The Poetics of Passion

A Muses of Scandal Novel

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Pub Date 25 Jul 2023 | Archive Date 15 Oct 2023

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“Charming and sexy . . . Ross’s debut historical romance is definitely a novel that will enchant readers!” — ELIZA KNIGHT, USA Today bestselling author

In 1872 London, a scandalous love poetess and a passionate children's book illustrator are set at odds in this sparkling enemies-to-lovers debut historical romance.

A secret identity means secret desires—and not-so-secret scandals . . .  

Musa Bartham has a secret. To support her destitute family after her father’s disappearance, she’s been publishing steamy poetry under the pen name of Felicity Vita. As Felicity Vita, Musa’s scandalous books have won legions of devoted fans—including an anonymous gentleman pen pal whose letters spark unruly desires she would never ever succumb to in her orderly daily life. But when Musa’s cherished younger sister, Angela, is offered sponsorship by their aristocratic great-aunt for an advantageous marriage, Musa realizes her dangerous double life as Felicity must come to an end. Instead, she’ll write books for children.

Sebastian Atkinson is a passionate artist reduced to working nights as a printer. Though Seb is infuriated by the prim yet alluring young woman who corners him into illustrating her insipid children’s book, he can’t turn Musa away: he suspects she may be Felicity Vita, the seductive poetess with whom he’s been exchanging love letters for the past year. Egged on by his best friend, an ambitious journalist desperate for a break, Seb seeks to unmask Musa’s secret identity. But the closer Seb comes to the truth, the more Musa entices him—and the more Musa finds Seb curiously attractive and even more curiously familiar. Could he have anything to do with her anonymous gentleman pen pal?

Unable to resist each other, the two shift from enemies to lovers just as their love letters are stolen, setting Angela's future at risk. As Seb and Musa frantically come together to contain the damage before it's too late, it’s uncertain whose hearts and lives will be broken amid the most sensational scandal of all. 

Available in trade softcover and ebook. Includes an exclusive excerpt from The Dance of Desire, the second book in the Muses of Scandal series. 

“Charming and sexy . . . Ross’s debut historical romance is definitely a novel that will enchant readers!” — ELIZA KNIGHT, USA Today bestselling author

In 1872 London, a scandalous love poetess and a...

Advance Praise

“Chock full of compelling characters, charm, and heartfelt emotion. I fell in love with Sebastian and Musa and their loyalty to their families above all else, even when their love was on the line.” — HARPER ST. GEORGE, author of THE DUCHESS TAKES A HUSBAND

“A story of hidden identities, secret longings, and the conflict of familial duty versus private pleasure, Delphine Ross conjures . . . the era with a master hand. A fascinating read!” — MIMI MATTHEWS, USA Today bestselling author of THE BELLE OF BELGRAVE SQUARE

“A charming and sexy Victorian romance with a vibrant literary heroine and a swooning artist hero who go head to head. A captivating blend of witty banter, historical details and delightful characters, Ross’s debut historical romance is definitely a novel that will enchant readers!” — ELIZA KNIGHT, USA Today bestselling author of THE REBEL WEARS PLAID

“Chock full of compelling characters, charm, and heartfelt emotion. I fell in love with Sebastian and Musa and their loyalty to their families above all else, even when their love was on the line.” —...

Available Editions

ISBN 9798985351262
PRICE $3.99 (USD)

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Average rating from 98 members

Featured Reviews

5 STARS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Musa is the bespectacled product of an infamous love story, a beauty-who-doesn't know-it and Sebastian is a sad-tragic-orphan and a heart-fluttering-y handsome artist. Both are penniless, trying to keep their siblings alive and happy, and happen to be rivals-at-first-sight. Meanwhile, their alter-ego pen-pal selves are falling in scrumptious, sensual, scandalous, secret love.

I went in blind and I was completely blown away by the excellence that is this book! The prose is witty and hilarious, the plot is engaging and well-paced, and the characters are very interesting. Overall, this is a fresh take on historical romance and very talented piece of writing. An absolutely brilliant debut!

My heartfelt thanks to the author, the publisher and NetGalley for the eARC!

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London 1870…Musa Bartham, the eldest of 4 siblings is 26 and trying to keep her family from the poor house. Many years ago, Musa’s parents cause a huge scandal and society has never forgotten or forgiven them or their children. They are shunned and maliciously gossiped about. Now, her famous painter father has not returned from his artistic sojourn to the Middle East undertaken 4 years and her mother spends her days laying in bed and crying. The Bartham family has sold everything of value, moved to cheaper lodgings and are living on the edge. Musa tries everything she can think of to bring in some money and eventually lands on writing love (semi-erotic) poems under a pen name and is quite successful. Because her family is already considered scandalous and shunned, Musa cannot afford to cause more problems by publishing under her own name. Sadly, her publisher has recently sold controlling interest in the company to a prudish American who wants nothing to do with the popular but controversial poetry books. Musa is desperate and, thru a series of coincidences, Musa convinces a stranger to illustrate a book of moral parables for children that she will write for money…something the prudish American will approve of and will be acceptable to society. The stranger happens to be the great enamored pen pal of the poetess but he also used a fake name….neither one of them know who the other is and they don’t particularly like each other but they both need money and they agree to work together. A book is written and illustrated, identities are revealed and true love prevails. A delightful romp with a determined heroine and endearing hero.

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I loved this refreshing regency romance. It was so good. I am totally obsessed with this!! I want more like this please!!
I just reviewed The Poetics of Passion by Delphine Ross. #PoeticsofPassion #NetGalley
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This Historical Romance switches perspectives between the two main characters: Musa, a writer whose family and future prospects have been damned by her parents' scandalous romance, and Seb, an artist who is striving to provide for his ailing sister while being desperately in love with Musa's nom de plume. Their paths cross, fates intertwine, and what starts as a rocky partnership at best, turns into a supportive and fierce romance. The story has great pacing, sweet tension, and adequate steamy moments. I couldn't help but feel frustrated when characters made certain poor decisions, but perhaps that shows how invested a reader can get in the story. Fans of scandal and secret identities in more light-hearted historical settings will find The Poetics of Passion to be an engaging read.

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Every now and then I want an escapist read, and <i>The Poetics of Passion</i> is just that, a fun, steamy read that let me slip away into a romance. Sometimes I just need that promised Happily Ever After, and this novel delivers.

Musa writes love poetry under a pseudonym to support her family. A starving artist, Seb, writes love letters to the love poet, aka Musa, under a pseudonym as well. The two are destined to meet and become entangled, but their correspondence--and their budding relationship--threaten Musa's sister's chances at marriage.

The 1870s London setting was intriguing, with the mores and strictures of British society. Musa's family abounds with scandals, each deliciously portrayed. This historical romance was just what I needed.

Thank you to Netgalley for providing the book in exchange for an honest review.

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Clearly this book is a more refined type of romance. Satisfying in the resolution of the challenges but also leading the reader to sigh as true love prevails. The usual 'rich duke poor lady' is not depicted here but the repressive social structure does apply. The passionate nature of both of our characters was hinted at rather than heavy handed. I loved their mutual intelligence and devotion to their loved ones.

Praise to the author for a really enjoyable read. I hope to see more of your works in the future!

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Thank you, Muse Publications and NetGalley, for the advanced copy of The Poetics of Passion.

Wow! What a debut! The second novel will definitely be added to my wishlist! This story had total Bridgerton vibes. It was charming, and delightful, and kept me entertained. Highly recommend this one!!

Musa Bartham is secretly publishing, you guessed it, passionate poetry in order to support her family after her father's disappearance. When her publishing house is switching ownership, she is forced to go legit and move toward children's stories. With that enters the artist Sebastian Atkinson as our MC's illustrator and nemesis. Unbeknownst to both of them, they have been writing and falling in love with each other using nom de plumes. As the story unfolds, the two are forced to get to know each other and question their feelings towards the other. Musa needs help to keep her identity hidden, but Seb may unintentionally be uncovering her identity. Will the two be able to form an alliance or will their lives be shattered by scandal?

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Delphine Ross’ debut novel was the Victorian romance take on You’ve Got Mail that I didn’t know that I needed in my life. However, instead of being rival bookstore owners, Musa Bartham and Sebastian Atkinson are forced to collaborate as writer and illustrator for a wholesome children’s novel. Throw in the fact that Musa is secretly supporting her family as an anonymous best-selling ‘Love Poetess’ and Sebastian is secretly her biggest fan, and you’ve got yourself a delightful page-turner!

All in all, The Poetics of Passion was a fresh, charming read, starred likeable well-developed main characters and featured relatable obstacles. Thank you to PlotTrysts for the recommendation and Muse Publications for the ARC – I’m already looking forward to Ross’ next book in the series! (Out 7/25)

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What a great debut historical romance! Absolutely had a great time reading this one.

Musa: the eldest daughter of the scandalous Bartham family has a secret: she is secretly Felicity Vita, erotic poet. She's supported her family for the past five years, ever since her father went missing and her mother retreated into a deep depression. One of her only outlets is her correspondence with Henry Whitney, a pen pal who is devoted to her poetry. Only Henry isn't Henry, he's Sebastian, impoverished artist. Seb is supporting his own family while also trying to break through as a painter.

When they meet face to face, it's as Musa and Seb - and it's not love at first sight. Musa recruits him to illustrate her new, respectable children's book. He agrees, but only with the condition that he get to meet Felicity. But as they spend more time together, Seb starts to suspect that Musa is hiding something...

This was just plain delightful. Musa and Seb might not like each other to begin with, but they soon realize they have more in common than they think. For the reader, it is great fun to see them realize how compatible they are without knowing that they are already acquainted. Seb's intuition about Musa is based on his intimate knowledge of Felicity through her letters, not through some metaphysical romance novel ~connection~. Do they both make mistakes? Sure! But they're never unforgivable. There is an overarching sense of tension for the reader, since if Musa's identity is revealed she and her family will lose everything. Seb has his own stressors and temptations. Watching them come together felt like a romance should feel: both inevitable and unexpected.

Highly recommended!

This objective review is based on a complimentary copy of the novel.

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