A PICTURE SAYS A THOUSAND WORDS…
The ton is buzzing about The Beautiful One, a striking figure in a scandalous book of nude sketches. Only two men know the true identity of The Beautiful One, and they are scouring the countryside, determined to find her.
BUT NOT THE MOST IMPORTANT ONES…
The unlikely center of the scandal, Anna Black is forced to flee home as disaster looms. Her tomboy’s heart and impertinent tongue serve her well when she meets the most brooding viscount ever to darken a drawing room. Will Halifax, Viscount Grandville, has his reasons for pushing people away, and when his tempestuous teenaged ward arrives on his doorstep, he presses Anna to take on her care. As Anna begins to melt the Viscount’s frozen heart, she knows the more she loves, the more she has to lose. For although Will cares nothing for what makes Society titter, he has yet to see The Beautiful One.
Publisher and Release Date: Sourcebooks Casablanca, June 2, 2015
RHR Classifications: Historical Romance
Time and Setting: Regency England
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 4 Stars
Review by Natalie
Anna Black is tired of running and hiding. Months after the death of her father an influential member of the ton approaches her with a book of nude sketches… sketches of Anna. She is shocked to realize her father’s assistant had spied on her and created the sketches. She tries to reason with the aristocrat, but he wants Anna to pose for him in the nude as Aphrodite and be revealed to the ton as the beautiful woman in the book. Doing such a thing will ruin her, so she leaves her country home and has been on the run ever since, trying to make her way north to her aunt’s house where she hopes to find solitude and safety. She has been working under a false name as a seamstress at a girls’ school in the hopes of securing enough money to finish her journey, when one of the school’s wards is expelled. Anna finds herself acting as chaperone, accompanying Lizzie to the home of her uncle where she will hand the girl over to her guardian.
Will, Lord Grandville, lost all that was dear to him when his wife died in an accident. He has spent the last year shut up in his estate mourning his former life. The last thing he wants to find on his doorstep is his sixteen year-old ward. To add insult to injury the soaking wet, frustrating school chaperone has insisted that Lizzie cannot return to the school – they simply will not take her back. Frustrated, angry and confused by the presence of this infuriating woman, Will first propositions her and then regains his composure and implores her to stay on as a governess for his niece until he can find a new school for her.
Anna is stunned at the reception both Lizzie and herself have received from her uncle and feels terrible for the young girl. She remembers what it was like to feel lonely and invaluable. Even though she wants to continue running, she decides to stay and make sure that Lizzie is well looked after, at least until her uncle makes other arrangements.
The Beautiful One is a strong romance novel from a new-to-me author. I enjoyed the characters of Anna and Will and both their back stories, but even more surprisingly I also enjoyed the supporting characters. Instead of writing Lizzie as your typical historical-romance-ward, a vain, pampered, and ridiculous sixteen year old, Ms Greenwood gives the character a chance to break the mold. Lizzie has been through a great deal of heart-break in the last few years and her uncle is the only person she has left in the world. Like any sixteen year old, she comes up with some cringe-worthy plans to try and make things go her way, but most importantly she is a character who is more than just a plot device and she grows and learns throughout the novel. The same can be said for Will’s step-mother. Instead of writing an evil-step mother role for Anna to contend with, the author gives us Ginger, a woman who has made mistakes with her step-sons but would like the chance to make amends.
Will and Anna’s storyline moves very fast with Will falling, not exactly in love, but maybe ‘in-lust’ with the tomboyish, independent Anna almost immediately and with Anna breaking her role as governess very quickly and finding herself acting like she is on equal footing with Lord Grandville early on. I enjoyed the characters and the depth of feelings Ms Greenwood was able to write for them and felt that the author left you wanting more from this little world she has created. I look forward to the next book in the Scandalous Sisters series.