I loved "The Girl with the Persian Shawl." It's the kind of book you want to hug to yourself and read quietly away from the hustle and bustle of day to day life. And while the previous reviewers are quite correct in saying it's all about misapprehensions and miscommunications, the novel is also (in my opinion) an example of how a very plain and basic storyline can be enlivened and made engaging by an enchanting and lively prose style.
Harry Gerard, Lord Ainsworth, has been hunting for a painting that one of his ancestors had done about 100 years ago and which has gone missing since then. And when he reads that there is a painting at Rendell Hall (The Girl with the Persian Shawl) that seems to (descriptively) match the one he is after, he sets out to investigate. Unfortunately for Harry, he runs afoul of the painting's owner, Kate Rendell, a beautiful young lady who is incensed at the suggestion that her family heirloom might have been illegally obtained. Proud and impetuous, Kate immediately begins to try and give Harry the rough edge of her tongue, and is quite stunned to discover that it is he that gets the better of her when he subtly points out how rude and disagreeable she's being.
The incident preys on her mind, and makes Kate question much of her behavior -- her need to always manage things, her reluctance to back down and acknowledge when she's wrong, and her pride -- and the result makes her feel completely blue- deviled. So that when an invitation to uncle's estate arrives, requesting the need for Kate's and her mother's presence in order to celebrate a special occasion, Kate eagerly leaps at the opportunity for a change of scene, hoping that the festivities and congenial company will help get rid of her fit of dismals as well her latest tendency to think about Harry Gerard all the time. Imagine her shock and surprise when one of the guests turns out to be Harry! Now, Kate has to decide how she will get through this house party with equanimity when she doesn't know how to deal with Harry or her attraction for him...
If you like reading about alpha-male heroes and feisty heroines, then "The Girl with the Persian Shawl" may not be the romance novel for you. True, Kate is stubborn and managing, but she's no amazon. Also, because Kate begins to question much of her behaviour and the manner in which she handles things after the first few chapters, there is a certain and texture and tone to this novel that makes it so very compelling and readable. The story unfolds smoothly and the romance that develops between Harry and Kate, while a little sedate and brief (the trials and tribulations of Kate's youthful and flighty cousin, Deirdre, tended to kidnap much of the novel), was a joy to read.
"The Girl with the Persian Shawl" was a truly fun read, with splendidly drawn characters (esp Kate's mother, who's character simply blossoms as the novel progresses), and is one I have no hesitation in recommending, esp if you like quiet books that focus on character and gentle romance.