The Art of Love is a romantic, intriguing work of historical fiction. A.B. Michaels deftly portrays a couple made for each other, though each has to endure hardships and heartbreak before they find each other.
The main characters are August Wolff, a self-made man not afraid to do hard labor to get what he wants, and Amelia Ruth, a woman who must sacrifice everything to give her sister and herself a chance at happiness. Both August and Amelia, better known as Lia, must lose something important to them. This gives them a unique understanding of one another, and is just one of the many things they have in common. (They also love sourdough bread and hate cabbage print wallpaper.)
Most of the story takes place in San Francisco, around the beginning of the 20th century. The times are changing, and August and Lia are part of that change. Both work hard to pursue their dreams, and are willing to move to wherever those dreams take them.
A.B. Michaels weaves together a strong love story that details the doubts, lust, and deep affection August and Lia come to have for each other. There are some very steamy scenes that are both graphic and tender.
I’m not usually a romance reader, but I was hooked on August and Lia’s courtship and strong attraction. They fall for each other deeply, though they both approach the relationship with caution. And they both hold secrets that they are afraid to reveal, in case they lose each other. Eventually, one of those secrets comes out, forever changing their relationship.
The story can get mushy at times, which is to be expected with romance. But it drew me in, and I also appreciated the descriptions of the historical landmarks in San Francisco.
I also enjoyed the mystery that plays out throughout the story. **SPOILER ALERT** August loses a loved one, and spends years trying to find her. But she has seemingly disappeared, despite years of private investigators looking for her.
Although the mystery wraps up pretty quickly in the end, it didn’t feel too rushed or like it was forced. The resolution came about naturally and made a lot of sense.
A.B. Michaels is a strong writer who has created compelling, flawed, but very likeable characters. Even the more minor characters have interesting backstories, and are just as driven and complicated as the main characters. They are also fiercely loyal and willing help out their friends in any way possible.
The Art of Love is the prequel to A.B. Michaels’ Sinner’s Grove contemporary romance series. The series takes place in a piece of land that August Wolff owns, and becomes a place for artists, because of Lia’s wishes.
I think romance readers will enjoy this book, and probably this series, but readers of historical fiction will also like The Art of Love. The story is fun and revolves around great characters. It’s also a quick read, mainly because once you start, you will not want to put it down.