With her parents’ marriage declared bigamous, Camille Westcott is now illegitimate and without a title. Looking to eschew the trappings of her old life, she leaves London to teach at the Bath orphanage where her newly discovered half-sister lived. But even as she settles in, she must sit for a portrait commissioned by her grandmother and endure an artist who riles her every nerve.
An art teacher at the orphanage that was once his home, Joel Cunningham has been hired to paint the portrait of the haughty new teacher. But as Camille poses for Joel, their mutual contempt soon turns to desire. And it is only the bond between them that will allow them to weather the rough storm that lies ahead…
Rating: ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆
So I find a certain amount of irony that I liked Camille Westcott’s story, considering yesterday when I was first introduced with her, I was rather irked with her yesterday when I read the first book in the series. However, as the saying goes, you really don’t understand a person until you get to know them and we, of course, couldn’t get to know Camille very well since it was Anna’s story and not Camille’s. Yes, I still find her behavior irritating since it’s rather unfair to Anna, however in this book I can forgive her for it since A) she admits, if only to herself that in her head she knows her behavior is wrong, but her heart is having a hard time adjusting (we all know emotions make no sense at all) and B) we get to see a glimpse of her childhood and how her father’s lack of love helped shape her into a woman who wanted to avoid extreme emotions and strive for perfection.
I really think that memory that we are given of her childhood and the late Earl, Humphrey the Butthole is one the things that helped make me look at her with more sympathy; that and seeing her try to teach the children at the orphanage and getting that inner dialogue of confusion as she finds herself after the traumatic blow at being made illegitimate in a single moment because of her ass father.I like it one point, that Camille at one point points this out that her father was an ass and that he could have fixed it so his wife was legal and his children legitimate if he had only married her mother again. We don’t know, at least at this point, if his actions are deliberate or of a selfish forgetful ass, but I kind of hope we learn although it really doesn’t matter because he is an ass in so many ways and I’m sure that when we get Harry and Abby’s story we will see that they too have their emotional wounds thanks to daddy dearest.
Anyways, the hero of this story is Joel, Anna’s childhood friend/bestie in the world/brother, who on principal of the fact that Camille’s rejection is hurting Anna, wants to dislike her. Yet, being around her, he finds that she is woman who is hurting and vulnerable and also that in some twisted way that this tragedy has done her good because she learned to just let herself love and that she does not have to be perfect to be loved. And she also serves to help Joel when he faces his own emotional problems (apparently the orphanage where Anna and Joel grew up seems to have a surge of grown up orphans who have their origins revealed and financial windfalls falling left and right).
I read in a few reviews complaints about how Joel and Camille fall into bed together, which is foolish, considering that they both (Camille especially since a woman seems to suffer worse) are illegitimate and thus have society censure for something not of their doing (like seriously why do them a child for the parents lack of marriage; and why is it a thing now? Sorry side rant, but I read in one of the middle states, they’re trying to make children born from IVF treatments illegitimate although I don’t know if this counts even if their parents are married and biological. Still it’s stupid, especially in this day and age.) so getting it on without being marriage is bad. However, I can understand why it happens. They both are seeking comfort in the age-old way that people have done for centuries.
In any case, Camille is more likable int his book. I’m not as confused by the plethora of characters because I sorta know who’s who now. And next book is the new Earl of Riverdale, Alexander who has to marry for money to take care of the earldom since Anna inherited all the money.