If all Regency Romances were written as well as "The Work of Art," I would read them all. Mimi Matthews takes the characters and historical settings and brings them to life in a way that captures the reader's attention and sends their minds on a journey of vivid imagery.
Phyllida Satterthwait, Philly for short, finds herself the ward of her distant uncle after the death of her grandfather. Brought to London to live with him and her two cousins, Philly longs for her old life - being able to wear her own clothes and spend time outside with her beloved dogs. Instead she is expected to wear fancy dresses that confine and learn to dance, all with one goal, to secure a husband.
What she doesn't realize is that her uncle has already made a deal that will see her become the property of a Duke known as The Collector. The Collector is obsessed with possessing anything that is a rarity, and Philly is indeed a rarity. She is being called The Work of Art by London society because of her eyes, one is a deep blue and the other amber. She is introduced to him during a ball, and her uncle's plan begins to unfold. She learns that she was never intended to be courted by anyone other than the Duke and that she has no say in the offer of marriage.
Once she is made aware of her uncle's plan and refuses the Duke, she flees London in a marriage of convenience with her new friend, Captain Arthur Heywood - a man broken by war and determined to not let The Collector have the woman he finds himself falling for. Once at Arthur's estate, they settle in and begin to build a life. Philly takes charge of the household and servants while Arthur manages the estate. They come to know each other and admit their love. Too soon a threat surfaces that could at the very least undo the fabric of their relationship and at the very worst could cost one of them their life. Will Arthur be able to figure out who wants revenge, will jealousy and scheming old loves find a way to come between them? Surprising news and a big reveal will keep you guessing until the very end.
Matthews' writing and historical descriptions are spot on. Her scenes are detailed and easily pictured, and I could see this story play out in my mind as I read the words. She has a true gift for storytelling. I can't wait to start reading another of her books.
Amy Deal is a romance writer from Huntington.