Review: Portrait of a Scotsman (A League of Extraordinary Women #3) by Evie Dunmore

When I first read Evie Dunmore’s debut novel, Bringing Down the Duke, I absolutely fell in love. I hadn’t been consistently reading a ton of historical romances (meaning, I hadn’t read Julia Quinn yet!) and all I could think of was ‘finally—-a romance novel I can get behind!’ I felt like I was reading something deliciously modern yet set in the Victorian era with all the things I love about historical fiction—strong women with untold stories.

I read the second book in this series and while I didn’t love it as much as I loved the first book, I was eager to continue with the series. I was especially excited to read this one because it promised a Scotsman (hence the title!) and featured one of the most random women in the series, Hattie. In the books before Hattie always seemed so silly and just simply random like she just didn’t belong in the series with the other women.

This was one of the few romance novels that I also downloaded as an audiobook. I rarely download romance novels on my Audible simply because I know that I will burn through them so quick and I don’t want to waste an Audible credit, however I had 6 credits saved up and I was desperate to read this one at every turn so I secured a copy on Audible as well.

Summary

Going toe-to-toe with a brooding Scotsman is rather bold for a respectable suffragist, but when he happens to be one’s unexpected husband, what else is an unwilling bride to do?

London banking heiress Hattie Greenfield wanted “just” three things in life:

1. Acclaim as an artist.
2. A noble cause.
3. Marriage to a young lord who puts the gentle in gentleman.

Why then does this Oxford scholar find herself at the altar with the darkly attractive financier Lucian Blackstone, whose murky past and ruthless business practices strike fear in the hearts of Britain’s peerage? Trust Hattie to take an invigorating little adventure too far. Now she’s stuck with a churlish Scot who just might be the end of her ambitions….

When the daughter of his business rival all but falls into his lap, Lucian sees opportunity. As a self-made man, he has vast wealth but holds little power, and Hattie might be the key to finally setting long-harbored political plans in motion. Driven by an old revenge, he has no room for his new wife’s apprehensions or romantic notions, bewitching as he finds her.

But a sudden journey to Scotland paints everything in a different light. Hattie slowly sees the real Lucian and realizes she could win everything—as long as she is prepared to lose her heart (summary from Goodreads)

Review

This one was certainly a challenge for me in many ways but when I say challenge, I don’t mean it in a bad way. Let me give you a small example, the narrator of the audiobook at first sounded like a little old grandma and then she started using the F word and I was like oh god can I really continue with the audiobook? But then when she read the Lucian parts with the Scottish burr I was like well ok I can get past it and honestly I ended up loving the audio version. That was basically how this book went for me over all. Another example would be the mining parts—-interesting but also excessive. Did I want to know more about the mining? Yes but I really wanted more romance—I felt like my body was at war with wanting more and yet having too much of things.

Wuthering Heights is my favorite classic and arguably one of my favorite books. I love Heathcliff and Cathy yet hate them at the same time. I love the brooding, complex hero and the passionate complicated and messy love they have for one another. That clearly came across in this book which is why I loved Lucian because he was a more updated version of Heathcliff. I don’t know that Hattie came across as an updated Cathy and she ended up being tolerable at best for me. Hattie was soiled and snobby and grated on my nerves at times in the novel, but then there were times when I found her probably the most accurately represented female in the series thus far for the time period. Hattie was more high born and wealthy trapped in a marriage with a man she despised yet was drawn to. She had complex feelings toward him and I thought that showed how love isn’t always easy or pretty but can sometimes be messy and challenging. She represented love in a way that wasn’t traditional and I admired her for that. The end though was a struggle for me and I had a hard time rationalizing her choice while it made sense in of itself, having it come at that late in the story didn’t seem to serve much of a purpose for me.

So what made me finish this book in a few hours and love it? Lucian. Good god, how I love a brooding, complex, dark hero. He was mysterious, complicated, troubled, and broken. Not necessarily the ‘bad boy’ but clearly he wasn’t the knight in shining armor that is so traditional in many historical romances. Lucian was just the kind of hero I needed to read right now. I have been reading so many historical romances lately and there are so many heroes who while charming and attractive, they didn’t have the dark brooding quality that Lucian did and for me it was magnetic and refreshing. For me he was one of the realist heroes, his motives weren’t always pretty nor were his choices always for the greater good but he had a heart of gold that was bruised and tender. I simply adored him and would have given this book 5 stars simply based on Lucian.

The only thing that I struggled a bit with this one was some of the social issues. This book had a ton of social issues laced throughout—-from women’s rights to labor issues and some social hierarchy thrown in. There were times when I felt that it bogged the story down more than necessary. A lot of the mining info was interesting but it also came at times when I was ready to get back to the romance. Overall though this was another wonderful installment to a shining series in the historical romance category! You can definitely read this series out of order so if you love Wuthering Heights like me, then start here with this one!

Book Info and Rating

Format448 pages, Paperback

Published September 7, 2021 by Jove

ISBN9781984805720 (ISBN10: 198480572X)

Free review copy provided by publisher, Berkley, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.

Rating: 4.5 stars

Genre: historical romance

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