A cornfield emerges. Walking through its stalks, hands touching the emerging silks, eyes closed–bliss. The silks change to crisp-edged papers. A voice whispers, “If you write it, she will read.”
I doubt that happened to J’nell Ciesielski–or ever will. Still, there’s truth in them thar words! If she writes it, I will read.
Ever since I saw the cover of Among the Poppies (whose title I totally meshed with this one in my interview with J’nell) I’ve been intrigued by J’nell’s books. After reading them, well, I became a rabid fan. Can you blame me?
When I signed up and requested a free review copy of Beauty Among Ruins, I had no idea I’d be chatting with J’nell Ciesielski about her book before it even released.
And folks, have I got stuff to say.
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What Happens When Favorite Authors Take Me to Dream Destinations
I fall in love. Not just with characters and stories, but with the places that stir the imagination and make those stories come alive.
Oh, yes. with her signature style, J’nell Ciesielski leads the reader through more prosaic places like America and London and up into craggy heart of Scotland. Nestled there in a crumbling old manor, WWI soldiers’ minds and bodies are repaired by nurses and aides. And one broken laird will be mended or destroyed in the process.
It just takes a plucky American to nudge him in the right direction.
Seriously, I felt like I was in Scotland throughout the whole book.
Not once did I feel smothered by the heather, crushed by the crags, or blown off the page by the wind whistling through the moors, but I felt as though I were among them! A story rich in layers, depth, and understanding with just the smallest hint of a Jane Eyre-ish tone to parts of it, Beauty Among Ruins does not disappoint in any respect.
Well, it doesn’t now that I understand something. As I said in my blog post that goes with the Because Fiction podcast episode, now that I know the goal and purpose behind Thomas Nelson’s reduction in overt Christian content in their books, I am not as bothered by the lack of it. Would I prefer to learn those lessons alongside Lily and Alec? Yeah!
But knowing that the publisher has made a deliberate effort to provide more subtle Christian content to gently reach an audience that otherwise wouldn’t pick up that book makes me have fewer expectations of them. So, where I’d usually be grumbling about the change in Ms. Ciesielski’s fiction style with her new publisher, now I can acknowledge there’s a purpose to it instead of a lack of purpose in it, so to speak.
Aside from that…
This book is artfully constructed, beautifully written, and it lingers in your mind until you can’t help but reach for it, pick it up again, and reread bits here and there. Be warned, though. The moment you do, you’re likely to find yourself flipping back to the first page of chapter one and starting all over again. You’re likely to lose yourself in this multi-layered story of personal sacrifice, sabotage, and restoration.
Recommended for lovers of historical fiction, exceptional writing, and Scotland. Not recommended for those who are looking for strong, overt Christian content. This book stays subtle but true. So glad I requested a review copy. Even more thrilled to be able to honestly say that I loved it and it’s my favorite of 2021… so far.
Beauty Among Ruins is on tour with Celebrate Lit
About the Book
Book: Beauty Among Ruins
Author: J’Nell Ciesielski
Genre: Historical Romance
Release Date: January 12, 2021
American socialite Lily Durham is known for enjoying one moment to the next, with little regard for the consequences of her actions. But just as she is banished overseas to England as a “cure” for her frivolous ways, the Great War breaks out and wreaks havoc. She joins her cousin in nursing the wounded at a convalescent home deep in the wilds of Scotland at a crumbling castle where its laird is less than welcoming.
Alec MacGregor has given his entire life to preserving his home of Kinclavoch Castle, but mounting debts force him to sell off his family history bit by bit. Labeled a coward for not joining his countrymen in the trenches due to an old injury, he opens his home to the Tommies to make recompense while he keeps to the shadows. But his preference for the shadows is shattered when a new American nurse comes streaming into the castle on a burst of light.
Lily and Alec are thrown together when a series of mysterious events threaten to ruin the future of Kinclavoch. Can they put aside their differences to find the culprit before it’s too late, or will their greatest distraction be falling in love?
About the Author
With a passion for heart-stopping adventure and sweeping love stories, J’nell Ciesielski weaves fresh takes into romances of times gone by. When not creating dashing heroes and daring heroines, she can be found dreaming of Scotland, indulging in chocolate of any kind, or watching old black and white movies. Winner of the INSPY and the Maggie Award, she is a Florida native who now lives in Virginia with her husband, daughter, and a lazy beagle. Learn more at www.jnellciesielski.com.
More from J’Nell
Inspiration for Beauty Among Ruins
Once again, blame it on Downton Abbey. This time on Lady Rose. She was impulsive, spoiled, a free spirit, yet with a good heart. I knew I wanted to take on the challenge of writing a heroine like her. A character who starts off one way and by the end of the book has completely charmed you over. So I started writing and everything was going great until … it wasn’t. The plot just stopped on me.
No matter how hard I tried the story refused to reveal itself to me which is incredibly frustrating for someone who doesn’t like to give up once they’ve started something. But I had to. In the end, I had to put the story, affectionately titled Love on the Limp, away for several months while I wrote The Socialite. Then one day the story clicked. It was meant to be a WWI telling on the classic Beauty and the Beast story. Everything fell into place and the story and characters burst onto the page in glorious technicolor.
Lily and Alec took me by surprise with how much I fell in love with them.
Bubbly Lily and brooding Alec. Never had two more opposites been so perfect for one another (at least in my writing experience). They had so many obstacles to overcome, many of them self-imposed, that I often found myself in tears over their heartaches, but golly gumdrops when they came together, boy oh boy, were there fireworks!
You may have also noticed that the story is set in Scotland because I happen to believe that every good story is set there. I had the privilege of staring at pictures of this breathtaking landscape for months so I could imagine the characters strolling among the heather and watching the river twist through the green moors. To me, nothing rivals the awe-inspiring beauty of a certain place, and hopefully, readers will feel that through these pages.
Through the Fire Blogs, January 27
Fiction Aficionado, January 27
Sara Jane Jacobs, January 27
Wishful Endings, January 28
Genesis 5020, January 28
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, January 28
Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, January 29
lakesidelivingsite, January 29
Reflections From my Bookshelves, January 29
Connect in Fiction, January 30
Connie’s History Classroom, January 30
CarpeDiem, January 30
Artistic Nobody, January 31 (Guest Review from Joni Truex)
Happily Managing a Household of Boys, January 31
Rachael’s Inkwell, January 31
Where Faith and Books Meet, February 1
Rebecca Tews, February 1
Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, February 1
Texas Book-aholic, February 2
As He Leads is Joy, February 2
Robin’s Nest, February 2
Older & Smarter?, February 3
Mypreciousbitsandmusings, February 3
Locks, Hooks and Books, February 3
Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, February 4
Remembrancy, February 4
Inklings and notions, February 4
Mia Reads, February 5
Joanne Markey, February 5
Splashes of Joy, February 5
Mary Hake, February 5
Betti Mace, February 6
The Christian Fiction Girl, February 6
For Him and My Family, February 6
She Lives to Read, February 7
deb’s Book Review, February 7
The Write Escape, February 7
Simple Harvest Reads, February 8 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng)
Novels Corner, February 8
To Everything There Is A Season, February 8
Blossoms and Blessings, February 9
Pause for Tales, February 9
Lis Loves Reading, February 9
To celebrate her tour, J’Nell is giving away the grand prize of a paperback copy of Beauty Among Ruins and an audiobook copy of The Socialite!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.