The Beautiful One by Emily Greenwood #Review

The Beautiful One by Emily Greenwood #ReviewThe Beautiful One by Emily Greenwood

Series: #1 The Scandalous Sisters
Genres: Historical Romance
on June 2, 2015
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
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three-half-stars  

I found the appeal of a new to me author, first in a new series and the inclusion of a favorite story trope impossible to pass up. I’ve always enjoyed the governess-lord of the manor plot. I had a fairly good time with this one, but it wasn’t a complete win. There was a Jane Eyre feel to it at first which tickled me since I love discovering classical stories peeking out of newer ones.

The story opens with Anna Black, the seamstress for a school for young ladies accompanying one of the students to her guardian after the young lady got herself removed from the school. Anna is more than she seems as the daughter of a respected doctor and naturalist, but she must hide because an unscrupulous artist took advantage of his stay in her father’s home and drew a serious of nudes with her the model. He compiled a book and sold it to a nobleman who shared his new prize so many men have seen and heard of The Beautiful One. She just needs to scrape up the funds necessary to get to the north where she can live in obscurity with her aunt. Unfortunately, the journey is only the beginning and she couldn’t possibly leave her young charge in the hands of the cold, rude man who doesn’t want his guardian at his estate nor her either.

Will Hallifax, Viscount Granville, is still deeply grieving the death of his wife a year from her death. He isolates himself on his main estate finishing projects that his wife set in motion so that he might continue to honor her wishes and keep just a bit of her alive. He has no desire to be invaded by his wife’s niece of whom he is guardian or the outspoken, frumpy looking, companion who challenges him as no one ever does. Anna’s brow-beating and attitude wake Will up like nothing has in a while. Anna and Lizzie are just the first invaders that he has to deal with. He wants to take care of Anna and he knows that she is carrying a secret, but she insists on independence and refuses to let him help. His feelings are engaged and he searches for any reason including using Lizzie if he has to for keeping her there.

Alright, I have impressions of enjoyable scenes, scenes that bugged me, and lots of skimming. The story is mostly divided into Will and Anna narrating, but occasionally Lizzie took over. I liked the switch in narrators. I never quite became an Anna fan. I loved Will, Lizzie, and Tommy. Judith was another that didn’t do it for me. My thing with Judith was though she meant well, she was pushy and assumed she knew best. Anna was very guilty of this, too.

The progression that the author established in her detailing the setting and tone that changed from dismal to happy for the life at the estate was done very well. I enjoyed seeing that progression from stark and bare with little going on beyond work to a house made into a home and laughter and fun returning with tea on the veranda, boat rides, and preparations for a party.

I also loved the inclusion of Lizzie. She’s willful and wayward, but so lonely and just wanting to find love and a home in her uncle. She works so hard to get Will to love her and I was cheering her on. Her skirmishes with Tommy cracked me up. And the loss of temper that made her break Will’s statuary and then hide the evidence was a hoot.

Will’s grief was the key issue that set me off when it came to Judith and Anna pushing him so hard. Maybe I’m looking at this wrong, but I seriously didn’t see the problem with the man living quietly on his estate, puttering around doing physical labor as a release, and mourning his wife. He wasn’t a drunk or a lech and he wasn’t out hurting people or himself. He has a younger brother if he never chooses to remarry and get an heir though its not like he’s on the shelf if he wants to wait a few years to try for another wife. I really couldn’t see the need to force his hand. With those two women, it was like ‘the years up so cut off your feelings, buck up, and get on with my plan for your life’. The only exception was that I was on board with Anna convincing him to take his guardianship responsibilities more personally because Lizzie needed him since she was essentially an orphan. This is a romance so of course I expected that he would move on and love the heroine which he does, but a part of me felt like he should have the right not to love someone else if he wanted, too.

Anna was a character for whom I had little patience. She plays the role of the mouse, but only as long as it suits her which isn’t too long. She’s got opinions about everyone else and butts in, but doesn’t think this should be a reciprocal thing. She hemmed and hawed, holding onto her secret for way to long naively assuming that she knew best and nobody else could help. For all her sass to Will, she is naive at best considering what she is up against. Her hot and cold thing with Will drove me nuts. She would participate in trysts with Will which back then did make one a loose woman, but she couldn’t admit that a guy did a Peeping Tom and drew nudies of her because she was worried about what Will would think. Didn’t make sense to me. I was tired of her in the beginning and stayed that way. I didn’t hate her and I’m glad she was there to make Will happy, but I didn’t exactly take to her either.

Possibly its a mood thing and it very well could be. I didn’t hate this story, but just felt irritated at times. Still, there were a few high points, too. The promised sharp witty dialogue between the sassy governess and the forbidding Lord of the Manor was an element I liked as was the tension and attraction. I thought the humor was deftly done and sprinkled through out.

All in all, I liked the story enough that I would recommend it to fans of passionate Historical Romance lovers.

My thanks to Sourcebooks Casablanca for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review.

Romance Roundabout #213 HR

Cliché Klatch #128 ‘Taking a page from her book’

Historical Romance #50

New to Me #110

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I was born and raised near Sacramento, CA. I have read since I was four years old and developed tastes that run the gamut of literature. I went away to college and have a degree in education, a certificate in family history research, and a certificate in social work. I worked for a non-profit agency with low income families for 20 years which included being responsible for the children’s library and promoting/teaching adult literacy. I have lived in Southeast Michigan for the last 18 years and I am currently a book addicted homemaker with a cat and husband who keep me grounded. Recently, I made it a challenge to review each book that I have read as a favor to author friends who said reviews are important. I have done reviews for Good Reads, Amazon, eBay, and Smashwords, but mostly at Goodreads and Amazon.
  • I don’t know if it’s the perspective of a change in decade for me at the end of the year, but the more I read romances, the less I feel patient with that type of character – they tend to spoil the whole story for me. And that’s too bad because I love that story trope too and Jane Eyre is my favorite book ever ! Thanks for sharing, Sophia, I’m sorry it wasn’t as good as you hoped but I see you had some fun times 🙂

    • I wonder if that’s the same for me. As I get older, I am less patient and see things differently. But yes, there were some good times sprinkled in there, Iza.

      Jane Eyre is an all-time fav for me, too.

  • Anna seems a bit of an assbackward character, ya know? Like, I dunno bout you guys, but if it were ME and even during that time period…I’d probably just embrace the whole nude book thing and not look back. At that point, who cares? If shes willing to sleep around with men then just get on with it and admit your problem. Wow, that’s kinda shotty they were pushing the poor guy. Only a year to mourn his wife is pretty sad. I’m glad you enjoyed the story even though Anna didn’t click right for you! Nice review:D

    • I love the way you call it like you see it, Lanie. Yeah, that about says it.

  • Lindy Gomez

    I can see how you got irritated with the push-pull, hot-cold, and bossy, know-it-all personality of Anna, and Judith sounds o better. I agree that Will should have been allowed to mourn for as long as he needed to. I’m glad that there were aspects of the story that you enjoyed as well such as Lizzie’s character, witty banter, and chemistry between the main characters! Great Review Sophia 🙂

    Lindy@ A Bookish Escape

    • Yes, I did, but there were tons of good things going on, too, Lindy!

  • I have been curious about this book. Not sure I would want to try it out though, especially with this heroine, I am pickier about historical romance than I used to be, but many of the newer historical authors, can be a hit or miss for me. But what I do like about this story is Will, he sounds just wonderful to read, and I do enjoy witty banter, so maybe when I get in the mood for a story like this one, I will pick it out. Hope you are enjoying your weekend!!

    • I know what you mean about picking and choosing more so than before. I loved seeing the hero’s progressing from cold and lonely to lively with his niece and the others around him. I liked him and Anna together even if she annoyed me at times.