Series: Honeycote #2
Format: ebook via Netgalley
Length: 384 pages
Publisher: Forever (October 29, 2013)
A PORTRAIT OF A LADY
…or is it? The risqué painting owned by Benjamin Elliot, the earl of Foxburn, features a stunning beauty with sapphire eyes, golden hair, and creamy skin. Ben recognizes this particular English rose the instant he meets her—though she’s wearing considerably more clothing. In person, the demure debutante is even more irresistible . . .
In desperate need of money for her sick mother, Daphne Honeycote had posed for two scandalous portraits. Now she must hide her secret to save the Honeycote family name. Ben’s possession of one painting makes him an insufferable thorn in her side—and yet he may be her best chance at finding the canvas’s companion. As she becomes drawn to the dark-tempered earl, can Daphne risk laying bare the secrets of her heart?
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Other Books In Series:
Once She was Tempted follows one Miss Daphne Honeycote, newly affluent member of the ton thanks to her duchess sister’s happy marriage. However, Daphne’s happiness is shattered when one Lord Foxburn (Benjamin to his friends) informs her that he knows her secret – she (gasp!) posed for a painting. I’m being a bit facetious, but really. The entire conflict of this novel hangs on the assumption that should anyone of the ton see the paintings (there are actually two) that Daphne posed for years ago, her life as well as that of her sister, mother, and two sisters-in-law will be utterly ruined. While I don’t disagree that perhaps it would have been scandalous, I found it difficult to believe that the result would have been *that* extreme. Thus the book had to stand on the attraction and conflict between the two main characters – Daphne and Benjamin.
Benjamin is a wounded hero, having nearly lost his leg to a musket ball at Waterloo. Because he is injured/handicapped he feels that life is barely worth living and is miserable to everyone. The only reason he hasn’t become a recluse is a promise to his dying best friend to watch out for said friend’s little brother. When the little brother becomes enamored of Daphne, Benjamin must step in to save the young man from a woman of loose moral character. How does he know that Daphne is such a woman? Why, he owns one of the paintings, of course.
I actually did like this book, although I got impatient with it several times. The quality of the writing is high and the imagery is clear. However, Daphne’s insistence on keeping the truth of the paintings from her family irritates me – it is as if she doesn’t trust them to stand by her. In addition, Benjamin’s “I can’t be with you because you’ll grow tired of my invalid state” attitude irks the crap out of me. As he is a titled lord, nothing about his situation would force Daphne to play nursemaid, so that’s a completely invalid argument.
Finally, Daphne gives me mixed feelings. While she is brave and strong at the end of the book, she is weak when she’s with Ben and it drives me up a wall. She enters into a physical relationship with him knowing she can never have him, and then is devastated when he tells her that he can’t marry her. It makes me think she was using sex to change his mind which is at best misguided and at worst manipulative. I ended the book thinking Ben deserved more from a life partner. That said, the scenes between the two of them lack much of the artifice so present in Regency novels – perhaps this is because they spend such a large portion of the book alone together. I enjoyed most of their interactions and really liked Benjamin when he wasn’t having a pity party.
“Would you like to hear the first step of this new plan?”
Her face split into a blinding smile that soothed the stinging welts left by their exchange. She circled his arms around his neck, banishing all memory of pain. “I like this plan.”
He pulled her against him, and his blood heated instantly. “Wait ‘til you hear step two.”
Reviews for other books in series:
To All The Rakes I've Loved Before #1.5