Sophie Dupont assists her father in his studio, keeping her own artwork out of sight. In private, she paints the picturesque north Devon coast, popular with artists–including handsome Wesley Overtree, who seems more interested in Sophie than the landscape.
Captain Stephen Overtree is accustomed to taking on his brother Wesley’s responsibilities. Near the end of his leave, he is sent to find his brother and bring him home. Upon reaching Devonshire, however, Stephen is stunned to learn Wesley has sailed for Italy and left his host’s daughter in serious trouble.
Stephen feels duty-bound to act, and strangely protective of the young lady, who somehow seems familiar. Wanting to make some recompense for his own past failings as well as his brother’s, Stephen proposes to Miss Dupont. He does not offer love, but marriage “in name only” to save her from scandal. If he dies in battle, as he fears, she will at least be a respectable widow.
Desperate for a way to escape her predicament, Sophie finds herself torn between her first love and this brooding man she barely knows. Dare she wait for Wesley to return? Or should she elope with the captain and pray she doesn’t come to regret it?
Read on for an excerpt from The Painter’s Daughter and for my thoughts on the book.
Julie Klassen’s new Regency era romance features a love triangle, violence, and a cover up. Sophie is left in a scandalous predicament when her amorous suitor sets sail for Europe. The note he wrote her implies that she’s been nothing more than an enjoyable interlude. There is nothing to indicate he will return to her. His younger brother provides a solution. Marriage to him will provide security and an escape from her obnoxious stepmother, and also means the child won’t be tarnished by a mother’s reputation. It would all be so simple but for the brother’s return, Napoleon making a last grab to regain his power, and their own growing feelings for one another.
You usually know how the plot will go in a romance. Girl and boy meet, fall in love, there’s some trouble, and then they get together and probably get married. Here we have girl and boy meet, fall in love, boy acts impetuously and leaves, boy’s brother does the honorable thing and marries her, there’s trouble, boy’s brother must leave, boy returns, there’s more trouble, and… I won’t spoil the finish but there is a very dramatic cliff-hanging scene towards the end. The characters are varied: there’s the weasel who comes good, the class conscious mother, the neighbor girl you’re never quite sure about, the affable grandfather, and the woman wanting to make up for her own past.
In the middle of everything, there’s war. Napoleon has escaped from exile and is back in France. England’s army must do battle with him again and that means the new husband must leave the bride for whom he’s started to have feelings. Readers will follow him and experience the war through his eyes. I found it interesting that Julie Klassen chose not to write about the Battle of Waterloo but about Quatre Bras, the lesser known engagement that immediately preceded it. While I’m not an expert at military campaigns of the era I was impressed with the detail she included regarding the events and tactics used by both sides. It is possible that the inclusion of these scenes – and also those of fights between the brothers – will put off some readers. This particular reader, however, enjoyed the inclusion and felt it added to the understanding of later scenes involving the family waiting for news at home.
Thank you to Bethany House for my complimentary electronic advance copy of The Painter’s Daughter, which I received in exchange for my honest review.
Have you read The Painter’s Daughter? Do you plan to read it? Let me know your thoughts.
Publisher: Bethany House (a division of Baker Publishing)
Publication Date: 01 December 2015
Page Count: 464