A League of Extraordinary Women, Book 3

From the publisher:

Going toe-to-toe with a brooding Scotsman is rather bold for a respectable suffragist, but when he happens to be one’s unexpected husband, what else is an unwilling bride to do?

London banking heiress Hattie Greenfield wanted just three things in life:

1. Acclaim as an artist.
2. A noble cause.
3. Marriage to a young lord who puts the gentle in gentleman.

Why then does this Oxford scholar find herself at the altar with the darkly attractive financier Lucian Blackstone, whose murky past and ruthless business practices strike fear in the hearts of Britain’s peerage? Trust Hattie to take an invigorating little adventure too far. Now she’s stuck with a churlish Scot who just might be the end of her ambitions….

When the daughter of his business rival all but falls into his lap, Lucian sees opportunity. As a self-made man, he has vast wealth but holds little power, and Hattie might be the key to finally setting long-harbored political plans in motion. Driven by an old desire for revenge, he has no room for his new wife’s apprehensions or romantic notions, bewitching as he finds her.

But a sudden journey to Scotland paints everything in a different light. Hattie slowly sees the real Lucian and realizes she could win everything–as long as she is prepared to lose her heart.

The Instant USA Today Bestseller!
One of Marie Claire’s most anticipated romances of 2021!
One of Cosmopolitan’s most anticipated fall books of 2021!
A BuzzFeed Best Summer Read of 2021!

This was my first read of this author or series. One of my reviewers, Caitlin, read the first book, Bringing Down the Duke, and loved it. I meant to read it, but forgot – so many books, so little time! I liked this book a lot and didn’t really feel like I was missing anything having not read the first two books in the series. I may poke around my Kindle though; I probably have both of them on there somewhere.

The main character, Hattie, is a suffragist and an artist. She is not titled, but her father is a very wealthy man so her life is easy. As easy as it gets for women in Victorian England. Her parents indulge her interest in art by allowing her to take classes at Oxford. When she hears about a tour being given for a private collection of art, she decides to ditch her protector/chaperone/security guard, and sneaks out to the exhibit. But when she gets there, no one seems to know anything about a tour. They leave her in one of the rooms filled with art and sculpture and tchotchkes galore, and then a man comes in, walks up to her and kisses her. She slaps him good, and that is the meet cute.

The man is Luke Blackstone, and it is his home that she is visiting but he doesn’t know about any tours. He just knows she is an unaccompanied woman, and like many who have visited him in the past, he assumes she is visiting to have sex with him. He is also not of the gentry but is possibly even wealthier than her father. Blackstone has a terrible reputation as he has bankrupted many of the aristocracy by collecting their debts.

Blackstone is intrigued and attracted. A short time later, an actual tour is planned but somehow Hattie ends up alone in the drawing room with him and he tries to kiss her again – and she leans in for it. Unfortunately for her, the mirrors in the room are actually two-way mirrors, so her family and friends all witness the kiss. Blackstone quickly announces they are betrothed, and gets to working out a deal with her father as was often done.

Hattie is angry that she is being forced into a marriage with a man she doesn’t know. But she is attracted to him and after speaking to him about what she wants in a marriage (which I found quite unbelievable for the times) he acquiesces to her demands and they marry. The wedding night is not great, but he is kind and when she asks him to stop, he does. And the next night. And so on. But other things happen to cause her to want to leave, and her best friend is an expert at helping women escape bad situations and arranges for her to go to France. But Blackstone is one step ahead and whisks her off to Scotland before she can leave him.

Blackstone owns a mine in this small town and is trying to determine how to help the people who work there. Hattie visits some of the local women and decides to learn how to take their photographs, in an artistic way, in hopes of creating a gallery show to raise money for the town. They are forced to stay in the only inn in town in a single room with only one bed and the marriage is finally consummated.

But when Hattie finds out her husband basically paid for her and figures out that he arranged for them to be caught so they would have to marry, she is angry and asks to leave. Blackstone agrees even though he is in love with her. Eventually, he goes to her and they work things out.

This was a very interesting book, I liked learning about early photography and the mines and the miners lives. I did find it a bit slow and had a hard time believing the characters behaviors in the time period. But suspending disbelief is part of the deal and I did like the book enough to go look for the earlier books in the series.

9/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

PORTRAIT OF A SCOTSMAN by Evie Dunmore. Berkley (September 7, 2021). ISBN: 978-1984805720. 432 pages.



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