Review: Romancing the Ugly Duckling by Clare London

DucklingRating: 5 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novel


Perry Goodwood is a fairy godmother of sorts. It’s his job to take people with little or no fashion sense, confidence, or star power and turn them into Cinderellas. And today, standing in his office, are four handsome princes who are asking for the impossible. The Ventura brothers — the soccer star, the playboy, and the twins — are in the running for a television show to become a famous family, much like the Kardashians. The only problem is that the producers want all five of the Ventura brothers. Without their missing brother, they can kiss the television show, and the money it would bring them, goodbye.

Now it’s up to Perry to turn their missing brother, the elusive Greg Ventura, from an ugly duckling into a swan prince worthy of being one of the rich and famous. The only picture Perry has of Greg shows a young man cursed with bad acne, a bad haircut, and in the middle of the most awkward and ungainly growth spurt. It’s not a promising start.

But Perry isn’t only good at his job, he also determined to do his best.  After all, he needs his job, badly. So it’s off to Scotland he goes. Unfortunately, the island of North Uist is rainy, muddy, and far away from civilization as Perry knows it. Not only that, but the team that’s supposed to be with him — hair, makeup, assistants, and producers — didn’t make the plane. In fact, they aren’t coming at all. So it’s just Perry, and only Perry, left to face the grumpiest Ventura brother.

Greg Ventura came to North Uist five years ago, leaving his family far, far behind and the unhappy memories deeply buried. He’s made a new home for himself, and a new family with himself and Rory, his dog. He has everything he needs, from a small croft, paints to paint with, and gorgeous views for inspiration. The last thing he needs is some London city boy trying to get him to reconnect with this brothers who made his childhood hell with their constant, endless bullying. But when Perry arrives on his doorstep, half-drowned and utterly helpless, Greg has no choice but to offer over his spare room. With the two of them in close company, and Perry’s can-do attitude and absolute optimism, Greg finds himself unable to keep the his guest at arm’s length. Especially when Perry fits so much better in his lap.

This is an adorable, cheerful, charming little book that’s a perfect combination of fish out of water and city mouse/country mouse. Perry and Greg have a solid, honest connection that feels sincere and sweet in equal parts.

While Perry is a fashion follower from London who pays attention to celebrity culture and clothing styles, he’s not a shallow person. He’s an extrovert to Greg’s introvert nature, but he never tries to force Greg to come out of his shell. He’s willing to be patient and wait for Greg. Greg, for his part, may be closed-off and uninterested in being on television — and even less interested in reconnecting with his brothers — but he’s not rude enough to be a jerk to Greg.

When they finally settle down to have the talk about what it is Perry and his brothers want from him, Greg is willing to hear him out, but when Greg needs to drop the conversation to get away from unhappy memories, Perry doesn’t push. They’re respectful of each other and they communicate. There’s none of the ”if only they’d talk to each other” plot, which I appreciate so very much.

I adored these two as a couple — the way they complimented each other and supported each other. Their coming together felt easy and natural; it wasn’t love or lust at first sight. It was organic and fun and there was always laughter to go along with their romance. But as much as I enjoyed their relationship, I also enjoyed the world they lived in. The island of Northern Uist is as much a character in this book as Perry or Greg (or Rory). The people, the weather, the peat bog, even the lochs.

While this is part of Dreamspun Desires line, it’s not a direct part of a series. It’s a standalone and one I recommend. The story was well-written, the characters were engaging, and the ending actually felt perfect to me. Greg’s actions, Perry’s reactions, and the final confrontation with Greg’s brothers and Perry’s boss were like Goldilock’s porridge: just right.

A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.

elizabeth sig

Comments

  1. This does sound appealing. I’ve enjoyed one of Clare London’s other titles, so I’m adding this one to my wishlist. Thanks for your enthusiastic review, Elizabeth.

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