The Nude

Author: Dorothy McFalls

Publisher: Five Star/Gale/Cengage

Release Date: May 2009

Blue Ribbon Rating: 4

Format: PRINT

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  Lady Elsbeth has just come out of mourning her dead husband, the handsome and infamously depraved Count Mercer.  After vowing to never be caught in another cruel sham of a marriage, her re-introduction into the ton was to be subtly discreet, with Elsbeth quietly chaperoning her two younger cousins around town.  Instead, she finds herself embroiled in a scandal that not only promises to damn her reputation, but that of her family.

The talented, yet elusive painter, Dionysus, has struck again.  Ten years prior, Elsbeth found a soulful connection with the painter’s poignant landscapes and married Mercer thinking he was the artist of her heart.  The realization was sobering and Elsbeth, heartbroken, blamed Dionysus for orchestrating the deception.  Present day and finally beholden to none, Elsbeth doesn’t understand how Dionysus’s most recent creation, “The Nude,” could bear any resemblance to her.  He ruined her life once, why do it again?  Under the ton’s glower and her supposed debauchery on exhibit, Elsbeth can’t defend herself from their vilifying attacks.  She realizes the only way to acquit her is to expose Dionysus’s true identity.  

For reasons known only to him, Lord Nigel Edgeware takes full responsibility for Dionysus’s antics.  Determined to protect the artist’s true identity, but equally resolved to repair the damage he’s caused, Nigel seeks to influence the ton and restore Elsbeth’s reputation.  After having his aid refused, however, Nigel resolves to redirect her energy with a cool, but not-so-subtle seduction.  A noble mission, swathed in deliberate temptation, wrapped up in an undeniable sincerity.  An irresistible combination, to be sure.  And while Elsbeth wishes his attentions have no affect, her heart wonders if he’s her last chance for real happiness.

THE NUDE is a tender journey of love lost and miraculously found, of unwavering trust and elusive betrayals, of self-realization and emotional rejuvenation.  The effects of the physical abuse from Elsbeth’s previous marriage are no longer visible, but she continues to feel the aftershocks.  Elsbeth’s insecurities and mistrust of others is heartrending; especially when those misgivings pertain to Nigel.  Nigel, for all intents and purposes, is “perfect.”  Powerful, well-respected, affluent, but more noteworthy, his actions are a little too calculated.  There always seems to be a hidden motive behind each “grand” gesture; for instance, striving to restore a stranger’s reputation among the ton.  Despite her doubts about his character, which have semi-substantial merit, his clever flirtations, disarming charms, and perpetual patience will have the reader exclaiming, “What a man!”  Nigel’s cunning persistence in the face of Elsbeth’s constant vigilance will leave readers’ mouths gaping... either that, or have the reader screaming in gleeful frustration.  It’s a long road from Nigel first whispering to Elsbeth of his intent to save her name, and their penultimate happy-ever-after, complete with unadulterated bliss, sexual reawakening and steamy love scenes.  But it’s a road not only worthy of undertaking, but a road that often times feel a moral imperative to travel.

THE NUDE is a winsome tale to be cherished by all impassioned readers.

By Romance Junkies Reviewer: Chris

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