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?
Bubby: Ah, a classic Regency romance. We’ve got the smooth-talking rake, the damsel-in-distress, the stuffy yet honorable military man with hidden depths who comes to the rescue, and even the slimy want-to-be love interest, all wrapped up in a breathtakingly beautiful English setting. It’s everything I love (and hate) about the Regency genre in one neat package. What do I hate, you might ask? Well, I hate that the female characters have a hard time thinking for themselves, I hate the double standards of the era and I hate the predictability that usually runs rampant in these novels. But. This one is a little different. There were a few plot twists that were anything but predictable. Our heroine learns to pick up her head, put on her big-girl corset and deal with life. And a few of the characters quite surprised me.
Sissy: Oh, my! I dare say you’ve summed it all up in one paragraph, my darling sister! What shall I do now? I shall tell the truth, which is that usually when I hear the dreaded words “Regency Romance,” I feel the dyspepsia rising, which is a polite way of saying I throw up a little in my mouth. I find myself wanting to put distance between my body and such works and pretend that I am reading Dostoyevsky instead.
Bubby: Yes, because we all know that you are a HUGE fan of Russian literature. I had to read Crime and Punishment for a college class once. I wanted to die.
Sissy: I read Anna Karenina one time. I like Russian figure skaters. And fur hats. Anyway, The Painter’s Daughter has nothing to do with Russia and everything to do with good writing and an entertaining story line. I was annoyed with the oh so talented Sophie for being a girly idiot but I understand that the brain washing of the time period made her that way. I was happy to watch her grow a pair (of ovaries) and take responsibility for her life.
Bubby: I have to give a shout out here to my dear friend Heather (Hi, Heather!) for making me take a second look at the Regency genre. I had given up on it completely because of the above mentioned reasons until Heather told me that I shouldn’t judge all Regencies by the predictable and frustrating ones. As usual, Heather is right. I did have moments of frustration while reading The Painter’s Daughter, but all the characters grew and changed quite nicely, and by the end (happy, of course!) I was appeased. I do still want to take a broom and beat Wesley soundly about the head and shoulders. Repeatedly.
Sissy: Agreed! Wesley is one that I would love to strangle with his own breeches (just till he was almost dead, of course.) And just as much as we loathed Wesley, we loved Stephen and his sweet sister Kate.
Bubby: Yes, Kate’s almost as good of a sister as I am. Almost.
Sissy: Just like you’re almost as odd as the old nursemaid Winnie.
Bubby: Odd is better than boring, Sissy. The Painter’s Daughter by Julie Klassen is anything but boring. I loved it even though I didn’t want to. A great choice for reading way into the night when you really should be sleeping (not that I ever do that or anything…)
Sissy: Me either… Julie Klassen, I must admit, always writes great novels. Why did we think this would be any different? Go ahead and read The Painter’s Daughter and skip all the Dostoyevsky. You’ll be much less depressed.
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We received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for a fair and honest review