Desert Isle Keeper
The Lady in Red
The Lady in Red is an absolute delight, y’all. Beyond the annoyance of having the Chris De Burgh song in my head for days afterwards (not a fan, sorry), I loved the time I spent with this book and with these people and was so annoyed when I clicked the last page. My fellow reviewer Alex raved about it and I echo her sentiments.
A bridge between two series, The Lady in Red focuses on Lady Charlotte Beaumont and Flynn Rutledge. Our only connection to the Season for Scandal series is the enigmatic King (whose story I have been needing for three books now, Ms. Bowen!), who provides a way for Lady Charlotte to escape her staid life as an ignored wallflower and bloom as a brilliant artist and strong lady in her own right.
King achieves this by spiriting Charlotte off to the Haverhall School for Young Ladies, which is the focus of the author’s new Devils of Dover series, and with him involved, you can rest assured it is no ordinary finishing school. Instead, the school places highly skilled young women in male-dominated professions. For our story, this means that Charlotte is quickly disguised as a boy and sent to paint in a church. This is where she meets Flynn, as they are set up as partners in the process.
So, to recap, we have a potential Twelfth Night situation on our hands, with the skilled Ms. Bowen at the helm.
Count. Me. In
There are so many lovely layers to this story; points at which it could have leaned into stereotypes or unnecessary drama but does not. For instance, when Flynn finally discovers that his mate ‘Charlie’ is actually Charlotte, he doesn’t pitch a childish fit and make her story all about him. Instead, he pauses and realizes why she made the choice she did because he’s already come to respect her as a human being and as someone he wants in his life. The shift from friend to lover isn’t dramatic, therefore, but instead a natural evolution of a relationship already simmering as the two bring out the best versions of each other.
Oh, and did I mention this is a novella? Ms. Bowen does all of this – builds their connection, makes it believable, does the reveal, makes that grounded, includes a great sex scene, character development, and a happily ever after – in a novella. I’d be angry if I wasn’t so impressed.
If you’ve been hearing about Kelly Bowen’s books, but haven’t dipped your toe in yet, this is a great place to start. There is no real need to know anything about the previous three instalments in the series, and if you love this, then you know you’ve got three titles to glom immediately and can join the rest of us in waiting (im)patiently for A Duke In the Night, due out in February.