An Uncommon Beauty…
Hidden away in rural Devonshire, Phyllida Satterthwaite has always been considered more odd than beautiful. But in London, her oddity has made her a sensation. Far worse, it’s caught the eye of the sinister Duke of Moreland—a notorious art collector obsessed with acquiring one-of-a-kind treasures. To escape the Duke’s clutches, she’s going to need a little help.
An Unlikely Hero…
Captain Arthur Heywood’s days of heroism are long past. Grievously injured in the Peninsular War, he can no longer walk unaided, let alone shoot a pistol. What use can he possibly be to a damsel in distress? He has nothing left to offer except his good name.
Can a marriage of convenience save Philly from the vengeful duke? Or will life with Arthur put her—and her heart—in more danger than ever?
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The Work of Art is the story of "Philly" Phyllida Satterthwaite. After Philly's grandfather, who raised her, dies, she is sent to live with relatives in London. She has Heterochromia, two different color eyes - one blue, one amber. Her unusual and striking looks catch the attention of the Duke of Moreland, who is known as "The Collector" because he wants to collect anything unusual. Philly wants to escape an arranged marriage with the Duke, so she enters into a marriage of convenience with Arthur Heywood. Arthur was wounded in the war. He has emotional wounds too, but his life changes when he meets Philly.
This is my second read by Mimi Matthews. I absolutely love her books! The stories are so engrossing and so full of the most exquisite historical details. Unlike most of her other books, The Work of Art is a Regency novel set in London during Spring, 1814.
Philly is such a likeable and unique character. She loves animals and has a little family of four dogs that she loves and protects. The smallest dog, Fox, has a wounded leg. She is so lacking in pretensions; I felt badly for her when the Duke makes her the object of attention by calling her The Work of Art in society.
The Duke is a malevolent figure, controlling and overbearing. I can certainly see why Arthur, who is straightforward, kind, and intelligent, would be so appealing to Philly. I loved the romance between Philly and Arthur; it starts as a casual friendship, but grows quickly as she longs to escape the Duke's plans.
There is also a strong mystery storyline in this novel. As they settle in at Heywood House, mysterious things begin happening that lead Arthur to think that someone is stalking Philly and wishing her harm.
The descriptions in this book are vivid and appealing. For instance, Arthur's home is described:
"Heywood House appeared in a swathe of moonlight as they crested the final hill in their path. The classical Palladian structure was built of granite, which had weathered over the years, and under the full moon, made the house look as if it were composed of silvery shadows rather than gray stone. It was a building of perfect proportions, set back amid untamed parkland ..." (location 2137, Kindle).
One thing that makes Mimi Matthews' books unique is her large vocabulary of historical and sometimes archaic words. I found myself learning new words here and there in the book through the Kindle dictionary feature. I really like that about her books!
I absolutely loved The Work of Art and cannot recommend it highly enough for fans of historical fiction and historical romance. The author reveals in the afterward that this book was originally meant to be a two book series with The Viscount and the Vicar's Daughter. I have decided that will be my next read, since I enjoyed this book so much!
USA Today bestselling author Mimi Matthews (A Victorian Lady’s Guide to Fashion and Beauty, The Matrimonial Advertisement) writes both historical non-fiction and traditional historical romances set in Victorian England. Her articles on nineteenth century history have been published on various academic and history sites, including the Victorian Web and the Journal of Victorian Culture, and are also syndicated weekly at BUST Magazine. In her other life, Mimi is an attorney. She resides in California with her family, which includes an Andalusian dressage horse, two Shelties, and two Siamese cats.
For more information, please visit Mimi Matthews’ website and blog. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, BookBub, Pinterest, Google+, and Goodreads.
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The Work of Art