Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Ambitious fashionista Perry Goodwood lands the project of his dreams—track down a celebrity family’s missing brother in the Scottish Highlands and bring him back to London for a TV reality show. But first he must transform the rugged loner into a glamorous sophisticate.
Greg Ventura has no use for high fashion. He lives on the isolated island of North Uist to escape the reminder that he’s nowhere near as handsome as his gorgeous brothers and avoid the painful childhood memories of being bullied.
Greg wants nothing to do with city life, and Perry’s never been outside London. When Perry is stranded on North Uist, this conflict seems insurmountable. But Greg is captivated by the vivacious Perry, and Perry by both the island and his host. However, Perry’s one heartfelt wish remains: that ugly duckling Greg fulfill his potential as a swan.
Romancing the Ugly Duckling (Romancing the… #2) by Clare London is everything I look for in a contemporary romance and more. Beautifully written, great characters, fantastic storytelling! I fell completely in love with every aspect of Clare London’s tale, from the characters to the location (especially the location) to the plot. This is one of those stories I just wanted to add on a star or plus sign because the characters touched me so.
Told from both Perry and Greg’s povs, the blurb doesn’t give the reader any idea of the bad situation Perry is in when given the assignment by his boss to track down the estranged brother of a popular “pop/media” family to bring him back into the fold for a TV reality show. Perry is in a bad situation at home, due to an ex-boyfriend and the stress at work, the family is a challenge to work with and the place he must travel to? An unknown factor to Perry.
Greg Ventura left family, his brothers and their bullying behind, preferring life on the isolated isle of North Uist. There he’s made a life without tvs or media and even phone for the most part. So it’s not surprising he’s unaware of the arrival on the island of one Perry Goodwood, there to bring him home and make him over. But Perry’s arrived under the worst conditions, Greg’s not only what he not expected but he’s refusing all offers and Perry’s stuck. It’s such a engaging situation and London makes it magical.
North Uist is a featured player here along with all its inhabitants and local charm. It pulls the reader in as thoroughly as it did Greg and it does Perry, the landscape’s harsh beauty combining with the warm-hearted, enveloping nature of the villagers and the isolation provide a enchantment that serves as a solid foundation for story and romance. I wanted to find a plane, then a ferry, and then immerse myself in life here as well. It’s as real to me as anywhere I’ve ever visited and the pull here feels true.
With North Uist as the background, having two main characters such as Perry and Grey, well, the story becomes irresistible imo. Greg has been so wounded by his family, his brothers specifically. Constantly belittled and bullied, made to feel ugly and not wanted, that mindset became a permanent part of his emotional and mental state. He’s withdrawn to the island, almost hiding thinking himself unworthy in so many ways, unable to see himself as others do. That he has friends who look after him, trying to pull him into the meager social life of the isle is testament that they see him far more clearly than he sees himself. Greg is a wonderfully constructed character and watching the layers peel away here is a true joy of this story.
Perry also is a bundle of pleasing depth. Interested about everything, outgoing, he finds himself embracing the island and its people to his surprise. And Greg too. From Greg’s introduction (and his stone cottage and his dog) to Perry, we are both completely lost in their relationship. Perry is intelligent, charming and perceptive. He’s a great match for Greg, and for the island itself. He just has to figure that out.
But it’s not just the main characters, it’s all the other people you meet here. From Bridie, Greg’s friend, Greg’s dog Rory, the people at the pub, Marty who gets the fresh scallops and so many others, you’ll feel like you’ve known these people for a lifetime. You get tangled up in the lives of island, how it’s lived…how they share it together. It’s a strength here as well as the fear from the parents that all the young people will be lost to the mainland. I don’t know…I just can’t say enough about this entire story.
Yes, I can. I didn’t want it to end. I could have happily stayed there, watching these men live out their lives among friends. I wanted to see that too. Leaving that place left me sort of heartbroken. I wasn’t ready. But I was so happy to have read it in the first place. You will be too. I’m putting Romancing the Ugly Duckling (Romancing the… #2) by Clare London on my highly recommended list. Don’t miss this one!
Cover art by Bree Archer is perfect with the island in the back and Perry in the front.
ebook, Dreamspun Desires #36, 260 pages
Expected publication: June 15th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
Original TitleRomancing the Ugly Duckling
Series Romancing the… #2 settingScotland