Frederic Ashton Thorpe and his best friend, Henry Winstone, are artists immersed in the Pre-Raphaelite movement, with its yearning for romantic escape from the materialism of Victorian society. Seeing a half-finished portrait of the beautiful Eleanor Farnham at Henry's studio, Fred is fascinated and returns in order to meet her. He and Ellie fall in love and are married.
But every heart hides a secret and both Fred and Ellie have put certain events behind them - events that, if exposed, could threaten their blissful new life. After her mother's death, Ellie inherits the Crimson Bed, a family heirloom passed down through the female line since Elizabethan times. With the bed come ancestral secrets that will eventually affect Ellie as much as the unhappy memories from her own past. Meanwhile, Fred is haunted by shameful memories of his own, that lead him into the darkness of the London slums and a very different world to that of his peaceful home.
As a brilliant and talented artist, Henry is beginning to experience success and fame, but his life is haunted by tragedy and loss. Despite their own problems, Ellie and Fred watch in despair as he sinks slowly into drink, illness and decline.
Passions escalate as Fred becomes increasingly jealous of Ellie's closeness to her handsome godfather, Lord Percy Dillinger, and when shocking truths finally come to light, their lives will never be the same again...
Loretta won prizes for stories and plays in the 1970s, but put writing aside for many years. Now back to writing novels, her first book, The Long Shadow, was published in 2005. Her own interest in painting and a lifelong fascination with Pre-Raphaelite artworks led to her writing The Crimson Bed.