About the Book
Book: Beauty Among Ruins
Author: J’Nell Ciesielski
Genre: Historical Romance
Release Date: January 12, 2021
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?
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I don’t usually think a book is movie-worthy, but J’nell Ciesielski’s latest, Beauty among Ruins, has me wishing for a movie or theatre adaptation. I just finished this wonderful novel written as only Ciesielski can. Beauty among Ruins brings us an immediately likable heroine in beauty Lily, a rich socialite who longs to fulfill a greater role in life than what society dictates, and have fun doing it. We also see the loose beast image contrast in Alec McGregor, who though unable to fight in WWI due to an injury, opens his aging estate, Kinclavoch, to convalescing soldiers. The beauty aspect appears as Lily Durham, banished to England, actually ends up in Scotland as a nurse at Kinclavoch and turns the ideas of staid, emotionless, nursing upside down. But most importantly, we see the thawing of brooding, burdened, and emotionally dead Kinclavoch owner Alec. Can their growing love and his metamorphosis survive the repeated calamities that follow Lilly’s arrival to Alec’s beloved Kinclavoch?
If the main characters’ emotions and interplay weren’t enough to build a play or movie, Ciesielski has built a strong supporting cast, which I would love to see acted out. I think there would be some Academy Awards for supporting actors and actresses here!! I just loved even the antagonists, as they filled their roles so well. Some characters weren’t clearly all black or white. I loved Lily for seeing the need in one particular person most would have seen as an enemy. I also loved the peeling back of her parent’s pasts until we could finally see their true feelings. And whew, that involved a lot of layers!
I appreciated the glossary of Scottish words at the end of the book, as opposed to the beginning. Points for both the publisher and the author here. I am not a big fan of a lot of early information for a reader in the beginning. It is too easy to skip over those seemingly “nonessential” addendums that keeps me from the meat of the book. In the end, I am ready to savor extra historical bits, glossaries, or study questions, all of which truly enhanced this great book.
“Situations are simple. It’s the people who twist them up.”
“ ’Tis a hardiness we’re born with.” Though not all. Some were made to suffer no matter the strength in their hearts.
“Kindness always deserves recognition.”
I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher through Celebrate Lit via NetGalley. I also bought a copy. These are my own unsolicited opinions.
About the Author
With a passion for heart-stopping adventure and sweeping love stories, J’nell Ciesielski weaves fresh takes into romances of times gone by. When not creating dashing heroes and daring heroines, she can be found dreaming of Scotland, indulging in chocolate of any kind, or watching old black and white movies. Winner of the INSPY and the Maggie Award, she is a Florida native who now lives in Virginia with her husband, daughter, and lazy beagle. Learn more at www.jnellciesielski.com.
More from J’Nell
Inspiration for Beauty Among Ruins
Once again, blame it on Downton Abbey. This time on Lady Rose. She was impulsive, spoiled, a free spirit, yet with a good heart. I knew I wanted to take on the challenge of writing a heroine like her. A character who starts off one way and by the end of the book has completely charmed you over. So I started writing and everything was going great until … it wasn’t. The plot just stopped on me. No matter how hard I tried the story refused to reveal itself to me which is incredibly frustrating for someone who doesn’t like to give up once they’ve started something. But I had to. In the end, I had to put the story, affectionately titled Love on the Limp, away for several months while I wrote The Socialite. Then one day the story clicked. It was meant to be a WWI telling on the classic Beauty and the Beast story. Everything fell into place and the story and characters burst onto the page in glorious technicolor.
Lily and Alec took me by surprised with how much I fell in love with them. Bubbly Lily and brooding Alec. Never had two more opposites been so perfect for one another (at least in my writing experience). They had so many obstacles to overcome, many of them self-imposed, that I often found myself in tears over their heartaches, but golly gumdrops when they came together, boy o boy were there fireworks!
You may have also noticed that the story is set in Scotland because I happen to believe that every good story is set there. I had the privilege of staring at pictures of this breathtaking landscape for months so I could imagine the characters strolling among the heather and watching the river twist through the green moors. To me, nothing rivals the awe inspiring beauty of a certain place, and hopefully readers will feel that through these pages.
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To celebrate her tour, J’Nell is giving away the grand prize of a paperback copy of the book and an audiobook copy of The Socialite!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.