Kaye, Marguerite, The Beauty Within (Armstrong Sisters, Book 3), (Richmond, Surrey: Harlequin (UK) Limited, 2013).
Title: The Beauty Within (Armstrong Sisters, Book 3)
Author: Marguerite Kaye
Issues: Body Image; Gendered Expectations (Women); Self Esteem
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder
Considered the plain, clever one in her family, Lady Cressida Armstrong knows her father has given up on her ever marrying. But who needs a husband when science is the only thing to set Cressie’s pulse racing?
Disillusioned artist Giovanni di Matteo is setting the ton abuzz with his expertly executed portraits. Once his art was inspired; now it’s only technique. Until he meets Cressie….
Challenging, intelligent and yet insecure, Cressie is the one whose face and body he dreams of capturing on canvas. In the enclosed, intimate world of his studio, Giovanni rediscovers his passion as he awakens hers…
When I wrote my Princes of the Desert historical mini-series a couple of years ago, it was published with the strapline ‘Where English Roses meet Desert Sheikhs’. The English Roses referred to were sisters, Lady Celia and Lady Cassandra, the eldest daughters of Lord Armstrong, a distinguished British diplomat. There were five Armstrong sisters in all, and it was always my intention to tell each of their stories eventually.
I had always envisaged Cressie as the bookish, intense sister (being the eldest of four sisters myself, I know how readily labels such as this are applied!). In an age where such bluestocking traits were not only discouraged but frowned upon, especially in young women of marriageable age, Cressie is a intellectual with a serious hang-up about her looks. Giovanni is a brooding and fatally attractive Italian artist, touched by genius, with a sordid and shameful past. Hardly the most obvious of matches, but definitely one which will generate a lot of sparks.
Cressie and Giovanni’s story touches on a number of seemingly conflicting concepts – truth versus beauty, science versus art logic versus instinct, duty versus freedom – but it’s not about any of that. It’s about two people from different worlds who have an irresistible connection and who, in attempting to find themselves, find each other. What could be more romantic than that?
I fully intend to complete the Armstrong sisters cycle by writing Caro and Cordelia’s stories some time in the near future. But for the time being I hope you enjoy Cressie’s tale.