This novella by Kelly Bowen is #3.5 in her Season for Scandal series and it’s a wonderful short tale of drama and love and living your dream.
Lady Charlotte Beaumont is the daughter of an earl, but she’s been largely ignored by her parents for her whole life. She’s not conventionally pretty, and wasn’t considered to be destined for marriage. And while the loneliness of her life was difficult, she has spent the time on her own learning to paint. She has a natural talent and longs to have her artwork on display in a gallery someday even though she realizes as a woman this is unlikely. Her quest to get a job painting murals for a church leads her to King, an enigmatic character that appeared here and there in some of the other books in the series. He’s one of those amoral men that deals in stolen goods and other black market trades, and you know that you should hate but he’s very intriguing and charming as well. Recognizing her talent, he makes a deal with her to secure the job.
In short order, Charlotte finds herself at the Haverall School for Young Ladies which will be the focus of the next series. The school isn’t your usual one, as they have special “programs” to aid talented young women into male-dominated professions. And to do this, Charlotte is transformed into Charlie, a young man and sets off for the chance of a lifetime to prove she is capable of the opportunity.
The other artist on the job is Flynn Rutledge, who isn’t pleased to find a young amateur has arrived to assist him. However, he quickly realizes that Charlie is indeed talented, and Charlie’s passion invokes his own inspiration that had been lacking for some time. After an unfortunate incident occurs, he discovers her true gender and the romance begins to evolve from there. What I loved about their relationship is that they were already sharing a passion for art, and that he saw her talent and her strength of character so it wasn’t just a story of insta-romance. There is a bit of a bump along the way to the ending, but these two were such a joy to read about, I was sorry when it was done. My only quibble with this book is that the cover (while very pretty) really has nothing to do with the story!
Kelly continues to write about strong women and I’m looking forward to the new series that comes out next year.