Last year I read one of Josi S Kilpack’s sweet historical romances and I thought it was a nice read with a lot of potential. I added a few of her other novels to my TBR list after reading Rakes and Roses so when this one came up for review I thought I would continue with the series. Rakes and Roses was the third in the Mayfield Family series and this one, Love and Lavender is the fourth.
If you enjoy sweet romances you will no doubt recognize Kilpack’s name as she has written quite a few historical romances as well as a few mystery novels. She has a knack for writing interesting main characters with believable romances and Shadow Mountain Publishing is my go to publishing house for proper/sweet romances so if you are a fan of that genre be sure to check them out.
I picked this one up while I was out of town at a weightlifting meet and I was eager to have something positive and quick to read through. Something that would be a little bit fluff and a little bit feel good to distract me. While this was a feel good read with a positive outcome, I didn’t feel like it was ‘fluffy’. It did have quite a bit of substance to it, while it wasn’t necessarily ‘heavy’ it had a range of content to draw on which was nice.
Hazel Stillman is a woman of rare independence and limited opportunities. Born with a clubbed foot, she was sent away as a child and, knowing her disability means a marriage is unlikely, she devoted herself to scholarship and education.
Now working as a teacher in an elite private girls’ school, she is content with the way her story has unfolded. When her uncle Elliott Mayfield presents her with the prospect of a substantial inheritance if she marries, Hazel is offended. What kind of decent man would marry for her money? Besides, she loves her freedom as a professional, respected woman. When she hears rumors of the school possibly being sold, however, she knows she must consider all her options.
Duncan Penhale has a brilliant mind and thrives on order and process. He does not expect to marry because he likes his solitary life, shared only with his beloved cat. When Elliott Mayfield, his guardian’s brother, presents him with an inheritance if he marries a woman of social standing, Duncan finds it intrusive. However, with the inheritance, he could purchase the building in which he worksand run his own firm. It would take an impressive and intellectual woman to understand and love him, quirks and all.
Hazel and Duncan believe they have found a solution to both of their problems: marry one another, receive their inheritances, and then part ways to enjoy their individual paths. But when Uncle Mayfield stipulates that they must live together as husband and wife for one year before receiving their inheritances, Hazel and Duncan reluctantly agree. Over time, their marriage of convenience becomes much more appealing than they had anticipated. At the end of the full year, will they go their separate ways or could an unlikely marriage have found unsuspecting love?
In romances, enemies to lovers is always my favorite troupe—however, fake relationships/marriage of convenience lands a close second. This was one of the biggest things I was looking forward to in this novel! In this one I liked Hazel and Duncan together from the very beginning and could clearly see that they had a mutual respect and connection that made sense as a reason for marrying one another to essentially help each other get what they both wanted. It also helped really set up a solid foundation for their romantic intentions when that time came. I felt invested in their relationship especially through their early letters to one another at the beginning. I love letter writing between couples and could really see their attraction and respect for one another in those letters.
One thing that I thought was interesting in this book that added a lot of depth was Hazel was born with a clubbed foot. Having a character that has endured a physical deformity in a historical novel is almost unheard of. Almost every historical romance I’ve read the woman is young, vibrant, and atypically beautiful. Sometimes the man might have suffered some kind of disfigurement or injury but the woman is almost always shown as perfect. In this novel I love how our main character has a physical deformity that she has to essentially work through and has impacted her life quite a bit. I also loved how Duncan basically didn’t see it that way and ultimately that made me love him right off the bat in this book.
but Kilpack doubled down on this book with her characters as Duncan had his own set of limitations and disabilities that were different than what Hazel had to deal with physically. I loved how the author really incorporated unique characters with limitations into this one and I think a lot of readers will find an endearing plot with wonderfully drawn characters. The characters for me were more complex and developed that I was expecting in a romance and it was both refreshing and fun to read about Duncan and Hazel. If you are a historical romance fan you need to get this one on your radar immediately! It was a wonderful read!
Book Info and Rating
Genre: Historical Romance, Regency Romance, Inspirational Fiction
Publisher: Shadow Mountain Publishing (November 2, 2021)L
ength: (320) pages
Format: Trade paperback, eBook, & audiobook
Tour Dates: November 1-28, 2021
Rating: 4 stars
“What a lovely romance. The historical details, the depth of the authentic characters, and the realistic dialogue all contribute to an immersive story. [A] beautiful and inspirational story about loving people just as they are.”— Katie Jackson, Regency Proofreading
“Phenomenal. This book was phenomenal. The very best in the series.”— Lyssa Armstrong, For Where Your Treasure Is
“This love story was unique and such an uncommon take on a marriage of convenience! [S]weet and well worth the wait!”— Ashley Johnson, Bringing Up Books
“Beautifully written, sensitive, poignant addition to the Mayfield Family series.”— Susan K., The Flipped Page
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Josi S. Kilpack has written more than thirty novels, a cookbook, and several novellas. She is a four-time Whitney award winner, including Best Novel 2015 for “Lord Fenton’s Folly, and has been a Utah Best of State winner for Fiction. Josi loves to bake, sleep, eat, read, travel, and watch TV–none of which she gets to do as much as she would like. She writes contemporary fiction under the pen name Jessica Pack.
Josi has four children and lives in Northern Utah.