The Ugly Duckling Debutante by Rachel Van Dyken
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I wrote a review, but my mom borrowed my computer and closed the browser before I saved it. My fault for not saving it. I wasn't that happy with the review, so here's my second chance.
I enjoyed this book a lot, and it almost got five stars, but things sort of fell apart around the climax. I don't like manufactured drama, and the blowup near the end felt like that to me. While I agree that keeping secrets from people and being dishonest is wrong, it was clear that the situation that makes Renwick blow up at Sara could have easily been resolved with a long discussion. That's why my rating went down to four stars.
Otherwise, this is a feel good Regency romance that makes me remember how much I love reading historical romance. Renwick is actually a Rake hero that I felt sorry and sympathetic for. He actually did all the rakish things that hurt his reputation, and what he did was pretty bad. But he suffered for it, was repentant about it and turned over a new leaf. Laying eyes on Sara was testing his resolve in the worst way. Sara was raised to believe she was as ugly as sin, and when people said she wasn't normal, she winced. The truth was she was ridiculously gorgeous. That reminded me of Lord Dain from Lord of Scoundrels, who believes he's ugly, but is merely gorgeous in an unconventional way. Sara's lack of self esteem is understandable, but I like that she is feisty too. She doesn't let Renwick walk all over her, although she is definitely susceptible to his allure (and who could blame her?).
I liked the humor a lot and the chemistry between Renwick and Sara is dazzling. They can't seem to keep their hands off each other. This is a fade to black kind of romance, and I did miss love scenes. I don't always have to have them, but in this case, the missing love scenes were a bit of a let down. I really rooted for their happy ending together, and that's part of why the Big Miss was so annoying to me. Fortunately, the story finds its feet and the ending is so lovely, with an awesome epilogue.
I would recommend this series to Kindle/ebook readers looking for good romance that you might never find in the print section of your bookstore and library. Renwick is scrumptious and not to be missed by those readers who have a weakness for rakes of the reformed or soon-to-be-reformed variety. Sara is the kind of historical heroine you can't help but love.
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