Portrait of a Scotsman
League of Extraordinary Women #3
By Evie Dunmore
Author’s website: eviedunmore.com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Daniele
London banking heiress Hattie Greenfield wanted “just” three things in life:
1. Acclaim as an artist.
2. A noble cause.
3. Marriage to a young lord who puts the gentle in gentleman.
Why then does this Oxford scholar find herself at the altar with the darkly attractive financier Lucian Blackstone, whose murky past and ruthless business practices strike fear in the hearts of Britain’s peerage? Trust Hattie to take an invigorating little adventure too far. Now she’s stuck with a churlish Scot who just might be the end of her ambitions….
When the daughter of his business rival all but falls into his lap, Lucian sees opportunity. As a self-made man, he has vast wealth but holds little power, and Hattie might be the key to finally setting long-harbored political plans in motion. Driven by an old revenge, he has no room for his new wife’s apprehensions or romantic notions, bewitching as he finds her.
But a sudden journey to Scotland paints everything in a different light. Hattie slowly sees the real Lucian and realizes she could win everything—as long as she is prepared to lose her heart.
Going toe-to-toe with a brooding Scotsman is rather bold for a respectable suffragist, but when he happens to be one’s unexpected husband, what else is an unwilling bride to do? (Goodreads)
Author Evie Dunmore continues her Victorian-era romances featuring disparate friends who are Oxford students and suffragists in this Beauty and the Beast-esque third installment. Portrait of a Scotsman features heiress Hattie and dubious business rival Lucian as their relationship blossoms from trick to true love…maybe.
I am not the biggest romance reader, but I really enjoy this Victorian series (they can be read as standalones). Each features great character development. The heroines are all unique and independent thinkers ahead of their time making them appealing to twenty-first century readers. I admit that Hattie has not been my favorite character in the prior two books. I found her flighty and without much substance. However, here readers really get to know her, her dreams, and her insecurities. I appreciate that she has dyslexia and that Dunmore highlights her strengths, especially her artist’s eye and ability to think outside the box. Granted, she is still a spoiled pretty face, but she does mature as the story moves along, particularly after the newlyweds arrive in Scotland.
Lucian is definitely rough around the edges, both physically and in manners, and driven by revenge and ruination. He is obviously intelligent and a rebel; he just does not fit in anywhere. His bastard birth and “new money” separate him from both the unaccepting aristocratic society and his roots. He initially seems ruthless, but as readers get to know him, his motivations are revealed to be not so dastardly. Plus, he is so appealing if you are into “bad guys”.
There are many intimate scenes within these pages (they are on their honeymoon after all), and they are spicy and somewhat graphic…so proceed with caution if you prefer chaste, sweet “behind closed doors” romances. Dunmore writes these scenes with a deft hand, and they are sexy and emotionally charged without reverting to raunch.
So, if I enjoyed Portrait of a Scotsman, why do I give it only three stars (which in my rating system is not a bad rating and means I liked it)? The book is a little bumpy as it gets going, but then it is splendid…until the last three chapters or so. Why did Dunmore choose to wait until the end of the book to introduce such a pivotal plot point? Who knows, but it made for an abrupt ending that felt rushed and unfinished. This aside Hattie and Lucian’s romance is fun and quite gratifying. Recommended for any fan of historical romances who like feisty characters and steamy, charged relations.