Kelly Bowen is a masterful writer and I’m so exasperated with myself for not being completely caught up on her backlist. So needless to say, I was delighted to get the opportunity to read The Lady in Red in advance of its release on December 5, 2017. (Thanks NetGalley!) Of course, my opinions are my own, as always. And my opinion on this one is the usual awe at how well Bowen creates her story and her characters. She is an incredible author and I genuinely loved this novella. So let’s get started.
A lady with secrets, a man with a burning desire, a love that breaks all the rules…
Lady Charlotte Beaumont has spent her whole life being ignored. By her parents, her brother, even the servants. So she was secretly able to develop her talent for painting well beyond the usual watercolors. Too bad no one will let her actually use it—women are rarely accepted into the Royal Academy. But when a connection at the Haverhall School for Young Ladies gets Charlotte her dream commission, she’ll do whatever it takes to make it work. Including disguising herself as “Charlie.”
Flynn Rutledge has something to prove. His lowly upbringing is not going to stop him from achieving his artistic dreams. This commission is the key to his future, and his partner, an unknown youth in oversized clothes who is barely old enough to shave, doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. But Charlie does inspire Flynn’s artistic passion—something he worried he might have lost forever. For all his street smarts, nothing can prepare Flynn for the shock of Charlie’s true identity. He doesn’t care that she’s a woman, but a lady of the ton is a different matter altogether.
My one and only real qualm with this book is that the first chapter had me thinking I was getting King’s story as a novella, which would be tragic because I want a 500+ page tome dedicated to his backstory. I’m obsessed with King, honestly. It’s probably an issue. (She is writing a story about him, right?)
This novella involves some of my favorite tropes: a woman having to disguise herself like a man to be taken seriously, competence porn, and an angsty hero who gets his act together quickly. Too often novellas are too short for you to really connect with the characters, but while I didn’t necessarily find Charlotte relatable, I was emotionally invested in her finding love with Flynn. I would be more than happy to have read another 100+ pages, but I didn’t feel like there was anything missing from the story due to its length.
Let me know if you give this novella a shot! I definitely recommend it for fans of historical romance.