Kate Collison’s father, a famous miniaturist, is slowly losing his sight, so his daughter agrees to paint the portrait of Baron de Ceteville for him. All hush-hush, of course, because of course women don’t possess the same talent as men.But the Baron discovers the ruse and, lover of art as he is, agrees to pay their fee, and arranges for Kate to paint his fiancée’s portrait as well, presenting her to the Parisian society, cementing Kate’s reputation as a miniaturist. But the Baron has other plans for the lovely Kate as well…Much more sinister plans, that will change both their lives…I’ve been a big fan of Victoria Holt for years and this is by far my favorite book by her. Nicely written, very-well crafted and paced, and though the conflict between hero and heroine starts with rape, which some deemed severely inappropriate (thus giving the book very low ratings), I find it — though I don’t condone the deed — refreshing and a fascinating twist to what could otherwise be just another template novel, plunging the reader into the vortex of mixed and opposing feelings. On one hand you cannot understand how Kate could actually continue to find the baron fascinating, how she could continue to be attracted to him after what he did to her, while on the other you cannot help but root for her to find happiness with the man she was never able to forget, despite what he did to her.Yes, rape is rape, and no "respectable" romance novel will feature it between hero and heroine, but it’s what makes this story that more realistic. That scene is the heart of the story and its turning point, and there are many nuances in it that become evident after a re-read or two. Trust me, not everything is as it seems in that scene, especially on the baron’s part.Yep. This book could be fodder for many a debate. I lLove it.