A Figure of Love (The Academy of Love Book 2)
Minerva Spencer, author
Gareth Lockheart is one of the richest men in England, but it will take more than money for the reclusive eccentric to gain entrée into the corridors of power; it will also take a proper country estate and an aristocratic wife with impeccable connections. Gareth is determined to find the right woman the same way he does everything in his life: using logic and mathematics. Serena Lombard might be the widow of a duke’s son, but she’s always existed on the ton’s fringes. The unconventional French émigré has worked hard to create a secure home for her son and has struggled to establish herself as a respected sculptor and landscape gardener. Gareth should have known doing business with a woman would be a mistake, especially an unorthodox, opinionated, and far too appealing French widow who manages to destroy his iron-clad ability to concentrate without even trying. Serena loves the project the wealthy industrialist has hired her to do; it’s too bad the man himself is so remote and unreadable. Not to mention distracting, gorgeous, and utterly captivating. The only thing the two opposites can agree on is that they should avoid becoming entangled with one another—no matter how difficult that proves to be. But when Serena’s dangerous past catches up with her, it is Gareth she turns to for help and he doesn’t hesitate to give it. But can a man who needs order like other men need air give himself up to the most unpredictable emotion of all: Love?
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)