An artist stumbles upon a naked duke and an unlikely love story begins in this captivating Victorian historical romance.
When Royal Academy painting student Lucy Coover trips over a naked man passed out in an East End alley, she does the decent thing. She covers him up and fetches help. Trouble is, she can't banish his muscular form from her dreams as easily. Compelled to capture every detail, she creates a stunning portrait but is forced to sell it when the rent comes due. What could be worse than surrendering the very picture of your desire? Meeting the man himself.
Anthony Philby, Duke of Weston, is nobody's muse. Upon discovering the scandalous likeness, he springs into action. His infamous family has been torn apart by shame and secrets, and he can't afford more gossip. Even a whisper may jeopardize his inheritance and his chance at independence. His plan is simple: burn the painting, confront the artist. Or rather, it's simple until he meets Lucy and decides to offer the bewitching young artist a devil's bargain. He'll help save her foreclosed home, if she'll help repair his family’s brutal legacy.
An irresistible passion ignites between them, but when danger strikes, Lucy and Anthony must risk everything... for a love that might destroy them both.
Lowell (Dark Season) conjures vivid characters in this intelligent Victorian romance. As a female student at the Royal Academy of Arts, Lucy Coover is not permitted to attend nude figure drawing classes. So when she stumbles on a gorgeous man passed out naked in an alley, she cannot help later committing his form to canvas. When she comes face-to-face with her (now conscious) muse months later, she learns he is Anthony Philby, Duke of Weston. Anthony is bound by his father's will to avoid scandal or risk his inheritance, so he and Lucy come to an arrangement to keep the shocking portrait from public view. Their businesslike relationship is complicated when Anthony offers to help Lucy evade eviction in exchange for assistance finding his missing sister. The corruption they uncover provides plenty of atmospheric intrigue, deepened by Lowell's willingness to engage with ideas of gender, class, and empire, and by the complexity of the characters. Anthony struggles with self-doubt after a lifetime of being belittled, while sharp-eyed Lucy is refreshingly unwilling to indulge his vices or to throw away her dreams in favor of passion. Seasoned readers may predict the fates of both Lucy's painting and Anthony's sister, but will be too invested in the characters to mind. \n