I was never a regency fan until recently, when I discovered the world of Pride and Prejudice and all things Austen. Fans of those classics, will also be fans of Julie Klassen’s writing.
But before we get into my review, let me share with you the synopsis of this book:
Sophie Dupont, daughter of a portrait painter, assists her father in his studio, keeping her own artwork out of sight. She often walks the cliffside path along the north Devon coast, popular with artists and poets. It’s where she met the handsome Wesley Overtree, the first man to tell her she’s beautiful.
Captain Stephen Overtree is accustomed to taking on his brother’s neglected duties. Home on leave, he’s sent to find Wesley. Knowing his brother rented a cottage from a fellow painter, he travels to Devonshire and meets Miss Dupont, the painter’s daughter. He’s startled to recognize her from a miniature portrait he carries with him–one of Wesley’s discarded works. But his happiness plummets when he realizes Wesley has left her with child and sailed away to Italy in search of a new muse.
Wanting to do something worthwhile with his life, Stephen proposes to Sophie. He does not offer love, or even a future together, but he can save her from scandal. If he dies in battle, as he believes he will, she’ll be a respectable widow with the protection of his family.
Desperate for a way to escape her predicament, Sophie agrees to marry a stranger and travel to his family’s estate. But at Overtree Hall, her problems are just beginning. Will she regret marrying Captain Overtree when a repentant Wesley returns? Or will she find herself torn between the father of her child and her growing affection for the husband she barely knows?
I mean, talk about drama, am I right? And if I’m being honest, dramatic turns in stories are my “guilty pleasure,” if you will.
This book may not be a “hate-to-love” romance, but there are a lot of characters you will “love to hate.” Honestly, I’ve never in my life despised a villain more. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book where the guy named Wesley wasn’t evil either, so that’s a little interesting factoid for you (Question, what names do you associate with “bad guys” in books? Wesley… Clive… Wickham… Chauvelin…).
I also enjoyed the slow building love story between Sophie and Stephen. Both were flawed characters, but showed something that their villainous counterparts did not: remorse, redemption, and a desire to change.
There were many plot points specifically that reminded me of Pride and Prejudice itself. Two brothers (or brother-like figures), one a rebel, and the other who has to take responsibility. A girl easily persuaded by men she probably shouldn’t trust. A young woman of humble means marrying into a wealthy family. And of course, the English countryside!
If regency era romance, high-stakes plots fueled by threats, and of course, Christian fiction is your thing, you might want to check out The Painter’s Daughter and other books by Julie Klassen. For me this is a four out of five star book, with some of the content making me pull away from the story, but overall the protagonists drawing me back in and making the read worth my while!
Until next time,