The Earl Who Sees Her Beauty
The Earl Who Sees Her Beauty is a well-researched but sometimes groan-worthy book. It’s not bad at all, and the relationship between the hero and heroine is well done, but some plot details and pacing issues kept this at a B level for me.
Prudence Carstairs was scarred in an accident as a child and has learned to be inventive about covering the part of her face which has been marked with bonnets and veils. She has taken the job of looking after Hawthorn Manor, and her employer allows her to improve the home with fresh gadgets and new inventions (like the shower bath she has plumbed herself), and she’s re-modelled the house and generally done many things to make it new and more modern. No man would ever marry a girl with a scarred visage (or so she’s told herself) – even the reclusive old Earl of Bannatyne, the house’s former owner, shuddered at her uncovered face. So she’s contented herself by living with her brother and avoiding the townsfolk, who are rude about her scarring. Then one day, stumbles upon a very handsome and very naked man taking a bath in her employer’s home.
Dominic Thornburn, the newly minted Earl of Bannatyne, has inherited both Hawthorn Manor and his late brother’s title. It’s an awkward time untangling just what Dominic’s doing in the house and why Prudence, too, is there, but eventually they straighten things out. Dominic went through his own trials in the military, and was dishonorably discharged for refusing to back down. The shame of this continues to haunt him to the point where he has changed his given name, and he now has to learn to run the estate he has inherited.
Prudence goes about teaching Dominic how to manage the land, and Dominic comes to admire both her form and her gumption. But no man could ever defy society and love a woman as independent and imperfect as Prudence, could they?
Well, of course they could, but Prudence has convinced herself she will never marry or have children, so it takes a lot of work for Dominic to get through to her. He, too, thinks of himself as unworthy thanks to his own sharp tongue having cost himself so much. They make a warm and interesting couple, and their courtship is pleasant. There is some mild heat between them, but nothing that made my heart pound.
What’s interesting is that Kaye allows Prudence to declare that her “scars define her” but that she doesn’t have to define herself by what others think of her. That’s a fascinating dichotomy that I wish had been explored more in the novel.
I had to mark this down from a B+ due to the book’s incredibly corny reliance on referential humor. There is an entire subplot about how Prudence was ill-named (we get it, she’s not prudent! Not shy, nor reserved, nor…) and DominIC isn’t at all DominANT, or so the joke goes. This drags on and on and on, and gets goofier as the novel goes on. Also, Kaye closes the novel with a direct title quote that made me roll my eyes.
Otherwise I have no major complaints, and the author’s research is, as always, carefully applied. The Earl Who Sees Her Beauty is a shade corny, but still sweet.