A Portrait of a Lady
…or is it? The risqué painting owned by Benjamin Elliot, the earl of Foxburn, features a stunning beauty with sapphire eyes, golden hair, and creamy skin. Ben recognizes this particular English rose the instant he meets her—though she's wearing considerably more clothing. In person, the demure debutante is even more irresistible…
In desperate need of money for her sick mother, Daphne Honeycote had posed for two scandalous portraits. Now she must hide her secret to save the Honeycote family name. Ben's possession of one painting makes him an insufferable thorn in her side—and yet he may be her best chance at finding the canvas's companion. As she becomes drawn to the dark-tempered earl, can Daphne risk laying bare the secrets of her heart?
Type: Historical Romance
Heat: 3 out of 5--though very little
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
On Sale Oct 29
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A heroine with an oh so scandalous past posing for a pair of risque paintings and a broken, damaged hero who just so happens to own one of those gloriously naughty creations. Sweet. Mary. I loved it.
Things move at a nice pace and are so flipping entertaining as Lady Daphne's past rears it's ugly head--threatening to ruin her reputation and life among the ton-- and she's forced to enlist the help of one very reluctant and sexy hero to get her missing portrait back before it's too late.
Alright, so, Ben. The reluctant hero. Let me just wipe the drool off my book for a second. Holy. He's my kind of hero. He's grouchy and grumbly and totally an alpha male. But he's a rather broken one that is wallowing in his own personal hell of despair and pain after his best friend is killed and he's permanently injured. I absolutely broke for him. He's really questioning his value and his strength as a man because of his injuries and is embarrassed by them and just wants to be left alone. He's just. Gah I so wanted to lick him up and down and hug him. I know, it's weird. But I love those broken ones that just need a push back into life. And holy hell the man can kiss. Like kiss you stupid kiss.
"Lord Biltmore is here to see you. Shall I send him in?"Ben considered this. He couldn't remember the last time he'd had a visitor. True, it was only Hugh, but heaven forbid that the social calls become a routine occurrence. Hades had his underworld, a dragon had his lair, and Ben had his town house. Guests were to be endured, he supposed, but definitely not encouraged. "I suppose you can show him back here."
And Daphne pretty much restored my faith in heroines. I've been having such a hard time with them lately but Daphne was wonderful. She's caring, passionate, head strong and determined. She'll push when she has to and will put her foot down something fierce but she's never too much, you know? She doesn't come off as a harpy but as a genuinely good person who cares about the people around her and wants to improve their lives any way she can. She was a very welcome change of pace for me and a character I just adored.
Daphne and Ben were really fantastic together. They butt heads from the very start and have one of those relationships that's rather blunt and honest--which I love. She doesn't walk on eggshells around him and he actually lets his guard down around her... eventually. I really loved that in their own ways they were both helping each other--either in finding a painting or just embracing life and living again. There are some incredibly emotional scenes between them that left me breathless and had me putting my book down to recover a little. Life has been hard for both of them and it's not always pretty but damn it leaves you completely in awe of them and their strength as they hunt down a painting that really will change both of their lives.
Barton is really becoming one of my favorite writers. And she outdid herself with Once She Was Tempted bringing together amazing characters, a unique situation and just an incredible romance that made me want to climb right into the book and be a part of it all. One of the things I love most is that she really made me SEE the world she created. You could practically feel the gorgeous gowns the ladies were wearing, see them playing on the lawn and can so imagine the paintings of Daphne. It makes for such an incredible experience and left me eager to see what amazing journey she'll take me on next.
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