Desert Isle Keeper
An Elegant Façade
I’m generally wary of Inspirational Romances. While I certainly appreciate faith as an integral part of the lives of many, I have found too many inspirational romances to be saccharine and overwrought. An Elegant Façade, however, is neither of those. Ms. Hunter deftly handles the integration of her character’s faith into the fabric of their personhoods, while telling a truly beautiful story.
Readers were first introduced to our heroine, Georgina, in the first book of this series, A Noble Masquerade. I know many readers are tired of series where one is forced to read the books in order, so rest assured that while these stories are connected, they are stand-alones. In fact, I didn’t even know this was a book in a series when I volunteered to review it and had no trouble whatsoever losing myself in the world Ms. Hunter has created.
Lady Georgina Hawthorne has dedicated her life to becoming an Incomparable in the year of her society debut. While certainly an unparalleled beauty, she is aware there is more to attaining the perfect match than just her good-looks. Therefore, she has dedicated her life to being the perfect prospective bride. This includes maintaining an icy exterior and not allowing emotional intimacy with anyone, save her beloved lady’s maid. Her siblings are kept at arm’s length, especially her sister Miranda.
Our hero is Colin McCrae, a Glaswegian business genius with all the right connections and all the wrong ancestors. Brought into this story as the best friend of the original suitor Georgina sets her sights upon, he knows immediately he is not a prospect for the status-hunting debutante. This frees him, instead, to be her friend. Of course, Georgina has no idea how to be friends with anyone and is bewildered by this man who is so comfortable and confident in himself.
I was frustrated with Georgina at first, for sure. I didn’t connect with her for the first part of the book and could not understand what Ms. Hunter was getting at with her. Colin was immediately an engaging hero and I began to be defensive of him – why do I want him to end up with this cold, heartless woman!? But then Ms. Hunter began to peel back Georgina’s layers and she became real.
Georgina is unable to read. Let that sink in. In an age where accomplished young women were expected to attend things like poetry readings, and to correspond with everyone they have ever met, Lady Georgina Hawthorne can neither read nor write. She has never let anyone in on the secret, except for her lady’s maid who is in charge of helping Georgina maintain the subterfuge.
As Ms. Hunter explores the paralyzing fear this gives Georgina, all of her decisions make sense. She must have a rich husband who is highly placed in society so that she can maintain her deception. She must keep everyone at an arm’s length because the shame and fear overwhelms her. Instead of hating her as I was expecting to, I wanted to crawl inside the book and hold her as she sobbed.
Of course, Colin is the first one who figures this out and watching the two of them learn to trust each other is beautiful. This is a slow burn romance; but it feels authentic for these characters and this world.
Additionally, I’d like to touch briefly on the religious aspect as this is classified as an inspirational Romance. For all the characters, except Georgina, attending church and reading the Bible and seeking the guidance from each is very important. Colin is careful to live by his Christianity-informed ethic in all business decisions and uses language in his PoVs that communicates to readers the importance of his faith. None of this is done in a way which feels preachy or evangelical. Instead, Ms. Hunter is presenting people for whom this is important and making no statements about anyone for whom it is not.
I would wholeheartedly recommend An Elegant Façade to anyone looking for a warm and genuine romance, where the heroine’s inner journey is as much of a focus as the romance story. I plan on going back and picking up the first in the series (which is now a RITA award winner!) and am definitely anticipating the next instalment.