Saturday, March 13, 2021

Book Review: Beauty Among Ruins by J'nell Ciesielski

About the Book:

In Ciesielski’s latest sweeping romance, an American heiress finds herself in Scotland amid the fallout of the Great War, and a wounded Scottish laird comes face-to-face with his past and a woman he never could have expected.

American socialite Lily Durham is known for enjoying one moment to the next, with little regard for the consequences of her actions. But just as she is banished overseas to England as a “cure” for her frivolous ways, the Great War breaks out and wreaks havoc. She joins her cousin in nursing the wounded at a convalescent home deep in the wilds of Scotland at a crumbling castle where its laird is less than welcoming.

Alec MacGregor has given his entire life to preserving his home of Kinclavoch Castle, but mounting debts force him to sell off his family history bit by bit. Labeled a coward for not joining his countrymen in the trenches due to an old injury, he opens his home to the Tommies to make recompense while he keeps to the shadows. But his preference for the shadows is shattered when a new American nurse comes streaming into the castle on a burst of light.

Lily and Alec are thrown together when a series of mysterious events threatens to ruin the future of Kinclavoch. Can they put aside their differences to find the culprit before it’s too late, or will their greatest distraction be falling in love?

My Thoughts:

I quickly fell in love with Beauty Among Ruins by J’nell Ciesielski. This stand-alone novel features a lush Scottish setting that swept me away from reality. Gaelic words sprinkle throughout the narrative. I referred occasionally to the glossary when the sentence did not imply the meaning. However, the Gaelic use felt just right – enough to enchant, but not overwhelm, the reader.

Not only did I enjoy the setting of Beauty Among Ruins, but the characters and their development shined as I traveled through the novel. Alec, the laird of Kinclavoch Castle, emanates loyalty. Whether it is his family, his estate, his country, or the Tommies recuperating in his home, he strives to serve them all in his own way. Alec juxtaposes Lily, a spoiled American socialite full of selfishness and insubordination. An unexpected romance between this unlikely pair forces both to change and grow. I loved the character development and refinement, though Lily’s took some time. Her undesirable traits linger in the story which may not appeal to some readers. However, I thoroughly enjoyed reading Beauty Among Ruins by J’nell Ciesielski and I recommend to it anyone who enjoys clean, historical fiction.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a copy of this book by the author or publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.

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