It feels to me as though I’ve read many a romance where the lead or leads are writers or musicians but nowhere nearly as many featuring heroes and heroines who are visual artists. Off the top of my head, I recall that Sherry Thomas has a secondary character who’s a painter, the second Mackenzie novel has an overly macho hero who paints as well, Karen Ranney has a tortured painter heroine, and Benedict, the bland hero from An Offer From a Gentleman also wields a brush. I can’t recall any potters, glass blowers, or metalsmiths which may mean nothing other than the fact that I’m 62.
I feel sure there are lovely romances starring visual artists–what are they? Share your favorites!
P.S. We do have a tag for reviews with artists leads here.
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The MMC in Courtney Milan’s The Suffragette Scandal, book 4 in her wonderful Brothers Sinister series, is a metal worker and makes a small iron sculpture for the FMC. Both lead character are wonderful.
Yes. If I remember correctly, he lost the use of one hand.
In Grace Burrowes’s Lady Jenny’s Christmas, both leads are painters. The hero is also a nude model for artists.
In addition, in Gabriel: Lord of Regrets, Grace Burrowes features another painter, the heroine Polonaise Hunt. She and Gabriel first appear in Beckman: Lord of Sins.
In Lady Maggie’s Secret Scandal, the hero Benjamin Hazlit is a private investigator whose skill at sketching serves him in good stead. I can’t remember if his cousin, Archer Portmaine, also sketches, but they do work together. Archer gets his own investigation and romance in Morgan and Archer.
in The Truth about Dukes, book five in the Rogues to Riches series, the heroine Constance Wentworth is a painter. She first appears in the beginning book of the series, My One and Only Duke.
Oak Dorning, the hero of A Lady’s Dream Come True, is another Burrowes painter. He marries the widow of a prominent artist after they deal with some art shenanigans.
The heroine of Miss Devoted wants to be an artist, and the hero works as an artist’s model, so there are initially some parallels to Lady Jenny’s Christmas. The book is the sixth in the Mischief In Mayfair series.
Of those not mentioned yet, I’d suggest The Portrait by Megan Chance which is an historical romance published in the mid-90s. Both the hero and heroine are artists and the hero suffers from a mental illness.
If Andy Warhol Had a Girlfriend by Alison Pace is a contemporary romance/women’s fiction novel about a gallery owner who has to accompany a famous artist on a art fair tour.
Painted by the Sun by Elizabeth Grayson is another historical. The heroine is a photographer who travels the west taking photos of people while searching for someone from her past.
I saw Chance’s The Portrait while doing “artist” tags – it looks really unusual, especially because of its setting (pre-Civil War New York)
Also we have a separate tag for photographers: https://allaboutromance.com/review-tag/photographer/
Stephanie Laurens has several novels featuring artists. Gerard Debbington first appears in A Rake’s Vow; he is the heroine’s younger brother. Vane Cynster and Patience Debbington are the hero and heroine. The book is the second novel in the original Cynster series.
Gerrard Debbington has his own book, The Truth about Love. It is as much a murder mystery as a romance, and one of Laurens better efforts. It also can easily be read as a stand-alone, which is not always true of her later books.
Vane Cynster meets Patience and Gerrard under the aegis of two older women, who leave the Bellamy Hall estate to Gregory Cynster in Foes, Friends and Lovers. (Lamest title in the Laurens oeuvre— sigh.) The book includes four painters, a glass blower, an instrument maker, woodworkers, a sculptor, and a metal sculptor among the large supporting cast. I loved the Bellamy Hall concept, but the book is kind of anemic. It does not have the sustained ratcheting of tension that The Truth about Love has.
The Obsessions of Lord Godfrey Cavanaugh is about a connection of the Cynster family who is an art authenticator. At the end of the novel a younger character, Carter Cynster, who has been mentioned in other books, is mentioned as an artist. Chances are he will reappear, possibly with a book or novella of his own.
In Kelly Bowen’s novella Lady in Red both H and h are painters. She pretends to be a man to get a commission to paint a church together with the H who initially believes her to be a boy. They get to know each other through their painting and the greater understanding between them leads to a melding of their painting styles. Lovely book.
Another historical with two painters as the main characters is Mary Jo Putney’s novel River of Fire. The hero begins work for a prominent painter and his daughter, but he enters the household under false pretenses. Nevertheless, art is in the foreground of this book. There are more painters as secondary characters. It is the sixth book in Putney’s Fallen Angels set, but it can be read separately.
The heroine in Sunshine for Christmas likes to sketch. The hero in this novella first appeared in The Rake, but Putney decided to give him a second chance.
Beau Crusoe by Carla Kelly – botanical painter heroine
Lord Perfect by Loretta Chase – painter and art teacher heroine
Now You See Her by Linda Howard – painter heroine, with a paranormal twist
Puppy Christmas by Lucy Gilmore – illustrator hero
Rocky Mountain Cowboy Christmas by Katie Ruggle – metal sculptor heroine
Shame by Ainsley Booth – sculptor heroine
I forgot about Beau Crusoe! I love that book.
Jayne Ann Krentz also has a botanical artist heroine in the Amanda Quick novel Surrender. (Also, Stella Riley has a secondary character in The Montesoro Legacy who is a botanical artist, while the hero, the youngest Brandon brother, is a painter.)
Krenz does like photographers. In the Burning Cove series, the heroine in Close Up, by Amanda Quick, is a photographer. Quick is also the pseudonym used for Second Sight, an Arcane Society historical with a photographer heroine.
My recollection is that the Guinevere Jones books, written as Jayne Castle, have a secondary character who is an abstract painter. He appears in more than one book as his storyline develops.
Lady Xenobia India St.Clair is a decorator, which in my opinion, falls under artist. A decorator can create visual magic in a space. Besides that, Three Weeks with Lady X is a great book!
I love that book and the next one, Four Nights with the Duke. Both are exceptionally witty, sexy, and feature professional heroines.
If you’re in the mood for a dark contemporary romance, Amelia Wilde’s The Collector trilogy (DARK REIGN, SWEET MERCY, and LAST RESORT) is the story of an art collector (with a very dark, dysfunctional past) and the artist whose work he collects and is obsessed with until he eventually “collects” the artist too. As I said, this is a dark romance, so expect all the triggers. However, I think Wilde (one of my favorite dark romance writers) always does a good job in describing the creative process and how an artist’s background, style, and preferences communicate themselves onto their preferred medium. In The Collector books, the heroine’s favorite subject is the ocean, and she paints it in various styles and conditions–all clearly described by Wilde. I do read quite a bit of dark romance and it does seem that creative types (artists, writers, dancers, musicians) dominate the heroine pool in that genre.
Sydnam Butler, the hero in Mary Balogh’s Simply Love is a painter who has to relearn his craft after the loss of his right arm and eye as a result of battle wounds. His paintings with his non-dominant hand were described by the author as suggestive of early impressionism. Interesting because it is said that JMW Turner suffered cataracts and this greatly changed his style in his later work.
Butler is first introduced in A Summer to Remember. That is the prequel to the Bedwyn series. I thought Simply Love was remarkable book for the way it brought up and explored issues that formed the main characters and their situation.
Lady Morgan Bedwyn, the heroine in Slightly Tempted, also paints for her own enjoyment and contemplation.
Joel Cunningham appears in the first Westcott novel and is the hero of the second, Someone to Hold. He teaches art at the school where he was educated and is establishing himself as a portrait painter while he falls in love with Camille Westcott. There’s also a nice bit of poetic justice in the story for Camille’s former fiancé, who unceremoniously dumped her after the facts of her parentage were revealed.
Only Love and The Secret Pearl are my two favourite books by Mary Balogh and I have read all of her books, including her earliest. Both OL snd TSP deal with diffucult and/or disparaged topics but both are supremely wonderful reads.
Yes, that is one of Balogh’s strengths as a writer.
And… staring at my bookshelves, I realized I neglected to mention Agnes Keeping in Only Enchanting, who is an artist. That book is the fourth book in the Survivors’ series, featuring Flavian.
Plus, the first Survivors’ book, The Arrangement, has a heroine who is a caricaturist. I don’t know why I forgot Sophia.
I hope I have not left out any more artists in Balogh’s booklist, but if I have, I am sure someone else will remember.
The first one that comes to my mind is Heart Mate by Robin D. Owens. The hero is a blacksmith and creates a necklace for the heroine.
I know I’ve read more romances that featured some kind of artist over the years but can’t remember them at the moment.
I don’t know about favorites but at one point in time or another I’ve read and enjoyed the following.
Facing West by Lucy Lennox is about a tattoo artist who meets a small town doctor
Pins and Needles by AJ Thomas also has a tattoo artist in it
Crazy For You by Jennifer Crusie – she’s a high school art teacher
Born In series by Nora Roberts has glass blower and commercial artist who used be a fine artist in a previous life
Josh Lanyon’s Art of Murder series are all based on crimes surrounding works of art
Natural Born Charmer by SEP – she’s an itinerant portrait painter
Thomas Elkins series by NR Walker – both MCs are architects
No Darkness for Love by Barbara Cartland has an MC who’s an impressionist painter
The Spring at.Moss Hill by Carla Neggers (Swift River Valley #6) — the heroine illustrates children’s books
The Angel by Carla Neggers — the heroine is a folklorist and illustrator
The Carriage House by Carla Neggers — heroine is a graphic designer
Saint’s Gate by Carla Neggers (the first Sharpe and Donovan book) — Emma Sharpe is a specialist in art crimes for the FBI, and subsequent books in the series touch on art crimes
Cold Ridge by Carla Neggers (the first in the Cold Ridge series) — the heroine is a photographer
Lucy Parker’s first book Artistic License by Elle Pierson. Even funnier than her subsequent books although set in New Zealand, rather than England.
The heroine of Liz Carlyle’s My False Heart is a painter, and the hero of Stella Riley’s The Montesoro legacy is a painter.
A few I’ve enjoyed are Nardi de Saint Vallier, a sculptor in Bliss by Judith Ivory and Leila Beaumont, a painter in Captives of the Night by Loretta Chase
Jonny Mainwaring is painter in The Labors of Lord Perry Canvendish by Joanna Chambers. He appears as a side character in at least one other of the series novellas, and here he gets his own story. I gave it an A.
In Risk Taker by Lily Morton, Ivo is a famous photographer, but also a well respected artist. And in Milo by the same author the main character restores old artwork.
One of the main characters in a book I recently read, Back Home by R.J. Scott, is a wooodworker.
In The Best Man’s Problem by Sera Tiano (Caz reviewed it here) has a famous photographer as a main character.
Oh – I forgot photographers! Lance in Long Winter – which I just reviewed for the TBR Challenge is a photographer and model – it’s not such a bit thing in that book, but I’m currently reading book two, Signs of Spring, and I think it’s about to have more of a role to play in that.
Jennifer Ashley, in another Mackenzie novel, has a photographer heroine. The Duke’s Perfect Wife is the fourth book in the Mackenzie/McBrides series. Like the second book, Lady Isabella’s Scandalous Marriage (to a Mackenzie who is a painter), the book about the duke is a Victorian romance.
Alec Mackenzie’s Art of Seduction is the ninth book in the same series. He poses as an art instructor and gives the heroine lessons while trying to locate his brother Will. This is one of the Georgian books in the series.
In Kelly Jensen’s Sundays With Oliver the love interest makes detailed miniature replicas of famous buildings. Ira Doyle in C.S. Poe’s Memento Mori series is a forensic artist, but he’s more than a ‘jobbing’ artist – it’s clear he’s very talented. I’m sure I’ve come across a potter recently but I can’t remember which book it was in!
The first I recall is not a favorite, but was memorable. Early in my romance reading in the 1990s I read A Scandalous Portrait by Violet Hamilton, which has an artist heroine. Unfortunately, the “hero” was on the rape-y side and the story is memorable because the heroine took revenge for his early actions by painting the “scandalous portrait” of the title.
A search in my old BYRON database brings up Now You See Her by Linda Howard and Captives of the Night by Loretta Chase and The Irish Rogue by Emma Jensen, all of which I only read once too long ago to recall any details.
Meredith Duran’s The Duke of Shadows heroine is also a painter.
I adore that book. And the role the painting plays in it is simply superb.
I particularly liked this book because part of the story is set in India.
The hero is Stella Riley’s Black Madonna is a dishy Italian goldsmith. The heroine in Mia Vincy’s A Scandalous Kind of Duke is a painter.
I remember these because I read them just several weeks ago.
Luciano is one of my favourite Riley heroes.
Luciano is wonderful. I am very curious about the title Stella Riley says will be posted for pre-order by the end of May. One book she has talked about writing is a book about Toby, Luciano’s apprentice.
Another possibility is a book tied to Godard’s group of investigators operating out of Wilfred Street, which as I recall, Riley has also hinted at. She also sent Nell and Harry off to deal with a family problem, so that couple was not in the Midwinter Magic novella. Or the new book might be something entirely different.
And of course, Leo, thee youngest Brandon brother, is a painter.