Lowell conjures vivid characters in this intelligent Victorian romance ... The corruption they uncover provides plenty of atmospheric intrigue, deepened by Lowell’s willingness to engage with ideas of gender, class, and empire, and by the complexity of the characters. Anthony struggles with self-doubt after a lifetime of being belittled, while sharp-eyed Lucy is refreshingly unwilling to indulge his vices or to throw away her dreams in favor of passion. Seasoned readers may predict the fates of both Lucy’s painting and Anthony’s sister, but will be too invested in the characters to mind.
Lowell’s prose is vivid and evocative, and issues such as class inequity, women’s rights, and alcohol addiction complement the intense on-page evolution of the love story. Some elements may be too neatly resolved, but those looking for a happy-ever-after for complex and passionate characters will be very satisfied here ... A new voice in historical romance that will keep readers riveted.