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A thrilling hybrid of mystery, romance, and 19th century scene-setting -- sure to enthrall fans of historical fiction.

Publisher's Weekly Booklife Prize

A ship’s captain. A crime. A secret. What would you do to claim the position in society that has been stolen from you?

Lady Catherine, banished to the countryside as a useless girl with a lame leg, got her revenge by playing a dangerous game. And now it will ruin her. When the old earl dies, his only child feels no sorrow. The earldom will now revert to the crown and Lady Catherine will continue to live life exactly as she pleases. But when she learns that she is the heir to a secret family title, everything changes. Marriage had once seemed unnecessary and out of the question; now it is the only thing she wants. The two men in her life both need her influence and wealth. Whom shall she choose? The kind but secretive Captain Avebury? Or the notorious Sir Lyle, the handsome smuggler? Both men deal very differently with honor. And when Catherine’s secret self-destructs, which man can be trusted to save her? The Portrait is about a strong woman, foolish decisions, trust, and the definition of honor. Fans of Jane Austen’s independent women will recognize in Catherine a voice which will not be silenced.

Reviews

“An enthralling Regency Romance, The Portrait proves a notable debut for Cassandra Austen in a genre which often suffers from a lack of originality and a heavy reliance on well-worn tropes. Beautifully written in prose that vibrantly capture the essence of her characters, the dashing Captain  Avebury and the manipulative Sir Lyle, prove the perfect foils to the Countess St. Clair’s spirited questing nature as secrets from their pasts threaten the future they hope to build.” — BookViral

The Portrait is beautifully written with interesting, intelligent characters and a captivating storyline. Catherine is a fascinating leading lady, quite unlike most romantic heroines. She is all contradictions: crippled but independent, strong but insecure, bitter but vulnerable. Avebury too is a well-rounded character. Cassandra Austen captures the atmosphere of eighteenth-century England quite brilliantly. Her descriptions of the people and the places are evocative, bringing to life her characters and settings. This book is a must-read for lovers of historical romance.” — Heather Stockard for Readers’ Favorite

“Cassandra Austen’s The Portrait is an intriguing novel set in England in an era when being a woman means you have to defer to the men in your family. This is especially true in aristocratic families where women are generally not allowed to inherit the family title. Most women of this era accepted their fate but not Lady Catherine. A strong woman with unorthodox ideas, she finds herself in a situation where the definition of propriety and trust is being challenged. Author Cassandra Austen brings us back to this age and it is a beautiful experience. With vivid descriptions and witty dialogues, The Portrait could make the reader forget that he or she is now living in the internet age as they journey back to the 1800s when life was just as complicated but in completely different ways.” — Maria Beltran for Readers’ Favorite

“I liked the diversity of the situation for a Regency novel, as our heroine Catherine is born with a lame leg which puts her at even further a disadvantage in society. Author Cassandra Austen weaves some clever modern sensibilities into a classic tale, still giving it that Jane Austen atmosphere but with a strong female lead and ideas of ambition and independence that were desirable, but less common at the time of the book’s setting. The character development of the male leads was suitably deep for the style of story, and I enjoyed their secrets being slowly revealed so that the reader can enjoy the mystery along with Catherine. The more I read of Austen’s sharp and engaging prose, the more I was swept into an authentically beautiful yet flawed world of high society, with cinematic descriptions and engaging dialogue that make The Portrait a highly recommended read.” — K.C. Finn for Readers’ Favorite