Portrait of a Forbidden Love (The Rebellious Sisterhood 1)
In this first in the Rebellious Sisterhood series, determined artist Artemisia Stansfield seduces an earl’s son with her painting skill and attractive unconventionality. Darius Rutherford is a scrupulous art critic enjoined by the Royal Academy to assess Artemisia’s work. Artemisia insists he observes her closely and at length, and the interlude in coastal Kent leads to passion. But back in London, when she sees Darius ready to fight the Academy on her behalf, Artemisia worries she will be his ruin.
Artemisia and Darius are both bold, confident characters, and Artemisia, especially, has no chinks in her armor; she’s been hardened by past betrayals. Artemisia takes lovers, paints what she wants, and marches into the inn where a naked Darius is bathing to pour cold water on him because he snooped around her art, so why she seeks the approval of the Academy might mystify some readers. Those who track the swift turn from enemies to lovers will enjoy the sensuous love scenes and developing intimacy, even if the characters’ attitudes seem more late-Victorian than 1819 Regency. Darius proves the value of having an aristocratic lover to solve all a girl’s problems, but the protagonists are well-matched and the resolution sweet.