...Says the painting to the modern woman about to swoon.
Imagine that. A painting speaking to you!!!
There's two stories here, though the historical story is very, very minimal. I would call this a contemporary romance. In the past, Jago and Eliza had an affair. Now, don't judge. If you were in Eliza's shoes...
For reasons not divulged until the end--and therefore I won't divulge--Jago and Eliza's souls can only be reunited in the afterlife if their paintings are side by side. When the modern-day heroine falls in love with Jago's portrait at an auction, it changes her life in more ways than one. It sets her on an entirely different path. You see, Jago talks to her, and he sends her on a quest to find a missing painting--that of Eliza.
The quest sends her to an out-of-the-way estate where a Jago lookalike lives. A few little white lies--"I'm an art student seeking certain paintings..." leads to her being a temporary secretary and falling in love with her new boss, but gets her no closer to finding the painting...or does it?
The historical story, though minimal, presents some interesting parallels. The writing is great, as can be expected from a Courtenay novel. I liked the modern heroine in this, the way she grabs life, takes control, and despite what people say--especially her family--she does what is best for HER. I've said this before and I'll say it again: strength comes in many forms. A woman doesn't have to be wielding a sword or a gun or kicking butt and taking names to be strong.
The past heroine, Eliza, I had a harder time connecting with her. Perhaps because there is so little of her? I did like that she finds happiness, however forbidden and illicit, in a very miserable life though. You could say she makes the best of things. I did wonder many times though why she and Jago didn't run off together and questioned Jago's love for her. Surely some part of him wanted to rescue her? Take her away? I don't feel he tried very hard, to be honest. I loved him better when he was a talking painting.
While I'm on the subject, I want a talking painting. Though I probably wouldn't understand it, not unless the lips moved. LOL
But I digress.
The modern story kept me interested. There were little twists and turns and I could tell some characters were up to some shady stuff. The little girl is a show-stealer!! I don't normally like children in books but this one is a sweetie. But again, the hero didn't do it for me. Dude, someone has been in your house and slashed stuff. I expect more of a reaction than, "I'll ask around..."
Overall this is a very entertaining, light read. It was a pleasant diversion. The romance is sweet and takes just the right amount of time to develop. GREAT CHARACTER & RELATIONSHIP DEVELOPMENT, MS. COURTENAY. I've noticed in many books nowadays, heroes and heroines are lip-locking mere seconds after meeting--by page three. Not so in this. Superbly done. I felt like I was growing and learning and feeling with the characters.
I liked it, though I felt there was a tiny loose end or two. Did she ever come clean about the art student thing? Feel like I missed something. (I did skim the lovemaking scene. Perhaps there was a relevant conversation mid...er...well...) Oooh, and poor Sophie. Who is HER companion in the afterlife? That actually made me sad. And no, I won't explain that; it would ruin the story.
I bought this on Amazon Kindle.