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Friday, February 10, 2023

Book Review: Artfully Yours by Joanna Lowell

Artfully Yours
by Joanna Lowell
February 21, 2023
Sparks fly between a lordly art critic and a lady forger in this enthralling Victorian historical romance from the author of The Runaway Duchess.

Nina Finch isn't suited for a life of crime. Raised by her art-forger brother, she can paint like Botticelli. But she'd so much rather be baking gooseberry tarts. She finally has the money she needs to open her own bakery. Unfortunately, her brother's carelessness lands her—and their forgeries—directly under the nose of London's most discerning art critic, Alan De'Ath. De'Ath knows the paintings are fake. He doesn't know that Nina had a hand in their creation. In fact, he offers her a job in his household. Accepting it is the most dangerous thing she has ever done....

Alan takes pride in seeing things other people miss. He plans to catch the forger and cement his reputation. There's only one problem: the closer he gets to the beguiling woman he hired, the less he trusts his perspective. Nina isn't what she seems. But despite their false start, she just might hold the real key to his heart. 

As Nina and Alan’s attraction grows, divided loyalties threaten to pull them apart and shatter their worlds. They’ll lose everything, or discover how powerful true love can be....

For years, art forger Nina Finch has produced fakes of the masters at the behest of her manipulative older brother Jack. Nina is a rare talent but really longs for a simpler life in the countryside, owning her very own bakery. When Nina inconveniently catches the attention of renowned art critic and social elite Alan De’Ath, she soon finds herself in an impossible situation. Desperate for income, Nina takes a position as Alan’s personal secretary as he embarks on a mission to prove that recently acquired paintings are fakes. Nina must assist Alan in his work to uncover the forger knowing full well that she is the culprit. Jack encourages the arrangement to gain insider knowledge of Alan’s operation despite the fact Nina is in great peril. An attraction immediately develops, but Nina cannot honestly forge any future with Alan with such a monumental secret between them.

As an art enthusiast, I was excited to read Artfully Yours. The combination of art, intrigue and romance was very appealing. Ultimately, however, this book was just okay for me. I didn’t connect fully with Nina or Alan. I was more entertained by other characters who were more on the periphery. Plus, I inexplicably dislike monkeys, and Nina’s pet marmoset was highly off-putting to this reader. I understand this book is part of a series with recurring characters, but it appears to be marketed as a standalone. At times I felt I’d picked this up somewhere in the middle and was not privy to dynamics I might have benefited from if I’d read previous connected books. As with all historical romances, the contemporary is an essential part of the tone. Issues of feminism and mental illness are incorporated, as is a seemingly non-gender-conforming character. These inclusions grant a relatability to the story for readers.

Three sheep

Bianca Greenwood

About the Author:
Joanna Lowell lives among the fig trees in North Carolina, where she teaches in the English department at Wake Forest University. When she’s not writing historical romance, she writes collections and novels as Joanna Ruocco. Those books include Dan, Another Governess / The Least Blacksmith, The Week, and Field Glass, co-authored with Joanna Howard.

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