An artist stumbles upon a naked duke and an unlikely love story begins in this captivating Victorian historical romance.
When Royal Academy painting student Lucy Coover trips over a naked man passed out in an East End alley, she does the decent thing. She covers him up and fetches help. Trouble is, she can’t banish his muscular form from her dreams as easily. She finds herself compelled to put every detail down on canvas. What she doesn’t know is that she’s painting the infamous Duke of Weston, and that her life will never be the same.
A second son, Anthony Philby thought he could flee his brutal family legacy and become his own man. Forced back to London by his brother’s death, he inherits a fortune… with strings attached. One scandal will sink his bid for independence. It’s in his best interest to burn Lucy Coover’s shocking painting and pretend he never met the bewitching young artist. Instead, he finds himself offering a devil’s bargain. He’ll save her aunt’s dressmaking shop from ruin, if she’ll seek out his missing sister, Effie.
As they work together, an unexpected passion ignites between them. But the hunt for Effie leads to unexpected danger, and soon they find themselves risking everything… for a love that might destroy them both.
I received an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
My Rating: 4.5 Stars
2021 has already been a year full of historical romance books for me. I love them, I read them often, and I’ve really been leaning into them this year and trying new authors. For the remainder of the year, this book and the characters Joanna Lowell created will stick with me. I guarantee it.
One of the many things that really stood out for me was the fact that there was a very real barrier to the main characters having a relationship. They were kept apart by something that felt much more tangible than pride or lack of communication. It really added to the tension of the plot as I could see no way out for them. Truly, there were points at which I could not for the life of me imagine a HEA for this book.
I also was really drawn to the presence of real life issues such as alcoholism and PTSD. These main characters have histories that have shaped them in ways that made them both tragic and relatable. Their story wasn’t easy and was continually complicated by outside factors in addition to the ghosts of their respective pasts.
There were parts that dragged a bit, as I wanted the characters to be in more scenes together and found myself flipping pages seeking more of their verbal sparring. That being said, I really loved the character self-reflection and development. While I loved seeing Anthony and Lucy interact (their tension was palpable), I did end up really enjoying their individual stories as people. Lucy was everything I look for in a female protagonist – strong and fully capable of being her own hero. She’s definitely a new favorite historical romance lead for me.
I hope that this series continues as there are definitely characters that I would like to see get their own happy endings. I also just really want to learn more about some characters in particular. Joanna, if you’re reading this, it is my polite way of begging for MORE KATE PLEASE. I would also like more Effie. And more Gwen. Just please write each of them books.