The Earl Who Sees Her Beauty by Marguerite Kaye
This intriguing Victorian novel isn’t so much a grumpy + sunshine pairing as a grumpy + grumpy. Disillusioned after leaving the army under a cloud, Dominic is rusticating in a Greek village raising goats when he discovers by pure coincidence that his brother has passed away and he has inherited an earldom he wants nothing to do with. He decides to return to England only in order to divest himself of everything to do with the title… but on his first day back on the ancestral estate, he meets a woman who would be incredibly beautiful if she wasn’t terribly scarred.
Prudence hides away from the world as much as possible, avoiding people where she can and wearing a veil when she can’t. There are a couple of incidents in the book where strangers react badly to her scars that made me feel desperately sorry for her; as she notes, scars on men are seen as a sign of heroism, but scars on a woman are viewed as shameful and to be hidden away. Viewing the world through Prudence’s eyes, Dominic eventually comes to realise what a privileged position he’s in, and how wasteful it would be to not use that privilege to enact some of the change he wants to see in the world.
Both the protagonists are in a stagnant state of mind at the beginning of the book; despite coming back to England, Dominic only wants to be rid of his responsibilities, and Prudence has convinced herself that she can’t be anything other than her brother’s housekeeper. They are each other’s catalyst to grow and change, not just in falling in love but in their whole life outlook, and it’s not until both of them have really embraced their potential futures that they can get to their happily ever after.
I love Marguerite Kaye’s writing; she doesn’t shy away from harsh realities of life for the less privileged and writes wonderful characters with absolutely believable romantic relationships. I can hardly wait for Mercy’s book!
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this title via the author.