Hattie Greenfield is a bluestocking, a woman who has thoughts about her independence and rights. She, along with her friends, belong to the Women’s Suffrage Movement. An organization that is hoping to overturn and reform women’s rights in their homes, as well as being given the right to vote. Hattie does have some form of independence as one in a class of female scholars at Oxford and her father gives her a little bit of freedom. However, when she ditches her guard to take a tour in the home of an unmarried gentleman, Lucian Blackstone, she starts the ball rolling in a direction she doesn’t intend. She finds Mr. Blackstone enigmatic and interesting and she is drawn to him, but when she “leans in” to him to give him a kiss they are discovered and her actions prove to much for her father to overlook. She ends up married to Lucian Blackstone.
Hattie is the daughter of a banker in a family full of business minds. Because of her dyslexia she finds herself shuffled into the “pretty” catagory by her family and her intelligence is discounted. Mind you, she’s smart enough to be taking classes at Oxford, but her inability to write things down without getting numbers and letters confused makes her father think she’s not bright. Hattie is also a victim of circumstance. Her father has built his wealth but they are not in the higher levels of society and her marriage to a lord is of the utmost importance to help elevate her family’s station. When she is seen giving Mr. Blackstone a peck on the lips, in front of a group of people no less, she is forced to accept his hand in marriage and despite her fascination with him she has a lot to learn about her husband and his intentions.
Lucian comes from a coal mining family background. Her mother after being knocked up by the lord of the manor (who probably raped her) comes back to live in the coal mining town she is from, which is where Lucian starts his life. When he’s a young teen he becomes homeless and lives on the streets of London and talks his way into a shop keeper’s job, and his upward trajectory is started. He never forgets where he came from and who the man was who took advantage of his mother. The rest of his life is built for him to make money so he has the chance to take him down. So you can see that Hattie has a lot to deal with when she becomes married to Mr. Blackstone.
I have been fascinated with this era and have found this series to be so interesting! I think Portrait of a Scotsman portrays that world in black and white, and what it means to be a woman in it regardless of how much money you have. Until Hattie’s world changed by marrying Lucian Blackstone she was just going through the motions of being in the Suffrage Movement. Her handoff from her father to a husband without being given a choice brought the truth home. She had zero control over her own life. So what is Hattie to do about it? You’ll just have to read this riveting novel yourself to find out.
Never fear, there is romance in Portrait of a Scotsman, although Hattie certainly makes Lucian work for it, but for me this story is more revelatory for our main character (and me!) than it is romantic. Yes, there is a lot of heat between Hattie and Lucian, but she is on a journey of self-discovery and just because she’s married doesn’t mean that’s going to be the end of her education. Truth be told her journey does not actually happen alone, her husband learns quite a few things himself, and after quite a bit of conflict they do achieve their happily ever after.
I received a copy of this book through NetGalley and the publisher for an honest review and it was honest.
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