Monday, November 14, 2022

Review: Adjacent But Only Just by Nichole Van

My rating: 5 stars / It was amazing


Viola Brodure, gentlewoman and celebrated authoress, faces a personal dilemma suited for a novel—everyone wishes for her to make a love match with Ethan Penn-Leith, the famous Highland Poet. And by everyone, she means everyone—her father, her adoring readers, the gossip columnists, and her patron, the overbearing Duke of Kendall. Why, even Queen Victoria herself has given a nod of approval to the match. After all, the popular novelist and the famous poet are the perfect heroine and hero for their own love story. A literary dynasty waiting to be born.

The problem, of course, is that Viola has never met Ethan, not in the flesh, at least. She has read about him and devoured his poetic writings, but does the man himself live up to his dashing reputation?

Malcolm Penn-Leith exists in twilight. He manages his farm, Thistle Muir, in the shadow of the Scottish Highlands. As the older brother of the renowned Ethan Penn-Leith, Malcolm tends to his prized cows while Ethan basks in the limelight. Harder still, Malcolm lives under a cloud of grief after the death of his wife five years ago.

But then Miss Viola Brodure arrives in Malcolm’s wee village, intent on meeting Ethan and beginning a courtship. Viola—petite, blond, shy, and English—is nothing like Malcolm’s late wife. And yet, Viola awakens a piece of his heart that he thought lost in the abyss of his grief.

For her part, Viola is surprised to find herself more attracted to the stoic Malcolm than the charming Ethan. So now what? She isn’t meant to fall in love with the man adjacent to Ethan Penn-Leith. That’s not the plot she had outlined. After all, Malcolm and Viola are not the match made in heaven that everyone wishes to see. As social pressures mount, can Malcolm and Viola overcome the weight of his past and the expectations of her future to forge a new path together?

Please note that the basic elements of this story first appeared in a novella entitled A Ring of Gold. This current novel is a greatly-expanded adaptation of that novella.

My Review

Oh my heart! I loved this story when I read it as a novella, and the author has enriched it so much in this full length novel. I'm so happy that she has expanded it to an entire series to include the stories of all the Penn-Leith siblings. In the first book of the series we see Malcolm's personality before it is altered by his intense grief. I loved that glimpse into his past, and in this book he is emerging from the darkness, changed, yet with the same foundation. It's no wonder Viola is drawn to his thoughtful and gentle maturity that contrasts with his brother Ethan's flighty gregariousness. She and Malcolm have a sweetly intense chemistry and I loved their special moments together as they acknowledge the bond and connection they feel. Viola faces pressure to conform to the expectations and standards of others, but the landscape of the highlands and Malcolm's quiet encouragement gives her the courage to grasp the freedom that she so desperately desires. I love the poetry woven into the story and the influence it has on the characters. I'm earnestly awaiting the next book in this enthralling series!

Disclosure statement: A complimentary copy of this book was provided from a tour group, publisher, publicist, or author, including NetGalley, OR was borrowed from the library, including OverDrive, OR borrowed from Kindle Unlimited, OR purchased. A review was not required and all views and opinions expressed are unbiased and my own.

Don't miss the first book in the Penn-Leiths of Thistle Muir series . . .

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