• Portrait of a Lady

  • The Gentleman Courtesans, Book 1
  • By: Victoria Vale
  • Narrated by: Darcy Stark
  • Length: 8 hrs and 38 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (55 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Miss Evelyn Coburn refuses to die a virgin. At the age of five-and-twenty, she has never even been kissed properly. Upon receiving her inheritance, she decides to investigate rumors of a secret London agency which provides the services of male courtesans. Someone to teach her the secrets of the bedchamber and do away with the nuisance of her maidenhead is all Evelyn anticipates from such an arrangement.

The Honourable Hugh Radcliffe is in dire financial straits after being disowned by his family for pursuing a career as a portraitist. When he’s asked to go into business to form The Gentleman Courtesans, he agrees, needing the income until his work is accepted into the Royal Academy of the Arts’ annual Summer Exhibition - an event that could earn him the exposure needed to launch him to fame.

The arrangement with Evelyn is only supposed to be temporary, and Hugh is determined for her to be his last paramour. But when physical attraction evolves into a deeper connection, she becomes the muse for his greatest work of art yet.

With their affair coming to an end, Hugh will be forced to acknowledge that Evelyn is the key to his success as well as his joy. Will their newfound happiness end when their arrangement does, or will what began as a matter of lust and convenience lead to true and lasting love?

©2019 Victoria Vale (P)2019 Viotoria Vale

What listeners say about Portrait of a Lady

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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Starts slow but worth the wait! 👍🏻👍🏻

There are a lot of boring, get to know the characters, blah blah in the beginning. I wasn’t sure which one was going to be the center of the book’s attention for quite awhile. But once the story emerged I was completely immersed. This is a gentleman and a virgin love story. Well thought out plot and a happy ending for the lovers BUT not the end of the story!
Great narration by Darcy Stark. A man, BTW.

I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review. My review is HONEST.
👍🏻👍🏻 TWO THUMBS UP!!

3 people found this helpful

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EXCELLENT START TO A NEW SERIES!

I absolutely love it! I actually enjoy everything this author writes! The narration was awesome. It will keep you entertained. The author does a great job with the character builds and plot. I have read numerous books by this author, including The Villain Duology Series, and enjoyed them all! I look forward to reading more books from this author, I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

3 people found this helpful

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A very entertaining story, engaging characters.

I did wonder if I was going to enjoy this story but once I’d met Evelyn and Hugh, I was hooked. They were such a lovely couple, Evelyn was sweet and shy at first but gradually came to gain confidence in herself and this was due to Hugh. He was so caring and understanding of Evelyn’s sensibilities. They were so ideally suited, two artists of different media. Of course, nothing runs smoothly and this is the case here. This was a most engaging read. I enjoyed the descriptions of Vauxhall and also Hugh’s journey as an artist. Loved the ending! The narrator read the story using different voices and really brought each scene to life. It always amazes me how listening to a story can put a different perspective on situations, as compared to reading the story.

3 people found this helpful

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good read!!

I Love Victoria Vale's books....and fell in love with Darcey Starks voice as Adam in "The Villain" .
This book is a lovely twist to the typical romance novels ive read with Gentlemen being the courtesans and a great story to start off these books i found myself taking in the interactions of the other courtesans because i cant wait to read the next one!!! a winner that im sure i will read again....you wont be disappointed!

3 people found this helpful

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OMG, you have to hear Darcy Stark

If ever you want to listen to a book just to hear the narrator, this is it. First, it is Victoria Vale's story so you already know it is steamy, erotic, and just downright run to read...now add a sexy voice to the mix and I dare you to listen to this without been a teensy bit turned on. What am I saying? This whole book is a turn on!

Absolutely recommend this book to anyone who wants hours of enjoyment.

2 people found this helpful

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Heartwarming love story!

I asked to receive this Audible book and voluntarily wrote this unbiased review. Victoria Vale has written a heartwarming and well developed story of two people that have given up on finding love. Hugh is a very caring man and feels something for Evelyn that he has never felt for any other woman. Evelyn feels herself falling in love with Hugh, but that isn't part of their contract. If course, they don't talk about this and feelings are hurt. Now Hugh must win her back. Both have families that have hurt them. However, they have good friends that help them. Darcy does an excellent job of storytelling and brings the story to life. I highly recommend this Audible book. Every woman needs a Hugh to make her feel extra special.

2 people found this helpful

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Another Victoria Vale winner!

Victoria Vale has done it again. Although this is basically an historical regency romance, Ms Vale makes it something special. The plot is intriguing and different. It is definitely setting up another series. I very much enjoyed the book, and I look forward to the following books.

The narrator was great as always.

I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

2 people found this helpful

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Started Slow but picked up speed

I got this story via audiobook boom and this is my voluntary review. The narrator was spot on. The story took about 4 chapters to get interesting but after that, it went at a nice pace and made it to the finish line. The H/h meeting was interesting. I loved the professor who encouraged the H to do his best work. The part about drawing hands was a good touch to add depth to the story. I enjoyed the entire story but could have done without some parts. Overall it was worth listening to and was not overly boring. The accents were good without being so precise that you couldn't understand what they were saying. The friends who made up the gentlemen really did perform a good service. Most books talk about the women who performed this service. This was an interesting take on the men.

2 people found this helpful

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Steamy!!

Thank you Victoria for a terrific start to a series. This is HOT and also heartfelt. You feel for both Hugh and Evie who have been pushed aside by their families and society. That they find each other and fulfill their lives together makes us feel all warm and mushy...in a good way.

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  • JK
  • 08-19-19

Can he paint my portrait

Wowza. I read this book but ladies...you HAVE to listen to it! Darcy Stark never disappoints. I love how Darcy says her name “EVE-A-LYN”. I really feel like I’m swept back in time when I listen to the books. This new series is such a fantastic take on the courtesan tale and to hear it read to you is such an adventure. I felt so many emotions with this story and laughed, cried and cheered. Hugh helped her flourish like a flower. I love when he tells her what she is made of and that he “sees her”. UUGHHH!!! And my heart was breaking (and tears flowing) at one point but Victoria gave me the grand happy ever I adore! This book is steamy, funny, exciting! I loved listening to it!

2 people found this helpful

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  • Bev
  • 07-15-20

brilliant

As always never fails in her books. looking forward to the next one. thank you x

1 person found this helpful

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  • Kate @MLHearingThings
  • 09-17-19

A saucy Regency romp with engaging characters

Portrait of a Lady is a character-driven romp through Regency London, beginning and ending with delightfully indecent proposals. It sets up this new series nicely and introduces us to the five friends we will come to know as the Gentleman Courtesans.

Although I would say that it is Regency-style rather than a true period novel, it is easy and engaging nonetheless. It is not faithful to Regency language but it does still convey a strong sense of the era and uses it as the canvas upon which the characters are brought to life.

Whilst the relationship between Hugh and Evelyn begins rather unconventionally, it progresses far more predictably and - in line with the format - sweeps toward a romantic denouement almost befitting of a Disney princess. That it manages this without being so insufferably sweet or eye-roll-inducing as to wake my natural cynicism made it a very pleasurable novel to listen to. Though Portrait of a Lady is not billed as the sort of 'Dark Regency' of my previous book by Vale, it still contains enough shade to feel realistic in a way that many of the sunnier romances seldom do.

There is a tenderness to the relationship between the protagonists which drives the listener to root for them from quite early on. Evelyn's shyness is balanced with a determination that is not often found in an ingénue, and there is an openness to Hugh's character that remains evident even when he is deceiving himself. Their connection as friends felt sincere, as did their attraction, and the steamier scenes between the pair shared both characters' perspective of their growing intimacy.

Darcy Stark does a great job performing this Regency audiobook, handling the myriad characters well. He has a pleasingly languorous style which well suits a bored aristocrat, and juggles the male, female, gentle, and working class accents without compromising their clarity. Sometimes his 'aristocratic' accent is rather unusual and affected, but that in itself is not inauthentic.

This audiobook will sit quite happily in my digital library alongside similar offerings by Tessa Dare, though I think it would scandalise even the ladies of Spindle Cove. There is every chance that I will listen to it again, and I will keep an eye - and ear - out for the rest of the Gentleman Courtesan series. I am already wondering what the other boys have been up to... I'd recommend it to anyone who enjoys the saucier kind of historical romance.

*I received this audiobook free of charge in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-26-21

Light read

While I really wanted to love it - I found it didn’t reach any great heights - after reading Victoria Vales -The Villain Duology I felt it fell short .