J’Nell Ciesielski’s ‘Beauty Among Ruins’ is Reminiscent of the Great Love Stories of Yesteryear [REVIEW]

Scottish castle
The future of a Scottish laird’s ancestral home is threatened in J’Nell Ciesielski’s Beauty Among Ruins. (Photo courtesy Canva)

She’s a frivolous American socialite. He’s a crusty Scottish laird. When their paths meet at his family’s home during the Great War, no one would guess that love could ever blossom between them. But can they make any mutual attraction they share last? Find out in J’Nell Ciesielski’s new historical novel, Beauty Among Ruins.

J'Nell Ciesielski's BEAUTY AMONG RUINS
Thomas Nelson

Lily Durham knows how to have a good time. Always the belle of the ball, she’s beautiful, wealthy, and carefree. Which is exactly why her parents have shipped her off to Europe, hoping that she will finally grow up and learn that she can’t simply follow every whim that strikes her fancy. After all, everything one does comes with some price, she’s just never had to pay it before.

Although a trip to Europe may seem like vacation, it becomes anything but that when the Great War breaks out and consumes the globe. Suddenly, Lily finds her days of parties and frivolity have come to an abrupt halt as she studies to be a nurse’s aid and begins working with her cousin Bertie, comforting the wounded in the wilds of Scotland. At crumbling Kinclavoch Castle she tends to her patients, where she encounters the head of the hospital, Matron Strom, and the cantankerous laird of the estate, Alec MacGregor. She doesn’t get off on the right foot with either of them.

But MacGregor’s not a happy man. Since his father’s death, he’s spent his life trying to preserve his home and its history, but as debts mount, he’s forced to sell it off piece by piece. It doesn’t help his demeanor much that he also can’t participate in the greatest battle the world has ever seen due to old injuries he earned in a riding accident, a fact which causes tongues to wag and people to think him a coward. Alec doesn’t like being judged, so he opens his home to the wounded Tommies in an effort to do his part. Still, being generous doesn’t mean he has to like it.

When Lily arrives on the scene as a nurse, beautiful and radiant, she intrigues him, and he feels himself being gradually drawn out of seclusion. Their fledgling “relationship” is given a swift nudge when a series of mysterious events threaten the future of Alec’s ancestral home, and now they must work together to find the culprit before it is too late. As different as Alec and Lily are, they find themselves irresistibly drawn toward one another. Could it be true love? Or is the excitement of the chase just getting to them?

This historical romance is reminiscent of the great love stories of yesteryear, tales like Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and even Rebecca. Populated by both likable and mysterious characters haunted by their own pasts, Ciesielski paints a wholesome love story that portrays two people who evolve dramatically over time. Lily never means any harm, even when her antics get her into trouble early on, while the weight of Alec’s circumstances burdens him down and makes him less than cheerful. Together, they find reasons to change, themselves and one another, and it makes for a transformative tale readers are destined to fall in love with.

The old castle and the Scottish setting definitely don’t hurt this story either. Both are charming and romantic in their own rites, and it creates the perfect atmosphere for both a befuddling mystery and an unforgettable love story. The secondary characters lend a lot of color here as well! With a hospital full of patients and nursing staff, not to mention the locals living nearby, they all help to keep the action moving. All in all, Beauty Among Ruins is a powerful, redemptive story that is languidly drawn. It unfolds even as the world is on fire, and provides a great escape that will linger in your mind long after you return it to the shelf.

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J'Nell Ciesielski
J’Nell Ciesielski


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 Romance Through the Ages Award and the Maggie Award, she is a Florida native who now lives in Virginia with her husband, daughter, and lazy beagle.

For more information, visit jnellciesielski.com, like her on Facebook, and follow her on Instagram and Twitter.

By J’Nell Ciesielski
368 pp. Thomas Nelson. $16.99.

TLC Book Tours Tour Host

Buy Beauty Among Ruins direct from Jathan & Heather Books, or from one of these other fine online retailers: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million, Half Price Books, Hudson Booksellers, IndieBound, Powell’s, Target, Thomas Nelson, and Walmart.

Beauty Among Ruins is brought to you in association with TLC Book Tours.

About Jathan Fink
Jathan is a journalist, philanthropist, and entrepreneur. He is also a travel junkie, foodie and jazz aficionado. A California native, he resides in Texas.

5 Responses to J’Nell Ciesielski’s ‘Beauty Among Ruins’ is Reminiscent of the Great Love Stories of Yesteryear [REVIEW]

  1. Pingback: J’nell Ciesielski, author of BEAUTY AMONG RUINS, on tour January/February 2021 | TLC Book Tours

  2. Sara Strand says:

    I’ve been looking for more historical romance to read and this sounds like it needs to be my next read. Thank you for being on this tour! Sara @ TLC Book Tours

  3. J'nell Ciesielski says:

    Thank you for such a wonderful review! I’m so delighted that you enjoyed Alec and Lily’s story!

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