Rachel, a young prostitute enjoys the peace and beauty of the city garden in Arles. She falls asleep there and when she awakes, she finds a man sketching her. He turns out to be none other than Vincent Van Gogh. After their first encounter, Vincent visits Rachel at her brothel, 1, Rue du Bout d'Arles. He comes with a bouquet of wild flowers in hopes of convincing Rachel to let him paint her. This is the start of their romantic relationship.
As Rachel's love for Vincent deepens, her friend from 1, Rue du Bout d'Arles, Francois warns her not to get pulled in. She questions Vincent's love for Rachel and worries that Rachel is being set up for disappointment and possible ruin. Yes ruin, Rachel could be thrown out of the brothel and it's protection and be out on the street.
Vincent does seem to love Rachel however , he is supported financially by his brother Theo and does not think that he or his family would approve of the relationship. As Rachel and Vincent's love deepens Vincent all of a sudden goes mad. He comes to the brothel to give Rachel "a gift", part of his ear that he cut off. Vincent ends up going into a hospital, where Rachel isn't able to see him very often. From then on he gets better for awhile and then relapse often. Eventually the mental illness Vincent suffers forces him to leave town to get better treatment. Will Rachel and Vincent's love endure this separation? Read the book and find out.
Sheramy Bundrick writes in first person narrative with Rachel being the narrator. I loved how Bundrick takes Rachel, a little known person and writes an entire book about her. Her beautiful prose describes Van Gogh's paintings so well that I could picture them in my head.
Bundrick weaves a good tale of romance between Rachel and Vincent but after awhile I found the relationship monotonous. Rachel seemed to have a lot of freedom to come and go from the brothel. She went where and when she wanted to go and I question how realistic this is. Some of the women in the brothel are written as either really good or really bad, hardly any in-between which, also seems unrealistic to me. I also would have liked to have had more of 1889 Aries to bring more of the historical into it.
Once Vincent's first bought with illness comes, I found that the book picked up and I especially enjoyed the last few chapters. If you love historical romance, you will probably enjoy this book.