Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Blog Tour Review: The Painted Castle by Kristy Cambron

From the Back Cover:

A lost painting of Queen Victoria. A library bricked off from the world. Three women, separated by time, whose lives are irrevocably changed.

When art historian Keira Foley is hired to authenticate a painting at a centuries-old East Suffolk manor, she hopes this is just the thing to get her career and life back on track. But from the time she arrives at Parham Hill Estate and begins working alongside rumored art thief Emory Scott, she’s left with far more questions than answers. Could this lost painting of Queen Victoria be a duplicate of the original Winterhalter masterpiece, and if so, who is the artist?

As Keira begins to unravel the mystery behind the portrait of the queen, two women emerge from the estate’s forgotten past. In Victorian England, talented sketch artist Elizabeth Meade is engaged to Viscount Huxley, then owner of Parham Hill. While there, master portrait artist Franz Winterhalter takes her under his wing, but Elizabeth’s real motive for being at Parham Hill has nothing to do with art. She’s determined to avenge her father’s brutal murder—even if it means feigning an engagement to the very man she believes committed the crime.

A century later, Amelia Woods—a WWII widow who has turned Parham Hill Estate and its beloved library into a boarding school for refugee children—receives military orders to house a troop of American pilots. She is determined that the children in her care remain untouched by the war, but it’s proving difficult with officers taking up every square inch of their world… and one in particular vying for a space in her long shut up heart.

Set in three time periods—the rapid change of Victorian England, the peak of England’s home front tensions at the end of World War II, and modern day—The Painted Castle unfolds a story of heartache and hope and unlocks secrets lost for generations, just waiting to be found.

My Thoughts:

This is a heartwarming story entwining three different generations in three different time periods, and at the heart of each is the same special library and the mysterious portrait it holds. The portrait mystery is based on a real portrait of a young Queen Victoria painted by Franz Winterhalter, known as "the secret picture," featuring Victoria in a more informal pose for her husband, Prince Albert, and the mystery of who painted the copy of it and how it came to be walled away in a secret library drives the present-day story.

It's rare that I enjoy all of the story lines equally in a multi-stranded story. I usually find myself drawn more to the past, but in this case I was hooked on all three. Three women trying to pick up the pieces of their lives after tragedy and heartache, trying to find themselves and their place in changing worlds. I was so engrossed and so anxious to see how each story would play out that I did not want to put the book down. The suspense, the anticipation, the romance--all struck a perfect balance. And it was an emotional read on many levels. This is inspirational fiction, but that theme is very light. It's practically nonexistent in the two past story lines but it's surprisingly more relevant in the present-day story, and I thought that a nice twist.

I'm tempted to rate this five stars just on all the feels alone, but I can't overlook how rushed the resolutions of each story line felt. Endings can make or break a book. The ending certainly doesn't break this one, but after so much delicious buildup, I would have liked a little more time spent on wrapping up each story. Some things took place off the page and I questioned why the reader wasn't made privy to those plot points as they happened. And I still have some questions, particularly about Viscount Huxley. It's still a satisfying ending; I just wanted a little more insight and closure to make it perfect.

I have not read the first two books in this series, and I did not feel this story suffered at all for not having read them as they are only loosely connected, but I definitely want to read them now! The Painted Castle is rich, emotional storytelling, weaving together three eras and illuminating how, though times change, the human experience doesn't. Highly recommended for romantic historical fiction lovers.

My Rating:  4 Stars out of 5

The Painted Castle is on a blog tour!


  1. I found this story fascinating and I also enjoyed the settings and time frames of each story.

  2. Nothing wrong with voting on feelings! ;) I'm really glad to know coming into this on the third book is OK because this is on my list but I haven't read the first two books so I feel better jumping into this. Thank you for being on the tour! Sara @ TLC Book Tours


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