, I’m unlikely to enjoy her books and should feel free to dodge the bullet?

    Because… wow.

  7. 7
    redheadedgirl says:


    I find her books really compelling, and I’ve enjoyed everyone one of her books that I’ve read, but certainly in the first series I did need to pause every once in a while and go “…no.” 

    I did not do that very much with this book.

  8. 8
    LSUReader says:

    Grace Burrowes always delivers a beautifully written book with compelling characters. She is among my favorite historical romance authors. Do I love all of her books? Nope. But there are enough real winners out there that I’d feel cheated had I neglected her work.

    I enjoyed The Captive very much. I rated it a B+.

  9. 9
    Teev says:

    Yeah, I too thought the villain was broadcast pretty clearly throughout the book (to the point where I was muttering “do not trust that person, that person is EVIL” every time the character showed up. Not sure if this is a spoiler but WARNING just in case: The nudges at redemption for the torturer (who I guess is the hero of the next book!) were a little harder to take, but if anyone can pull this off it is Grace Burrowes, who yes, Pooks, writes her characters so well and has such a lovely style that it is possible (for me, anyway) to get past the anachronisms and plot inconsistencies. In a world where all the members of the English aristocracy are exceedingly good looking anything can happen, yes?  The housekeepers always turn out to be ladies in hiding anyway.  One thing I did think was off was that the Duke had not been forced to learn to write with his right hand in school, which I believe was a pretty common practice until recently.  My aunt was left handed and was made to write with her right hand, this was in Germany 60 years ago.

    I read the whole book the day I got it, it was that compelling, and even though it is a romance and therefore HEA is guaranteed I was very worried about the characters (hence the constant muttering).

  10. 10
    Shannon says:

    Like others, I wasn’t disturbed that much by several anachronisms.  I was able to stop and start this book because of life.  I figured there were multiple villains, the obvious and the not so obvious.  The story did get wrapped up quickly in a single extended scene, but given the place and setting, it all made sense that things would get revealed with most of the actors on the stage.  I kind of reminded me of several operas where two arias resolve the whole story.

    As for the plot moppet, that didn’t bother me either.

  11. 11
    Ducky says:

    I like Grace Burrowes romances and I find her heroines and heroes more well drawn and “real” than in most historical romances. I enjoyed “The Captive” and I guessed who the real bad guy was because there were quite a few clues. I just read at Burrowes website that one of the torturers is the hero of the next book “The Traitor” – which should be interesting.

    I read the one where the Duke marries his housekeeper too and it wasn’t as unrealistic as it sounds because circumstances with the heroine were not what they seemed. I am being vague because I don’t want to spoil the story.

  12. 12
    tealadytoo says:

    I like the way she writes, but the anachronisms do bother me.  So GB is a middle of the pack writer for me.  (Worth reading on sale or if somebody gives me a used copy . . . )

    I haven’t read this one, but is their a halfway reasonable excuse given why a ducal heir with a family would ever have been SERVING in the military in the first place, especially in wartime?

  13. 13
    SB Sarah says:


    Will somebody tell me that, even though such a sentence makes me want to never read a Grace Burrowes book, that I would be making a huge mistake to let such issues stand in my way?

    I’ve said before many times that in terms of historical accuracy, I am not very picky. I don’t care, to quote myself, if the duke drives his Porsche to Almack’s, as long as everyone talks like a human being and not a plot point once he gets there. But the Grace Burrowes books are too jarring for me in terms of accuracy and dialogue – at least, the ones I’ve tried have been. Not only do I know there’s no way “X” in the plot would happen, but sometimes the manners in which the characters talk, it sounds like contemporary people are leaking through the dialogue.

    So it’s not just you. I wish these books worked for me because hellooooooo catnip, but alas, they don’t.

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