An Inconvenient Beauty by Kristi Ann Hunter

Disclaimer: An Inconvenient Beauty, by Kristi Ann Hunter, was provided by Bethany House. I received a free copy from the publisher. No review, positive or otherwise, was required—all opinions are my own.

Griffith, Duke of Riverton, likes order, logic, and control, so he naturally applies this rational approach to his search for a bride. While he’s certain Miss Frederica St. Claire is the perfect wife for him, she is strangely elusive, and he can’t seem to stop running into her stunningly beautiful cousin, Miss Isabella Breckenridge. Isabella should be enjoying her society debut, but with her family in difficult circumstances, she has no choice but to agree to a bargain that puts her at odds with all her romantic hopes—as well as her conscience. And the more she comes to know Griffith, the more she regrets the unpleasant obligation that prevents her from any dream of a future with him. As all Griffith’s and Isabella’s long-held expectations are shaken to the core, can they set aside their pride and fear long enough to claim a happily-ever-after?

My rating: 3/5 

An Inconvenient Beauty is the sequel to An Uncommon Courtshipand the last book (presumably, since there’s no one left to marry off) in the Hawthorne House series. This book follows Griffith in his logical, rational quest to find an appropriate bride. And, of course, since this is an obvious trope, nothing about his quest turns out as he thought it would.

I feel like this book, in particular, is much more humorous than the previous ones that I’ve read. I could, of course, be misremembering, but An Uncommon Courtship had all that awkwardness between Trent and Adelaide and An Elegant Façade had Georgiana angsting over her dyslexia (I don’t mean that in a negative way, simply that she spent a lot of time agonizing over it, for good reason). I don’t remember much humor in those books. An Inconvenient Beauty, however, has lots of funny moments—as much as the trope is overused, Griffith’s preconceptions about “the perfect wife” being completely overturned by Isabella is fun. There’s also some amusing interaction between characters, especially Griffith and his family.

The things that prevented this book from getting a 4 out of 5 rating are Isabella’s beauty and the length of the book. I am so sick of beautiful romantic leads (and not just “beautiful,” but “incomparably beautiful”). I started heartily wishing that Frederica had been the protagonist, instead. I mean, at least Hunter pokes some fun at the idea of “the beauty” and also utilizes Isabella’s beauty as a plot device, but still. I also thought the book went on for slightly too long; the last third of it dragged on and stalled a little bit in terms of plot advancement. At that point, I started getting sick of all the back-and-forth between Griffin and Isabella and started wishing that they would just get together, already.

I also didn’t like how inconsistent the Christian elements were. It’s like Hunter thought she should throw in some mentions of what the characters believed about God, but then never followed through on any of it, particularly Isabella’s. The Christian elements also added nothing to the book and the same message could have been gotten across without them.

An Inconvenient Beauty is a good end to the Hawthorne House series. I think my favorite is still An Elegant Façade because it’s the most unique in terms of plot, but I enjoyed reading all of them. I found it hard to put this book down, even if the last part of it dragged on and I kept wishing that Isabella wasn’t so pretty.

Warnings: None.

Genre: Historical Fiction, Christian

You can buy this here: http://amzn.to/2xZRue2

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An Uncommon Courtship by Kristi Ann Hunter

Disclaimer: An Uncommon Courtship, by Kristi Ann Hunter, was provided by Bethany House. I received a free copy. No review, positive or otherwise, was required—all opinions are my own.

When her mother’s ill-conceived marriage trap goes awry, Lady Adelaide Bell unwittingly finds herself bound to a stranger who ignores her. Lord Trent Hawthorne, who had grand plans to marry for love, is even less pleased with the match. Can they set aside their first impressions before any chance of love is lost?

My rating: 4/5

An interesting and unique take on a marriage of convenience, An Uncommon Courtship returns to the familiar setting of the previous books in the Hawthorne House series (though explains enough that newcomers will not be lost), this time telling Trent’s story.

Perhaps not every reader will enjoy the shy, shrinking Adelaide, but I thoroughly enjoyed her—I’m tired of confident, “I know what I want” female protagonists who are as interesting as a brown paper bag. Adelaide is both as insecure as her upbringing would create and as assertive as her new situation would start her to be, in a good display of character development overall. Trent, with all of his questions and lack of confidence, was also a good character. Oftentimes male characters in these sorts of books seem a little too wise; Trent’s confusion was a nice change of pace.

I also appreciated Hunter’s take on the convenient marriage plot; while perhaps being a little too obvious about giving marital advice, some good questions and answers were raised in a context where a majority of people are often curiously silent. Marriage in books like these tends to be treated as the ultimate destination, the ultimate summation of happiness, and maybe it is, but Trent and Adelaide’s journey seemed to me to show the hidden side of it, with its struggles, conflicts, and emotions. So, kudos to Hunter for changing it up from her first two books (and the novella) and showing something that I, at least, have never really seen before.

There’s one last unmarried Hawthorne left, and I’m curious to see if Hunter will write a final book for Griffith. That would be an interesting read, I think, so I hope she does.

An Uncommon Courtship, while not as fascinating or as gripping as I found An Elegant Façade, is a unique take on the marriage of convenience, dealing with marital guidance and how to communicate with someone you barely know, among other things. Adelaide and Trent had good characterization, and while I wish some of the other characters weren’t so underdeveloped and one-dimensional (such as Adelaide’s mother and sister, who started out the series as gossiping golddiggers and remain so three books later), I have really enjoyed Hunter’s Hawthorne House series despite that.

Warnings: None.

Genre: Historical Fiction, Christian

You can buy this here: http://amzn.to/2kc4uGh

An Elegant Façade by Kristi Ann Hunter

Disclaimer: An Elegant Façade, by Kristi Ann Hunter, was provided by Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.

Lady Georgina Hawthorne has always known she must marry well. After years of tirelessly planning every detail of her debut season, she is posed to be a smashing success and have her choice of eligible gentlemen. With money and powerful business connections but no title, Colin McCrae is invited everywhere by accepted nowhere. He intends to marry someday, but when he does it will not be to a shallow woman like Lay Georgina, whose only concerns appear to be status and appearance. But beneath her flawless exterior, Georgina’s social aspirations stem from a shameful secret she is desperately trying to keep hidden—and that Colin is too close to discovering. Drawn to each other despite their mutual intent to avoid association, is the realization of their dreams worth the sacrifices they’ll be forced to make?

My rating: 4/5

When I first started reading An Elegant Façade, I thought that I would probably enjoy it but that overall it would be another generic (and maybe even clichéd) historical romance. Then, Kristi Ann Hunter introduced an issue that I’ve never seen a Regency novel do (and very few contemporary novels, for that matter): dyslexia.

Dyslexia is difficult enough today, but Hunter captures perfectly how devastating it would be to have it in the Regency period, when a woman’s worth was determined by 1.) her dowry and 2.) her ability to run a household. Georgina is carefully and elegantly written, and every aspect of her character made sense to me, right down to her frustration and her thoughts about God. The romance, though bobbling slightly here and there, is also written well in light of Georgina’s dyslexia and it helps that Colin is almost as interesting as Georgina.

My one small quibble is that Georgina’s insistence that she didn’t want anyone helping her understand Bible passages was played as a strong, good thing to do but felt wrong to me, as if Hunter was dismissing the benefits of having someone wiser help you (especially if you’re just reading the Bible for the first time!). It’s probably not what Hunter meant, but in my opinion Georgina should have gone to someone right at that moment. Her character didn’t need that showing of independence (and, realistically, I think it would actually be more harmful for her, from the things revealed about her).

An Elegant Façade combines interesting characters, good writing, and one of my favorite settings (Regency England) for a delightful, heartwarming story that addresses a topic little spoken of (and especially not in Regency novels). The topic is dealt with respectfully but also in a way that resonates in the setting and in Georgina herself. The romance is also well-done, and overall the book is quite an enjoyable read.

Warnings: None.

Genre: Historical Fiction, Christian

You can buy this here: http://amzn.to/29G7xgf