When Royal Academy painting student Lucy Coover trips over a naked man passed out in an East End alley, she does the decent thing. She covers him up and fetches help. Trouble is, she can't banish his muscular form from her dreams as easily. Compelled to capture every detail, she creates a stunning portrait but is forced to sell it when the rent comes due. What could be worse than surrendering the very picture of your desire? Meeting the man himself.
Anthony Philby, Duke of Weston, is nobody's muse. Upon discovering the scandalous likeness, he springs into action. His infamous family has been torn apart by shame and secrets, and he can't afford more gossip. Even a whisper may jeopardize his inheritance and his chance at independence. His plan is simple: burn the painting, confront the artist. Or rather, it's simple until he meets Lucy and decides to offer the bewitching young artist a devil's bargain. He'll help save her foreclosed home, if she'll help repair his family’s brutal legacy.
An irresistible passion ignites between them, but when danger strikes, Lucy and Anthony must risk everything... for a love that might destroy them both.
The Duke Undone by Joanna Lowell left me breathless and I give it five out of five stars. I felt for each character from page one, from the desolate, naked drunk our heroine, Lucy Coover, stumbles across in an alleyway to our hero Weston’s long lost sister. Lucy stumbles across this drunk while trying to make it to art classes, covers him up with her shawl and pays an urchin to watch over him. Set in Victorian England, Lucy is part of a group of women at the Royal Academy hoping to make a name for herself in that male dominated institution. She does make it to class in time and at the end of her day commits to paper every last detail of that drunk - every single detail.
Months later, Lucy painted that portrait and sold it to a bored wife of the ton. Her husband recognizes the man’s face in the picture and confronts him. It turns out the man in the alleyway was in fact a duke. Anthony Philby, the 7th Duke of Weston spends his days a sober, somber man and his nights in a drunken haze - more often than not - fully clothed scouring the streets of London looking for his missing sister. He is bound by a codicil in his father’s will that he must prove he is worthy of his inheritance by remaining sober and scandal free until his 30th birthday which is just a short time away.
The fact that his face is recognizable can cost him everything and so he grabs the picture home with him and tracks down the artist based on the signature on the painting and the accompanying letter stating the painter is a visiting artist at the Royal Academy. He is surprised to find that the artist is a woman, one Lucy Coover, and demands any other renderings she may have or he will expose her. She had no idea the drunk she painted was a duke. She only sold it in order to help pay for the house she and her aunt lived in.
They soon discover their lives are connected in many other ways. Lucy and Anthony begin to work together to try to save where Lucy lives, to discover what happened to his sister and to find what sinister forces are at play in keeping Anthony helpless in commanding his own life.
The Duke Undone will keep you on the edge of your seat. I really didn’t know how Lucy and Anthony would get their HEA or if Anthony and his sister would ever be reunited but it all comes together in spectacular fashion in the end. I really enjoyed this book and look forward to reading more books by Joanna Lowell.