American artist Jeremy Keane refuses to return home and take over his father’s business. He’d much rather sample bevvies of beauties abroad, in search of a model for the provocative masterpiece he’s driven to paint. When he meets Lady Yvette Barlow at a London wedding, he realizes she’s perfect for his work—and determines to capture the young heiress’s defiant spirit and breathtaking sensuality on canvas.
No stranger to scandal, Yvette agrees to be Keane’s subject—in exchange for his help gaining entry to the city’s brothels he knows intimately, so she can track a missing woman and solve a family mystery. But when their practical partnership leads to lessons in the art of sinning, can they find a bold and lasting love?
Publisher and Release Date: Pocket Books, July 2015
Time and Setting: London 1829
Heat Level: 2
Genre: Historical Romance
Reviewer Rating: 3.5 stars
Review by Wendy
The opening chapter of this novel captured me immediately – I liked the unusual premise and the story promised to be an interesting one. Having never read a Sabrina Jeffries novel before I was quite excited to have found another author I thought I could look forward to reading more of.
When Jeremy Keane, American artist of some repute, spots Lady Yvette Barlow at a family wedding, he is captivated by her unusual, statuesque beauty. She is the woman he has been searching for, the perfect model for a particularly controversial painting he wishes to paint. But first Jeremy must gain the approval of her brother and this is no mean feat as he is Edwin Barlow, the Earl of Blakeborough and he takes his brotherly duties VERY seriously.
A deal is eventually struck, one openly with Edward’s approval, but another privately with Yvette herself. Jeremy has long since grown tired of painting the portraits of simpering misses, his tastes now running more to the outrageous, and he has won acclaim and notoriety through his unusual ‘true to life depictions’ . However, to allay Edward’s suspicions he must paint the type of portrait he abhors if he is to be able to stay and paint his ‘Juno’ – the very epitome of the majestic Roman goddess – in the manner he wishes. This last is to be done in the dead of night without Edwin’s knowledge.
Yvette herself is no pushover and has a very preposterous proposition of her own; if Jeremy wishes for her to pose secretly for his painting, she wants something in return. It is rumoured that Jeremy is a regular visitor to the City’s brothels, he must take her, without her brother’s knowledge, to search for a woman Yvette must speak with. Reluctantly he agrees as he MUST paint this woman he has been searching for, for so long. It goes against the grain, however, as at heart he is a gentleman, and does not like deceiving the Earl.
Jeremy and Yvette are immediately attracted to each other and this is well done. I had a vision, as described, of Yvette as a tall, beautiful, majestic woman. She has quite low self esteem, which seems at odds with her rather sharp tongue and strong opinions but still I liked her. Jeremy is absolutely gorgeous, very tall (something which immediately appeals to Yvette as she is tired of gentlemen’s eyes being on a level with her bosom when dancing!), also –
a golden haired Adonis with eyes as deep blue as the estate’s prize delphiniums.
He is quite a tortured soul with a heartbreaking secret in his past from which he is running, and this only adds to his appeal. Yvette too has ‘a past’, though not one which I thought too shocking but it does explain her lack of self-worth.
The slow build up of attraction and simmering sexual awareness is adequately achieved, though not in my opinion, spine-tinglingly so.
I liked the secondary character of Edwin, Earl of Blakeborough immensely; he is a little stuffy and correct but loving and honourable towards his sister, quietly and discreetly going about his duties as head of the family without expecting or wanting thanks. He quite put me in mind of Edward in Mary Balogh’s, The Secret Mistress. I hope he finds his true love later in the series – I may be tempted to read it.
On the downside, there is a very modern feel to the writing, the usual (unfortunate) smattering of Americanisms, and the incredibly repetitive use of two particular phrases. One reviewer on Goodreads counted eighteen instances of one and seventeen of the other; it’s really very noticable and I was taken out of the story each time one of them was uttered. I didn’t go to the trouble of adding them up myself, but obviously, I’m not the only reader frustrated by this. Apart from the foregoing it is an enjoyable story, the first in a new series and I’m really hoping that the put-upon-Edwin’s HEA is next. A solid 3.5 stars.