The Painter’s Daughter is the newest Christian romance novel by Julie Klassen. A look back through my book reviews and you’ll see she’s a favorite author of mine. The Painter’s Daughter has everything you’d want from a clean regency novel. The love triangle between the heroine Sophie and two brothers Wesley & Stephen takes the reader through a roller coaster of love, betrayal, loss, scandal, tension, heartbreak, redemption, and ultimately faith when all seems hopeless.
Sophie Dupont, daughter of a portrait painter, assists her father in his studio, keeping her own artwork out of sight. She often walks the cliffside path along the north Devon coast, popular with artists and poets. It’s where she met the handsome Wesley Overtree, the first man to tell her she’s beautiful.
Captain Stephen Overtree is accustomed to taking on his brother’s neglected duties. Home on leave, he’s sent to find Wesley. Knowing his brother rented a cottage from a fellow painter, he travels to Devonshire and meets Miss Dupont, the painter’s daughter. He’s startled to recognize her from a miniature portrait he carries with him- one of Wesley’s discarded works. But his happiness plummets when he realizes Wesley has left her with child and sailed away to Italy in search of a new muse.
Wanting to do something worthwhile with his life, Stephen proposes to Sophie. He does not offer love, or even a future together, but he can save her from scandal. If he dies in battle, as he believes he will, she’ll be a respectable widow with the protection of his family.
Desperate for a way to escape her predicament, Sophie agrees to marry a stranger and travel to his family’s estate. But at Overtree Hall, her problems are just beginning. Will she regret marrying Captain Overtree when a repentant Wesley returns? Or will she find herself torn between the father of her child and her growing affection for the husband she barely knows?
While The Painter’s Daughter didn’t contain the same element of mystery that Julie Klassen is so good at creating, I definitely enjoyed this story.
One of the reasons I enjoy her novels so much is that she’s able to develop characters and story lines that are perfectly imperfect, which make them so relatable. For example, even today a young woman being abandoned while pregnant wouldn’t be an easy situation, so I can only imagine how difficult that would have been during the Regency Era.
My first thought when Captain Stephen Overtree proposes to Sophie to help her was “Well, that’s a rather rash decision, maybe he should’ve tried to contact his brother first”. But to put yourself in her place back then, she really didn’t have the luxury of waiting before her reputation would’ve been completely ruined. And this novel drops you right into that setting, so you can feel how scared and upset Sophie must’ve been, and why she makes the decisions that she does.
I really and truly didn’t know how the triangle between the two brothers and Sophie would work out, or even who she should really choose until the very end. I agreed with Sophie’s choice and reasoning, and felt the story ended as it should.
I also think that the secondary characters were excellent in this book. They played such an important role in the story it’s almost difficult to remember they’re only secondary.