Review & Interview: Joanna Chambers – Enlightenment 03 – Enlightened

First a review, then scroll down for an interview with the author…

Enlightened (Enlightenment 03) Joanna Chambers

Genre: MM Romance, Historical

Stars: 5


Joanna Chambers - Enlightened 

Five months ago, David Lauriston was badly hurt helping his friend Elizabeth escape her violent husband. Since then, David has been living with his lover, Lord Murdo Balfour, while he recuperates.
Despite the pain of his injuries, David’s time with Murdo has been the happiest of his life. The only things that trouble him are Murdo’s occasional bouts of preoccupation, and the fact that one day soon, David will have to return to his legal practice in Edinburgh.
That day comes too soon when David’s friend and mentor takes to his deathbed, and David finds himself agreeing to take on a private mission in London. Murdo is at his side in the journey, but a shocking revelation by Murdo’s ruthless father leaves David questioning everything they’ve shared.
As tensions mount and the stakes grow higher, David and Murdo are forced to ask themselves how far they’re prepared to go—and how much they’re prepared to give up— to stay together. And whether there’s any chance of lasting happiness for men like them.


I have to say that I approached this with trepidation. The first two installments of this trilogy are in my top ten reads of the last few years, and I wondered if the conclusion of David and Murdo’s story would be satisfying. Oh me of little faith. Enlightened is a fantastic read.

The storylines of both previous books are pulled together to form a coherent, loving and totally gratifying ending. If you’re reading this and haven’t read the first two books – then read them now! If you have read Enlightened then you will know how good it is, the blurb and all the other 5 star reviews will tell you enough of the plot. Suffice it to say that via the impending death of David’s mentor, Chalmers; promises made to him plus the appearance of Murdo’s father make the couple question their relationship- how and even if it will continue.

I am sure that there was a lot of research that went into ensuring that the Regency feel of this novel was accurate, the language the characters use, the detailing of clothing, food and all the little nuances reinforce it. There are definitive elements in some of the formality of the writing that remind me of Georgette Heyer.

The story line of the continuing dramatic situation of Elizabeth (Chalmers absconded daughter) provides tension and drama, and Chambers’ writing is pitch perfect, there isn’t a wasted line or an overblown cliché in sight, every word is used thoughtfully and with effect.

While this could be enough for most authors, the development of the characters of David and Murdo – individually and as a couple, is told so well. I was once told that only the strong know when to bend, but it is also true that the strong know when to stand firm. David – who started so sure and righteous in his beliefs bends, and Murdo, the man of pleasure and compromise finds his moral core; and this is the element of the book that really elevated it for me.

I cannot recommend this series enough, so please if you haven’t already, please read it.


Publisher and Original Publication Date: Samhain Publishing, May 6, 2014
Purchase URL:
Formats Available: epub, mobi, pdf
Length: 230 pages
Reviewed by: Karen
Author’s Website:


Karen’s Interview with Joanna Chambers


Karen: You live in Scotland – are there any locations that inspired you when writing the Enlightenment trilogy, and did you use then in any of the books ?

Joanna: Yes – lots. Edinburgh is my native city and most of the trilogy is set here so I’m familiar with every place I mention: Castlehill, Parliament House, the Cowgate, Salisbury Crags etc. The main challenge was trying to not impose my ‘modern’ version of Edinburgh so I spent time looking at maps, paintings, engravings etc. of the early nineteenth century. Here for example, you can compare a modern day view from Calton Hill (which David climbs up in book 3) and the same view in 1822 (during the King’s visit, which is the subject of book 2).

Joanna Chambers Interview picJoanna Chambers Interview pic2








Karen: Before Enlightenment your previous two books were also historical (although m/f) are you planning do write more historicals?

Joanna: I am. I’m currently writing ahistorical short story/novella for a charity anthologywith some other amazing M/M authors (being organised by the amazing Susan Lee). After that, I’m branching out a bit with a paranormal book, then a contemporary book (UK set) – both M/M. After that, who knows? I go completely with personal inclination and don’t worry at all about market trends since I figure that way, madness lies.


Karen: How much research do you do to ensure historical accuracy?

Joanna: Um – a fair bit, I suppose. Before embarking on the Enlightenment trilogy, I read quite widely into Edinburgh’s history, well-known figures and events of the 1820s (notably the Scottish Radical War and King George IV’s visit to Scotland in 1822) and quite a bit about the Scottish Enlightenment and the socio-political situation from the late 18th to mid 19th century. Most of that reading was more about immersing myself in the general time/ place than the specific events in the books, but one book, John Prebble’s The King’s Jaunt,ended up getting pretty dog-eared and scribbled on while I was writing book 2… There’s also the general fact checking that you end up doing as go along when you’re writing historical—you’re always breaking off to google stuff like, how long it takes to travel from one place to another by carriage or whether particular objects or phrases were around in the time you’re writing about etc. And I spent a lot of time pouring over maps. The National Library of Scotland has some great ones available online, like this one:

Joanna Chambers Interview pic3

Karen: You have said that writing the final book in a trilogy was challenging, do you think that you will write another series?

Joanna: I am writing another series! The paranormal I’m working on now is planned to be three books, however, that’ll be different since in that series each book will have different MCs and a separate romance. The pressure with Enlightenment came from having to conclude a three book romance arc in a way that would satisfy readers. I felt I needed to make the conclusion doubly—triply!—satisfying for that reason. Also, a vocal minority of readers were pretty up front about not being happy having to wait for book 3 for a conclusion.


Karen: Both David and Murdo have a love of the countryside, is this something that you share?

 Joanna: Yes, though somewhat reluctantly, lol! My husband is crazy about the countryside and I’ve been getting dragged on walks and outdoorsy stuff by him for the last 20 years. I’ll never feel as comfortable in the countryside as he does –I can get a bit whiney when I’m tired and, really, I prefer the getting to the pub part of any walk we go on! – but yes, I can appreciate a good view.


Karen: When you are in the pub, what do you drink ?

Joanna: If I’ve been on a walk in the countryside, real ale. Something like Taylor’s Landlord. High heels call for spirits though.


Karen: Do you use music when you write, if so what do you like?

Joanna: Yes, I love music, but sometimes it can be distracting if it’s out of step with what I’m writing. For that reason, I listened to a lot of classical writing this: Bach, Grieg, Ravel, Vaughn Williams. And sometimes timeless folky stuff like Sam Lee and Olof Arnalds. Oh, and John Grant when writing sex scenes – lush, romantic, gorgeous.


Karen: Is there a specific John Grant song and sex scene that comes to mind?

Joanna: It’s Easier and the first love scene in book 3 when David gets home from his walk with a bad leg. Although that’s a break up song really, and much of it’s not apposite, all the stuff about believing the person he’s singing to will be “leaving me one day” and the stuff about  “feeling invincible in your arms” – and of course the sound of the music – was, for me very in line with the tone of the book.


Karen: How long did the Enlightenment trilogy take to write, and when you started it did you know what would happen in the end, or did it grow organically ?

Joanna: It took about two years to finish it, though I did a few other things over that time frame as well. The story was completely planned out from an early stage. I planned book 1, then after I’d written a third of it, and knew it would fly, I stopped and planned out books 2 and 3 completely. Of course, there are always things that take you off-piste a bit—I had no idea Captain Sinclair was going to be character until I started writing the first scene he appeared in, and there’s a certain character who pops up very near the end of book 3 who wasn’t part of the plan at all—it was very much a spontaneous decision to include him, when a sudden opportunity presented itself.


Karen: Although the David and Murdo characters don’t wear kilts – is it an item of clothing that you approve of – and anyone in particular wearing it ?

Joanna: As an aesthetic proposition, absolutely! David Gandy wearing anything is always nice, but if we’re going with Scots, Kevin McKidd and Dougray Scott ain’t half bad. And John Barrowman.


Publisher and Original Publication Date: Samhain Publishing, May 6, 2014
Purchase URL:


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