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Portrait of a Lady*

Excellent Start to New Steamy Historical Series

I love the historical romances written by Victoria Vale! I have read the entire Villain series and totally loved the last two books, writing some of my longest reviews–nearly a thousand words each–for those books. I will try not to go on so long in this one! What I like about Ms. Vale’s novels is that she is able to pull me right into the story with a great setup and complex characters, making me not want to put the book down.

This book starts with a scene of drunken debauchery of five down-and-out friends. One of them comes up with a brilliant idea that they should become male courtesans so that they could live a life of more ease, as some have debts, have been disowned by their family, or want nothing to do with their family. Gentlemen of the era, of course, didn’t work proper jobs! In this scene, the author sets up the entire series about the gentleman courtesans… and hinted that the ringleader might have some secrets that will probably only be revealed in his book.

The central part of the book starts two years later, discussing the life of one of these courtesans who is hoping for his last keeper (as they call the women) before he breaks into the art scene. I loved the hero and heroine. I felt sorry for the poor girl; she was so meek and timid that she could barely request the services to initiate the relationship, and even after she did, she vacillated between wanting to go forward with her scheme and wanting to back out. As always in this author’s books, the sensual scenes range from steamy to erotica. I thought the author did an excellent job showing the world as it would have been at the time. I felt I was in Vauxhall Gardens at the masquerade (where the first meeting between the hero and heroine took place) myself; I can picture it that vividly from the author’s words. A thoroughly enjoyable first book of what I believe will be another fantastic series by the author.