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Posts Tagged ‘Read in Oct 2021’

(Revelations of the Carstairs Sisters #1)

Genre: Historical Romance

Blurb (Amazon):

Unaware of her beauty…

Until he awakens her.

Prudence Carstairs knows her scars leave her with no romantic prospects—instead, she’s content revolutionising her employer’s home with her technological marvels. Then he unexpectedly perishes, and his mysterious younger brother, dashing Dominic Thorburn, reluctantly takes over. In the new earl, Prudence finally finds someone who meets her gaze without flinching. Might he see the beautiful, intelligent woman beyond her scars?

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I have read several of Marguerite Kaye’s books and never been disappointed and The Earl Who Sees Her Beauty, the first book in her two book Revelations of the Carstairs Sisters, was no exception.

Having left the army under a cloud, Dominic Thorburn has spent the last five years living a simple life in Greece until, by chance, he discovers that his brother, Jeremy, has died in a train crash and he is now the new Earl of Bannatyne. Dominic has every reason to detest the aristocracy and everything they stand for and has no intention of assuming the title. He will only spend enough time in England to enable him to sell off everything appertaining to his inheritance, invest the proceeds in a worthy cause, and then return to Greece as soon as he can. However his plans go awry when he meets Prudence Carstairs, the self-proclaimed custodian of Hawthorn Manor, the Bannatyne’s ancestral home.

Prudence Carstairs, who lives with her brother Clement, suffered an accident when she was a child which left her face badly scarred. Having experienced how people recoil on seeing her face, she never goes out without wearing a wide-brimmed hat and a veil. With her keen interest in anything mechanical, the late Earl had given Prudence the task of overseeing the renovation and modernisation of Hawthorn Manor. After his death, she has continued to look after the property, but the appearance of new Earl threatens the refuge she has found at Hawthorn Manor.

When Dominic reveals his family history, I could understand why he is so determined never to join the ranks of the nobility, and how the circumstances surrounding his dishonourable discharge from the army only served to reinforce his low opinion of them. His actions reveal him to be brave, honourable, and a man who refuses to compromise on his principles, regardless of the personal cost.

I could sympathise with Prudence who’s disfigurement has shattered her youthful dreams of love and marriage. She does not conform to Victorian standards that put so much emphasis on beauty. There is one particularly emotional scene when she is exposed to public scrutiny and my heart went out to her. It’s her unconventional interest in the Victorian advancements in engineering that reveal the true Prudence – independent, brave, confident and clever.

The first meeting between Dominic and Prudence was certainly one of the most memorable ones I’ve read in a long time, but I won’t spoil it for you. The feathers fly but that doesn’t last long, and I enjoyed seeing the easy rapport between them which develops into mutual attraction and finally love. It was so satisfying to see how they help each other to overcome their personal demons.

Dominic sees beyond Prudence’s scars to the extraordinary woman she is and is determined to convince her that her scars don’t define her, unless she lets them. I love how he wants to keep her safe and make her happy. The way he woos her is unconventional to say the least but, as far as Prudence is concerned, it’s the most romantic gift.

“…if ever I was fortunate enough to be introduced to one of the new sewage pumping stations which are being constructed in London, I fear it may just steal my heart.”

I love how Prudence makes Dominic take a good look at himself and opens his eyes to the fact that, by assuming his title, he would have the influence to carry out the work he wants to do for the poor.

Later in the story when they finally make love, it just feels right. The love scene is beautifully done – tender, romantic and sensual.

I did get a little frustrated with Prudence’s wavering when it came to accepting Dominic’s marriage proposal, but this was a minor niggle and didn’t spoil my overall enjoyment of the story.

I liked Clement, Prudence’s brother, who obviously loves his sister, but could be slightly overprotective at times. Prudence’s sister, Mercy, has been trapped in an unhappy marriage and I’m looking forward to reading her story in the second book. I liked Mercy’s friend Lady Sarah Fitzherbert-Wright, and I’m intrigued by the potential pairing of this vivacious and outspoken lady with the scholarly Clement.

Ms. Kaye’s research is evident in the fascinating details she incorporates into the the story, whether it’s the clothing, the bathing huts or the intricacies of Victorian plumbing. I was so intrigued by the Crossness Pumping Station, which still survives today, that I had to Google it. I can fully understand why Prudence fell in love with it!

I like how Ms. Kaye doesn’t shy away from describing the horrors endured by the ordinary fighting men at the siege of Sebastopol, or the terrible housing conditions that the poorer people of London lived in. It all added depth to the story and showed the deep divide between the rich and the poor in Victorian society.

If you are looking for a story that is well written and impeccably researched, with interesting characters and a lovely romance, then I can highly recommend this book.

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