The Portrait by Joan Wolf

The Portrait by Joan Wolf
Publisher: Untreed Reads Publishing
Genre: Historical, Romance
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

Isabel Besson’s father owns a French Equestrian Circus in which she grew up, touring throughout France and performing with her brilliant horse, Alonzo. In the audience at a performance in London is Leo Sommers, Earl of Camden, who is stunned when he sees in Isabel the replica of his famous great-grandmother, whose portrait hangs in his drawing room.

This is no coincidence, as it soon comes to light that Isabel had been kidnapped as an infant and adopted by “Papa” and his wife when an English woman attempted to sell them the baby.

Isabel isn’t interested in meeting her natural family, but when she learns that her birth father, the Earl of Mansfield, has left her a great deal of money, Isabel sees a means for her Papa to retire from circus life, and she heads for a summer at Camden Hall to prove her right to the inheritance.

Camden Hall is one of England’s Great Houses, and everything about it feels alien to Isabel. She misses her Papa, the circus, France…everything from the life she knows. She does not like her new relatives: Lady Augusta, Leo’s elderly aunt who is always correcting her; Leo’s cousin Roger, who calls her “circus girl” and undresses her with his eyes; her own brother Henry, Earl of Mansfield, who doesn’t want to surrender their father’s money to her.

There is one person at Camden Hall who Isabel comes to love…the Earl of Camden—and Leo feels the same about her.

Which will win out…love, or money?

I think it’s impossible to dislike a Joan Wolf romance book. I must be enchanted by her style of writing. I was excited to start The Portrait because the synopsis sounded original to me. I’ve never read a plot where the heroine was kidnapped as an infant. Isabel, the heroine, grew up in an unconventional lifestyle compared to the life that she was born into. It was fascinating how the story evolved from beginning to end with the cast of characters and plot twists.

The hero, Leo, is every bit the Webster Dictionary definition of a hero, hands down. He was easy to fall in love with. He made the discovery and transition for Isabel’s new way of life bearable. I can’t imagine what it would be like to discover that I was the daughter of an earl after living nineteen years of my life. There is no comparison between growing up part of a French Equestrian Circus vs. growing up at Camden Hall, one of England’s Great Houses.

While I was pleased there was an epilogue included in this story, I was slightly disappointed with the plot thread regarding the death of a certain person. That thread felt weak, rushed or just tossed in there. Traditionally, Joan Wolf would weave a thread like that throughout her story making me riveted to my seat, not able to turn the pages fast enough. I didn’t let this disappointment hinder my enjoyment of the story. It just didn’t meet my level of exception that I’ve grown accustomed to from a Joan Wolf book. The Portrait was still a great read.

I recommend this book to a reader that is looking to escape into a sweet original romance. I enjoyed the relaxing romance between Leo and Isabel. I particularly enjoyed Isabel’s comments regarding “Off with their head”. It made me laugh. The Portrait was a fun read for me.

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