Beauty Among Ruins. J'nell Ciesielski. 2021. [January] 368 pages. Thomas Nelson. [Source: Review copy]
First sentence: CREEPING THROUGH THE BACK DOOR, LILY DURHAM slipped across the black-and-white tiled kitchen and checked the hallway before scurrying up the stairs to the main floor.
Premise/plot: Lily Durham, our heroine, finds herself a nursing aid during the first world war after her parents ship her off to England for her 'rebellious' suitor-repelling attitude. Lily and her cousin Bertie are nurses--or a nurse and a nurses aide--at a convalescent home in Scotland. There are many, many, many rules for them to live by--for all the nursing staff--but one is not to enter the private quarters of the family. How many guess that Lily will 'accidentally' break that rule a few times!
Alec MacGregor, our hero, is struggling...with many things. The future of his estate is in doubt for the debts are monstrous. And he's being haggled--pestered--by a no good reporter with a grudge against his family. His mother has disconnected from life; his sister is so ill she hasn't left her room in years. The last thing he's looking for is a beautiful young woman taking an interest in his well being...in his family's well being.
My thoughts: This one definitely has vibes of Beauty and the Beast. I haven't decided if this was intentional or not. (Not that Lily is Belle with her head stuck in a book. Perhaps just the setting of a crumbling castle with a super-cranky-grumpy master. Perhaps the thawing or breaking down of wall...) I loved the setting. I loved the Scottish hero. (You pretty much have me at hello anytime there's a Scottish hero!) I loved the setting of World War I.
There were many things I enjoyed about this one. I loved the characterization of Lily and Alec. But the characterization of most if not all the other characters is on the weaker side. In particular, her parents are particularly one dimensional and just plain old MEAN without any real reason. They're just stereotypically opposed to anything that might bring their daughter happiness. I couldn't understand her mother...at all. The plot could also get a bit melodramatic in places. I could have used a little less drama. Sometimes I feel romance novels over-push it in the drama department when it comes to inventing obstacles to make it difficult to get to a happy ending. I think the war offered enough natural obstacles without so much more going on in the background.
Still all that being said, I definitely enjoyed it more than not. I really liked the romance.
© 2020 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews