REVIEW of The Portrait by Cassandra Austen

The PortraitCatherine Claverton is determined to get back at her heartless father by marrying and producing an heir to her mother’s title. Relegated to her rooms for many years because of a deformed leg, she can now enjoy being an observer of society, and if she can find a man who will not spurn her, a determined participant in a full and happy life. Sir Lyle, a dashing smuggler, is a longtime family friend who would give up his rakish ways for Catherine. But Catherine is drawn to the kind but awkward Captain Avebury, a man who has returned home from the Navy under a mysterious cloud. She determines to pursue Avebury as a partner even though he makes no declaration of love for her. In the midst of Catherine’s machinations, a ghost from her past surfaces in the form of an impoverished painter. When he threatens to put a scandalous portrait of Catherine on display, it will take the ingenuity of both Sir Lyle and Captain Avebury to save Catherine from the mockery of society.

This Regency romance was peopled with unusual characters and circumstances. Captain Avebury, with his social ineptness and awkward reticence, was quite an atypical hero. The lengths both he and Catherine go to forgive each other and save each other from scandal was quite heartwarming. Sir Lyle was a lovable rogue, and it seemed as if the book might have been set up to have a sequel featuring him. I loved the unusual cover of this book, and it well conveys the unique nature of this historical romance.

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