Portrait Of A Scotsman - Fairytale With A Twist

Portrait Of A Scotsman Book Review

In this feisty novel, romance tropes are used and then turned on their heads. The author asks us to question our ethical and emotional response to a villain to hero love affair. Sounds complicated, but this love story is still gripping and oh so sexy.  

Evie Dunmore is the author of the League of Extraordinary Gentlewomen series. Her first novels have mixed romance and feminism with pleasing results. In Portrait of a Scotsman Dunmore is back to her feminist soapbox (don’t worry, it’s a sexy one), but has also added in lessons on social justice and reform.  

The Plot

Hattie has grown up privileged in her wealthy family. She is part of the suffragist movement, but more out of a wish to have a hobby and friends than a burning need to change the world. Her impulsive nature finally lands her in trouble when she is tricked into a compromising situation by London’s most notorious bachelor. To save her reputation she is forced to marry the mysterious Lucian Blackstone. When Hattie becomes a flight risk Lucian whisks her away to the wilds of Scotland and his newly acquired mining town of Drummuir.  

The destitution and suffering of the mining town that Lucian is attempting to improve begin to open Hattie’s eyes to a life very different to the affluence she is used to. The time alone with Lucian also starts revealing the softer side to this man she feared as a brute. Hattie is now in danger of loving the husband who forced her into marriage.  

The Review

Dunmore has created a Beauty and the Beast style romance story with a twist. Lucian is a rags to riches gentleman who still embraces the underworld he came from. Hattie is an innocent with a big heart. When these two are suddenly forced together by Lucian’s scheming for a wife the sparks begin to fly. However, Dunmore is very careful that any bodice-ripping in this story is highly encouraged by the woman. Hattie’s sexual awakening is consensual. Lucian may have forced her into marriage, but he vows not to force her into his bed.  

The romance trope of the beast to the prince is as old as fairytales, but what Dunmore wants us to remember is that this tale of women being tied to men they don’t want is as old as time, and it is not a fairytale. In this story, the anger does turn to lust and then eventually love, but Hattie also transforms into a woman mature enough to see that the abuse of power that Lucian wielded at the beginning can not and should not be forgiven.  

This is Dunmore’s feminist twist. Don’t worry, this is still a romance novel, so a happily ever after is guaranteed, but Lucian must first undo the wrongs he wrought at the beginning. Their relationship needs to start again on equal power for it to work. I applaud Dunmore’s stance on this topic, as too often it can be uncomfortably close to coercion and rape in other books. The only downside is the ending seems rushed and even though I can understand why it must happen it is unbelievable.  

Portrait of a Scotsman is a sexy romance novel. The sexual tension and love scenes are red hot and help to drive the drama of the growing relationship between Hattie and Lucian. The setting in the Drummuir mine also brings in the new aspect of socialism and the need to help others less fortunate. Hattie and Lucian have fascinating conversations about socialism, society and the struggle of helping others while feeling your privilege.  

Summary

This novel is very enjoyable, especially if you’re after an entertaining and sexy read. As a bonus, underneath the romance novel surface is a message to not lose yourself while trying to save a bad boy. Yes, there is a happy ending, but only after Hattie has regained her power.

— Bliss
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Hi, I'm Bliss, the reader and writer behind Books For Bliss. Discover book reviews, lists for your next great read, or a story to make you feel great. It's all right at your finger tips; happiness on a page. Read More

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