Beauty Among Ruins

An American heiress meets a Scottish laird during World War I

Beauty Among Ruins is a unique novel. Set in the early 1900s, the story follows Lily Durham, an American socialite from New York after her parents ship her off to England to “learn how to act like a lady.” During Lily’s stay, the war intensifies, scorching through Europe with a force that calls all the men to arms and the women to care for the wounded coming off the battlefield.

Following her cousin, Birdy, to the Scottish Highlands, Lily finds herself in Kinclavoch Castle, where she is to be a nurse, though she is hardly qualified. Nevertheless, always up for a challenge, Lily plants her feet in the ground and gets to work, no matter how many lines she crosses or rules she has to break to prove her point. Quickly creating a name for herself, Lily is introduced to the castle’s owner, Alec MacGregor, who seems just as cold and worn down as his home. Will Lily be able to melt Alec’s cold heart, or will her American spunk bring more chaos than care? As accidents become all too frequent and Alec struggles to pay his father’s debts, the future of the castle’s ownership seems shaky. War and love change everyone, but will Lily and Alec learn how to speak one another’s language before they, too, are torn apart?

I was wildly surprised by Beauty Among Ruins! This was my introduction to J’nell Ciesielski’s work, and I really loved her writing style and the narrative she created, though I was a little upset at how the chapters began to skip chunks of time toward the end. J’nell’s words were charming and captivating; I found myself absorbed in the storyline and couldn’t stop reading in anticipation of what would happen next. Beauty Among Ruins is a great book for any historical fiction lover, as it adds a new approach to the war and sparks the reader’s admiration for Scotland.

However, I will say that the audiobook was atrocious. I’m sure the narrator tried hard, but her Scottish accent was so bad I could feel my ears screaming in protest. If you are going to tell such a beautiful, elegant story based in Scotland, you need to have a narrator who can make the country proud! My father, a Scot, along with my Scottish friends, were appalled at the accent. So, I implore the publishers to please add a Scotsman to this book, giving readers another reason to fall in love with Alec and dream of meeting a Scottish prince one day!

*Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a pre-release copy of this book. My thoughts and opinions are entirely my own!*

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