Author: Leanna Renee Hieber
Published: November 8, 2011 by Sourcebooks
Source: Publisher via Netgalley
Description: New York City, 1882. Seventeen-year-old Natalie Stewart's latest obsession is a painting of the handsome British Lord Denbury. Something in his striking blue eyes calls to her. As his incredibly life-like gaze seems to follow her, Natalie gets the uneasy feeling that details of the painting keep changing... Jonathan Denbury's soul is trapped in the gilded painting by dark magic while his possessed body commits unspeakable crimes in the city slums. He must lure Natalie into the painting, for only together can they reverse the curse and free his damaged soul.
I Give This ...
This was a different sort of novel and not really what I was expecting. But, that isn't necessarily a bad thing. It was just a harder book for me to get into that most.
I think I had a hard time identifying with Natalie, which kind of surprised me. Normally when I read historical fiction the characters are royalty or of higher class. While Natalie doesn't quite fit that picture, she's close and associates with a lot of people from the higher class. But instead of being likeable, she came across as being really naive and way too trusting. I know part of this is because of her sheltered lifestyle because of her mutism. But, it actually felt like more of a personality flaw.
I did really enjoy the Victorian feel to the book. Even the the book is set in New York, I actually had to remind myself constantly that it wasn't in England. I liked the mystery and magic woven into the story. Plus the idea of someone trapped in a painting was interesting. I also really liked the idea that Natalie was able to step into that painting and gather clues.
I did feel the the curse was a little odd. The way it was undone seemed extremely simple and a little silly (basically just repeating specific parts of the curse back to the person who placed it). I also had a hard time believing that the person could walk around in Lord Denbury's body and no one was the wiser. It didn't feel explained very well.
I enjoyed the romance as well. Even though it had the typical love at first sight thing going for it, it felt more real and natural. There's also a character that pokes fun at it. She basically says that they are young and so many things could happen, and not say that they couldn't live without the other person. I was happy to see the romance recognized for what it is and what it could be.