She couldn’t help but think that this was how Persephone would be dragged into the underworld in 1880s London: not screaming, not twisting wildly, but painfully composed while Hades wore a velvet jacket.
Portrait of a Scotsman is the third book in Evie Dunmore’s League of Extraordinary Women series. The series follows Oxford suffragettes in Victorian England as they strive to strike a balance between putting 1880’s gentlemen in their place but also ensnaring their hearts.
Disclaimer: When I wrote this review, I hadn’t yet read the first two books (Bringing Down the Duke and A Rogue of My Own) yet, though that didn’t mar my enjoyment of this instalment one bit!
The suffragette and the Scotsman
Against a backdrop of art classes, gallery exhibitions, and debates on the merits of photography, Hattie Greenfield—Oxford student, suffragette, and banking heiress—gets duped into marriage with Lucian Blackstone, the new businessman on the block with a decidedly unscrupulous reputation.
Hattie attempts to use all of her will and wiles to free herself from this sticky predicament and live a life of her own choosing. But a trip up to Scotland reveals a new side to the Lord of the Underworld that she married, and she begins to think, perhaps she might stay after all?
Yeah, smut is great, but...
Portrait of a Scotsman is different from other romance novels I’ve picked up in that it’s peppered not only with wicked, steamy love scenes, but also relevant, real-world discussions. The bits of dialogue I found myself most engaged with were the discussions on mining conditions, income inequality, and women’s votes. (Yes, smut is great, but have you ever met a book hero who has his finger on the pulse of society?)
Throughout the text, Hattie and her suffragette friends draw parallels between her marriage and Hades and Persephone, as well as Beauty and the Beast. But I appreciated that despite the obvious sweet-Beauty-rehabilitating-the-vicious-Beast dynamic, neither Hattie nor Lucian give up their true nature or independence to make their union work.
While their sojourn in Scotland certainly brought them to a better understanding of each other’s character, the book didn’t romanticise the circumstances that threw them together, and made sure they had enough space, time, and distance to form a real relationship beyond it.
Romance & women’s rights are not mutually exclusive
While I do feel that perhaps the story could have been tighter and the chemistry just a bit more intense in some places, Portrait of a Scotsman was still a delightful read in the middle of lockdown!
I think, in recent times, there seems to be a perception that one can’t be a feminist if one likes romance novels, or enjoys being ravished by attractive men, or is willing to patiently teach a man to check his privilege. Evie Dunmore’s idea to put all of these elements together in a romance novel series about suffragettes challenges that.
I wouldn’t mind spending the rest of my time at home getting to know the other members of the League of Extraordinary Women!
Reina is a professional content writer for lifestyle, health, and most things geek. When not at work, she reads everything from YA dystopia, to history books, to tarot cards. Support her lifelong love affair with words over at reinabambao.com!
[Thoughts and views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Fully Booked. Then again, we love our authors anyway.]