Fans of historical fiction will swoon at Hieber’s 19th-century vision of a budding New York City; Central Park and the Metropolitan feature prominently, as do afternoon tea, sumptuous dresses and dashing dandies. Unfortunately, the diary format feels exceptionally awkward, including entries like, “Have been captured! Will write later!” The true disappointment here, though, is the romance; there’s no chemistry, no questioning, no wondering where the couple stands. It’s a love at first sight affair, which is rarely believable, and Hieber doesn’t succeed in making it ring true.
Seventeen-year-old mute Natalie Stewart has just finished school and returned home to a father who has no idea what to do with her. She becomes interested in her father’s work at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and especially fascinated with a stunning portrait of Lord Denbury, a British lord who’s presumed dead. When she discovers that her connection to the painting is much deeper than a simple appreciation of fine art, she is launched on an adventure that will change her heart and soul irrevocably. (SOURCEBOOKS, Nov., 336 pp., $8.99, PB, ISBN: 9781402260520, 12 & Up)