The Gentleman’s Muse is historical romance is set in 1880 London.
David Lewis is a bright, young, attractive carpenter on a mission to find clerk work in London to help support his twin sister, Bethie. She’s been disgraced by a gentleman who was frustrated that David refused his affections.
While on the fruitless job hunt, David is flagged down by a tall gentleman who offers him a tidy sum to pose as a model for his art. Fooled once by a gentleman, David is loathe to follow Mr. Isak Jensen to his stately townhome, but he’s soon assured by the staff that all is on the up-and-up. And, David can’t very well turn down work if he’s going to help support Bethie and her coming child.
Isak isn’t just inspired by his new muse, he’s attracted to him. And, this is a difficult prospect with his less-than-honorable butler looking for any evidence of impropriety. David returns Isak’s interest, but he’s unwilling to be the pawn of another gentleman—at first. Thing is, when Bethie turns up needing immediate shelter, Isak is smitten by the twins and demands to paint them both. Further, he guesses the deep need that David has, and offers to arrange matters so the Bethie isn’t without resources. It all seems too good to be true, and it is, in a way. David can’t condemn his sister to a loveless fake marriage if there’s any better choice, but staying in London society and maintaining a discreet relationship is also not a viable option. While Isak may escape censure for indecent acts due to his status as brother to an earl, David would surely be imprisoned. Plus, Isak’s elder brother is demanding that Isak marries, or else he’ll be pressed to make life difficult for Isak.
For me, this was a sweet story. Isak and David are a tender couple who struggle with their attraction for a rather short while. The advent of Bethie allows for some cover, but it’s not sufficient. Isak needs to decide what’s truly important to him: his London life, or his desire for David. Because, he really can’t have both. There’s a comedy of errors that erupts when Isak and his brother host a ball, and David and Bethie become unwilling parts of a scandalous intrigue. For their part, they were unwilling, yet Isak recognizes that he has the ability to smooth over the difficulties if only he chooses. And he does choose. The Epilogue provides the closure the story needs, though it’s an HEA by the final chapter’s end too.
I liked the story, and the historical drama if it all. I think Davie, Isak, and Bethie were all well rendered, though I was frustrated by Hucksley and his treatment—mostly because it seemed he was given far too much freedom in the story. It made for an awkward melodrama, and dragged things a bit near the end. That said, this is an enjoyable historical with an interesting story.