Stevie‘s review of The Look of Love (The Matchmaker of Edinburgh, Book 1) by Julia Kelly
Historical Romance published by Pocket Star 09 Oct 17
It’s no secret that I love Edinburgh, but for such a beautiful city with so many centuries of history, it’s surprising that more historical romances aren’t set there. Julia Kelly looks set to rectify the situation a little, however, with a new Victorian-set series revolving around the clients and friends of one Moira Sullivan, matchmaker. Her first challenge is how to arrange the romantic affairs of one friend with no desire to be wed, and another with only one bride in mind, especially given the various scandals the pair seem destined to fall into.
Ina Duncan is an accomplished sculptor, frustrated at the lack of recognition her talent garners due to her gender. As an heiress, and the daughter of an eccentric recluse and a notoriously immoral mother, Ina sees no reason why she should marry – believing, in fact, that a husband would only impede her ambitions – and is blissfully unaware that her best friend, and friend also to her father, Gavin Barrett, is deeply in love with her. At one of Moira’s parties, Ina slips away from the main room in search of a painting by a female artist she admires, and finds herself trapped by an obnoxious, aging rake. He threatens to ruin what little good reputation Ina possesses in Edinburgh society, but Gavin and Moira step in with a solution: Ina can marry Gavin and he will see that not only will her reputation remain secure, but he will aid her in her ambitions to exhibit a piece at the Royal Sculpture Society’s exhibition.
Gavin and Ina agree to a marriage of convenience, in which Ina will continue with her artistic endeavours, while Gavin – already a published author, currently working as a journalist – continues to write. Fate intervenes when Gavin receives news that his father and elder brother have been killed in an accident, and he is now required to return to England and the home of his estranged family to take up the duties that come with a title he never expected or wanted to inherit.
Ina is devastated to leave Edinburgh, her father, and her studio, but is horrified when she meets Gavin’s mother, not to mention his widowed sister-in-law: the woman Gavin was once in love with, who threw him over in favour of his brother’s better prospects. Gavin’s mother, in her turn, despises Ina and wants nothing more than for Gavin to extract himself from that marriage in order to wed his previous love, who seems far more suited to the role of Lady Barrett.
I loved this book with its themes of how one can be torn between passion and duty in so many ways. Gavin is such an obliging hero, even as he tries to repair the damage wrought on the estate he has inherited, and on the lives of his tenants, by the neglect of its former overseers. Ina meanwhile is a thoroughly independent soul, who nevertheless cares deeply for her friend as well as for her home and her art. It was pure joy to see how all the seemingly insurmountable difficulties were resolved for the pair, and I’m greatly looking forward to the next book in this enchanting series.
Discover the first installment in the new delightfully charming Scottish romance series where the matchmaker of Edinburgh uses her uncanny abilities to create the perfect matches—even if the couples are doubtful they’ll ever find love.
An accomplished sculptor with secret ambitions, Ina Duncan has managed to avoid marriage for years until an accidental encounter at a party leaves her near ruin and in need of a husband. Fast. Determined to find a willing husband for Ina, Edinburgh’s most powerful matchmaker, Moira Sullivan, quickly realizes that the solution to Ina’s problem might be right in front of her.
Ina’s best friend, Gavin Barrett, has a secret no one knows: he’s loved her for years. As the second son of a baronet, however, he knows he has little chance with his brilliant, beautiful friend. All that changes when Moira convinces Ina to propose a marriage of convenience to Gavin to save her from ruin. Ina only wants two things from him in return: a vow she can continue to sculpt and a promise they’ll remain in Edinburgh.
After a rocky start, happiness—and maybe passion—seems on the horizon for the newlyweds until a twist of fate bestows the title of Sir Barrett on Gavin and forces him to assume responsibilities he’s never wanted. Forced to mold herself into the perfect baronet’s wife, Ina must choose between her dreams and the man she’s learning to love.
Read an excerpt.