Sophie Dupont, daughter of a portrait painter, assists her father in his studio, keeping her own artwork out of sight. She often walks the cliffside path along the north Devon coast, popular with artists and poets. It's where she met the handsome Wesley Overtree, the first man to tell her she's beautiful. Captain Stephen Overtree is accustomed to taking on his brother's neglected duties. Home on leave, he's sent to find Wesley. Knowing his brother rented a cottage from a fellow painter, he travels to Devonshire and meets Miss Dupont, the painter's daughter. He's startled to recognize her from a miniature portrait he carries with him--one of Wesley's discarded works. But his happiness plummets when he realizes Wesley has left her with child and sailed away to Italy in search of a new muse.
Wanting to do something worthwhile with his life, Stephen proposes to Sophie. He does not offer love, or even a future together, but he can save her from scandal. If he dies in battle, as he believes he will, she'll be a respectable widow with the protection of his family.
Desperate for a way to escape her predicament, Sophie agrees to marry a stranger and travel to his family's estate. But at Overtree Hall, her problems are just beginning. Will she regret marrying Captain Overtree when a repentant Wesley returns? Or will she find herself torn between the father of her child and her growing affection for the husband she barely knows?
I have not read a Julie Klassen book yet that I have disliked. This one I think is my favorite so far. What a tale this one told. I was not sure, like the heroine Sophie, what would be the best plan for her life. She was young and naive and quite taken advantage of by the man she loved and whom she believed loved her. Then in steps his younger brother, Stephen, to rescue her and give to her a respectable life. This all happens in the first few chapters. What follows is a marriage in name only story that unfolds into a beautiful portrait of what happiness may look like for Stephen and Sophie. However, this book at over 450 pages does not follow the path to true love easily. No, we must watch as these characters seem to have their hearts ripped out a few times.
It was very hard for me to put this book down for real life. With romantic tension, war looming on the horizon, dire warnings and predictions, and with a slight gothic thread running throughout was a story that totally mesmerized me and I hated to have it end. Memorable characters, both good and bad, captured my attention as well and I look forward to Ms. Klassen’s next novel.
I received a free copy of this book through TBCN/Bookfun. I was not required to give a positive review and all views expressed are my own.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Julie Klassen loves all things Jane--Jane Eyre and Jane Austen. She worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full time. Three of her novels have won the Christy Award for Historical Romance. Her book, The Silent Governess, was also a finalist in the Minnesota Book Awards, ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year Awards, and Romance Writers of America's RITA Awards. Julie is a graduate of the University of Illinois. She and her husband have two sons and live near St. Paul, Minnesota. Visit www.julieklassen.com for more information.