A story of heart and romance set in Scotland... Beauty Among Ruins by J’Nell Ciesielski (Review & #Giveaway) #histfic #historicalromance #mustread @ThomasNelson @celebrate_lit

Welcome to my tour stop! Check out my review and the tour giveaway below...

Beauty Among Ruins
By J’Nell Ciesielski
Adult Historical Romance
Paperback & ebook, 416 Pages
January 12, 2021 by Thomas Nelson


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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My Review

BEAUTY AMONG RUINS is a story of a man trying to hold on to his heritage and provide for those in his care, and a woman who is trying to find her place in the world and her own independence. It's full of wonderful characters, affected by war, shrouded in mystery, and full of friendship and romance. Highly recommended to historical romance fans!

I loved visiting Scotland with this quaint village and laird of the castle! I loved the accents and the old Gaelic words as well as the traditions, although those have started to fade at this time in history. I also really liked the castle being a place for recovering soldiers until they could go home or return to the front lines. The war definitely affects these characters, but it's a bit removed (think Downton Abbey). The setting was just really wonderful as an escape read and I'd love to visit again.

I also loved the overall plot of the story. Here is this girl, Lily, who is becoming her own woman and trying to do her best to revive these soldiers' spirits, much to the chagrin of the matron. She is a great friend to her cousin and others, even if she can be a bit pushy in wanting everyone to find joy in life. She puts on a good front, but she has wounds that she keeps hidden and has to come to terms with. She realizes that she wants something specific in her life, more than the top tier of New York society and being an ornament on someone's arm can give her. Then there's Alec. He's a rugged Scottsman trying to keep possession of his land and castle, provide for his mother and sister, and do his part in the war by helping soldiers. He's looked down upon because of an injury that exempts him from fighting and his aloofness. He's become a bit of a hermit and loneliness is a constant friend. His sister is a delight, but his mother is quite judgmental. Lily and Alec find surprising friendship in each other and pieces of their walls begin to break as they come to know and care for each other. However, there are others who want to see Alec fall so they can get what they want, among other things standing in their way of happiness.

This story had all the feels. There are parts that will make you laugh (the mouse!), cry (Alec and his situation as well as Lily's with Esther and her parents) and swoon (there are quite a few swoon-worthy moments). I loved these characters! I loved that they were complex with their own vulnerabilities and strengths. Lily and Alec were marvelous, but so were Bertie, Viola and Guthrie. Even Matron Strom grew on me. It was a heartbreaking to read these characters' journey in some ways, but also enjoyable seeing these character persevere and the joy that Lily brought to those around her and eventually earned for herself.

There were a couple of things I thought could have been developed more or less. The mystery aspect wasn't constant through the story, so sometimes there's a feeling of something nefarious and at other times there's not. Most of that part of the story actually didn't make sense to me. Maybe if it would have just been minor things here and there to build to something climatic, but it more felt like things happened and people made choices that didn't make sense to me. I also thought Alec's mother is a half-formed character. She's there, but she never is really fully developed nor are things really ever concluded. However, then there were things all tied up that I didn't feel were necessary. Just small things really, but things that could have been edited out or developed more.

In the end, was it what I wished for? The story was entertaining, heartfelt, and a delight to read with the sweeping setting in Scotland and wonderful characters. It was a sweet romance with enough grit to add some poignant moments as well. Highly recommended!

Content: Clean
Source: I received a complimentary ARC from the publisher through NetGalley, which did not require a positive review. All opinions are my own.

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.

Tour Schedule

Fiction Aficionado, January 27
Sara Jane Jacobs, January 27
Wishful Endings, January 28
Genesis 5020, January 28
lakesidelivingsite, January 29
Connect in Fiction, January 30
CarpeDiem, January 30
Artistic Nobody, January 31 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)
Rebecca Tews, February 1
Texas Book-aholic, February 2
As He Leads is Joy, February 2
Robin’s Nest, February 2
Older & Smarter?, February 3
Remembrancy, February 4
Mia Reads, February 5
Joanne Markey, February 5
Splashes of Joy, February 5
Mary Hake, February 5
Betti Mace, February 6
She Lives to Read, February 7
The Write Escape, February 7
Simple Harvest Reads, February 8 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)
Novels Corner, February 8
Pause for Tales, February 9
Lis Loves Reading, February 9

Tour-Wide Giveaway

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.

What do you think? Will you be reading this one?

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