Saturday, May 18, 2019

Review: The Beauty (Ladies of Miss Bell's Finishing School) by Rebecca Connolly

My rating: 3 stars / I liked it


Caroline Perkins cannot claim much in her life other than the dowry her uncle arranged for her and her physical beauty. Raised on the London docks, she bears the burden of being a tradesman’s daughter, and not one of respectability. In leaving Miss Bell’s School for Young Ladies, Caroline is leaving the only friends she has known and the only safe place she has lived. But she knows her companionship with Lady Ashby could give her the connections and opportunities she needs to secure a good future for herself. If her past does not return to haunt her present and future, that is.

Will Debenham isn’t certain what he is looking for in his life, but from the moment he sees Caroline Perkins, he is certain he has found it. Every interaction with her only enhances the feeling, and every day in her company makes him want her more. But can the son of an earl really marry a tradesman’s daughter? Or will station, birth, and Caroline’s own resistance keep them apart?

My Review

This is a sweet Regency story, but I wished for more in the way of plot and personality. The focus of the book is on Caroline's role as companion and her opportunity to find a husband as such. She was a bland character, and even as I attempted to find more interesting attributes about her, Will described her perfectly: "You are always so calm, so stalwart, so unaffected. You possess an unnatural serenity." She does feel the insults of others keenly, but instead of standing up for herself, she accepts it and even internalizes the belief that she is of less worth and undeserving. I was disappointed that she didn't have more of a backbone, although this is probably realistic of many women of the time who are victims of the precedence of status and birth in society. Will sees beyond all that and cherishes her for her beauty and grace, despite her unfortunate circumstances. My issue with him is that he observed her abuse and didn't do much to stand up for her either. He struggles with his desire to break out of his role as a gentleman, but doesn't take the opportunity to do so when she is in need of his help. I kept reading to the end to see how their happy ending would come about, and the final scene was lovely and emotional.

(I received a complimentary copy of the book; all opinions in this review are my own)

Ladies of Miss Belle's Finishing School series:

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