Historical Fiction Book Review: Beauty among Ruins

About the Book

Book:  Beauty Among Ruins 

Author: J’nell Ciesielski 

Genre: Historical Fiction 

Publisher: Thomas Nelson 

Release Date: January 12, 2021

Click here to purchase a copy of this novel. 

Publisher's Book Description

"American socialite Lily Durham is known for enjoying one moment to the next, with little regard for the consequences of her actions. But just as she is banished overseas to England as a “cure” for her frivolous ways, the Great War breaks out and wreaks havoc. She joins her cousin in nursing the wounded at a convalescent home deep in the wilds of Scotland at a crumbling castle where its laird is less than welcoming. 

Alec MacGregor has given his entire life to preserving his home of Kinclavoch Castle, but mounting debts force him to sell off his family history bit by bit. Labeled a coward for not joining his countrymen in the trenches due to an old injury, he opens his home to the Tommies to make recompense while he keeps to the shadows. But his preference for the shadows is shattered when a new American nurse comes streaming into the castle on a burst of light. 

Lily and Alec are thrown together when a series of mysterious events threatens to ruin the future of Kinclavoch. Can they put aside their differences to find the culprit before it’s too late, or will their greatest distraction be falling in love?"

My Review

Beautifully written, richly detailed, and thoughtfully composed, Beauty among Ruins, by J’nell Ciesielski, is an utterly entertaining novel. Captivating characters, relevant themes, and a riveting plot make this historical romance as lovely as it is fascinating. With a superb blend of romance, history, and mystery, this book is wholly intriguing and enjoyable.  


Within the pages of this novelMs. Ciesielski's writing talent is evident and enthralling. With a lyrically descriptive style, Ms. Ciesielski offers a compelling story that is clever and engaging. Central to this story is the timeworn Scottish castle that serves as the main setting. Often just as significant and memorable as the characters themselves, this expansive castle and its verdant surroundings provide a stunning backdrop for many of the novel’s most vital scenes.  

Enhanced by immersive writing and an unforgettable setting, this book also creatively and effectively explores the themes of courage, survival, love, honor, and purpose through a cast of unique characters who are vividly developed. Throughout the novel, their beliefs, motivations, fears, desires, and choices hold genuine purpose and meaning. In the face of danger and uncertainty, they persevere, and their hearts awaken to unexpected possibilities and renewed hope. 

Beauty among Ruins is a story of grace, trust, truth, and redemptionIt is an emotional-stirring, thought-provoking, and truly satisfying novel. From beginning to end, I was thoroughly enchanted by this well-written story. This is certainly a book worthy of being noticed, savored, and revisited. I recommend it wholeheartedly. 

*I was given a copy of this novel from the publisher and Celebrate Lit. A review was not required. The review I have written is voluntary and contains opinions that are entirely my own.

About the Author: J'nell Ciesielski

With a passion for heart-stopping adventure and sweeping love stories, J’nell Ciesielski weaves fresh takes into romances of times gone by. When not creating dashing heroes and daring heroines, she can be found dreaming of Scotland, indulging in chocolate of any kind, or watching old black and white movies. Winner of the INSPY and the Maggie Award, she is a Florida native who now lives in Virginia with her husband, daughter, and lazy beagle.

Click here to visit J'nell Ciesielski's website.

More from J'nell 

Inspiration for Beauty Among Ruins 

Once again, blame it on Downton Abbey. This time on Lady Rose. She was impulsive, spoiled, a free spirit, yet with a good heart. I knew I wanted to take on the challenge of writing a heroine like her. A character who starts off one way and by the end of the book has completely charmed you over. So I started writing and everything was going great until … it wasn’t. The plot just stopped on me. No matter how hard I tried the story refused to reveal itself to me which is incredibly frustrating for someone who doesn’t like to give up once they’ve started something. But I had to. In the end, I had to put the story, affectionately titled Love on the Limp, away for several months while I wrote The Socialite. Then one day the story clicked. It was meant to be a WWI telling on the classic Beauty and the Beast story. Everything fell into place and the story and characters burst onto the page in glorious technicolor.

Lily and Alec took me by surprised with how much I fell in love with them. Bubbly Lily and brooding Alec. Never had two more opposites been so perfect for one another (at least in my writing experience). They had so many obstacles to overcome, many of them self-imposed, that I often found myself in tears over their heartaches, but golly gumdrops when they came together, boy o boy were there fireworks!

You may have also noticed that the story is set in Scotland because I happen to believe that every good story is set there. I had the privilege of staring at pictures of this breathtaking landscape for months so I could imagine the characters strolling among the heather and watching the river twist through the green moors. To me, nothing rivals the awe-inspiring beauty of a certain place, and hopefully readers will feel that through these pages.


To celebrate her tour, J’Nell is giving away the grand prize of a paperback copy of the book and an audiobook copy of The Socialite!! 

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.

Click here to enter the giveaway! 

Blog Stops

Fiction Aficionado, January 27 

Sara Jane Jacobs, January 27 

Wishful Endings, January 28 

Genesis 5020, January 28 

lakesidelivingsite, January 29 

Connect in Fiction, January 30 

CarpeDiem, January 30 

Artistic Nobody, January 31 (Guest Review from Joni Truex) 

Rachael’s Inkwell, January 31 

Rebecca Tews, February 1 

Texas Book-aholic, February 2 

As He Leads is Joy, February 2 

Robin’s Nest, February 2 

Older & Smarter?, February 3 

Remembrancy, February 4 

Inklings and notions, February 4 

Mia Reads, February 5 

Joanne Markey, February 5 

Splashes of Joy, February 5 

Mary Hake, February 5 

Betti Mace, February 6 

For Him and My Family, February 6 

She Lives to Read, February 7 

deb’s Book Review, February 7 

The Write Escape, February 7 

Simple Harvest Reads, February 8 (Guest Review from Mindy Houng) 

Novels Corner, February 8 

Pause for Tales, February 9 

Lis Loves Reading, February 9


  1. Thank you for such a wonderful review! I'm delighted you enjoyed Alec and Lily's story!


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