The Portrait by Megan Chance
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The Portrait was dark, angsty and riveting. At times, I wasn’t sure that I liked Jonas. However, I came to see that his initial cruelty towards Imogene arose out of his despair, his hopelessness about his life. People are often cruel out of self-defense. He felt a sense of powerlessness about his mental illness, and his dependence on his patrons to keep a roof over his head and to be able to do the one thing that had meaning for him, to pursue his art. As the book progresses, I saw that Jonas was a man who was very much capable of loving Imogene, a man that love could change for the better, merely by giving him hope and by having one person who saw him truly, who would not leave him or give up on him, even through the bad times, That was Imogene.
Imogene saddened me at times. Her lack of self-esteem, and lack of belief in herself. However, it was soon clear why she felt that way. Her father was just awful. He put his one daughter on a pedestal, and barely noticed the other, when he wasn’t putting her down and inflicting emotional cruelty on her. She’d spent most of her life feeling like she was inadequate to her family, feeling her mother’s disgust and hatred. Always below the mark of comparison to her sister, Chloe. When her father sends her to New York City to study art, she is determined to make a good artist out of herself, to make her father proud.
Instead she meets Jonas, a brilliant painter, who treats her cruelly at first, but captivates her and causes her to fall in love with him. Imogene wasn’t a fool. She went into the love affair with Jonas with her eyes open. She had been used by a man before, not measuring up, and she didn’t think that this larger-than-life artist could really love her for who she was. She was wrong. In Imogene, Jonas saw a masterpiece, a hidden beauty. But he also loved her for who she was. For her love and acceptance of him.
I love dark and angsty romance, but I was afraid this was going to be too dark for me. I’m glad to see that I was wrong. I loved the message of hope in this story. Jonas’ mental condition was not an easy fix. Many people with bi-polar disorder don’t fare well, particularly in the past, when they didn’t even have a diagnosis and no good way to treat this mental condition. With this story, I know things won’t be easy for Jonas or Imogene, but they have their love and their commitment to each other to help them through the dark times. Imogene has seen Jonas at his worst, and it didn’t make her run away. She only left because she thought he didn’t love her or that she didn’t matter. But she came back because he was the one for her, her true love. She would stay by his side forever, no matter what, knowing that he truly wanted her. Thankfully, Jonas loves her for who she is, and that’s what she always needed in her life. As this book ends, I felt a sense of hope that made this dark read just my kind of story. I could believe that although life won’t be easy, they will have a happy ending together. And that’s why I love romance novels.
Thanks to Denise for kindly loaning me this book for my Kindle!
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