cover image A Figure of Love

A Figure of Love

Minerva Spencer. Crooked Sixpence, $9.95 trade paper (330p) ISBN 978-1-951662-02-8

Spencer’s appealing if predictable second Academy of Love Regency closely follows the formula set up in Music of Love, where a reclusive but wealthy man falls for a resilient woman valiantly trying to escape her abuser through plying an artistic trade. Gareth Lockheart, an orphan who has acquired enough wealth to rise through social ranks, hires Serena Lombard, a sculptor, gardener, and single mother, to oversee the transformation of the grounds at his country estate, promising a substantial salary and full creative freedom. Attraction simmers between employer and employee from the beginning, culminating in emotional sex. But their budding relationship is jeopardized when Serena’s rapist, Etienne Bardot, arrives in town, blackmailing Serena and threatening their 10-year-old son, Oliver, the result of his assault on Serena. Now Gareth will do whatever it takes to defend her. While themes of sexual violence repeatedly cast a pall on the romance, Spencer’s talent for creating vividly realized settings and realistic characters continue to impress. Series readers will be pleased, if not wowed. (Self-published)