Saturday, November 13, 2021

Review: "Love and Lavender" by Josi S. Kilpack

Last year, I read Josi S. Kilpack's Rakes and Roses, the third book in her Mayfield Family series. I liked it quite a bit, so of course I wanted to read the next novel, Love and Lavender. I ended up liking Love and Lavender even more than its predecessor!

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 works and 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?

I read a lot. This should be a surprise to no one! But with so much reading, sometimes I struggle to really connect with a book. I've read several good books lately, but none that I found myself thinking about throughout the day ... until Love and Lavender came along. There's something about Duncan and Hazel, two unlikely romantic partners, that completely captured my interest!

As this is a marriage of convenience romance, there's no question about whether Duncan and Hazel will fall in love; the question is how and when it will happen, and the joy is in the journey. In this case, they become great friends first, and the feelings sneak up later. (Well, Hazel's feelings sneak up. I think Duncan fell in love fairly quickly, whether he recognized it or not.) I loved how Duncan was so truthful and matter of fact about everything and how Hazel accepted him as he was. That's not to say she wasn't uncomfortable at times; she had to decide if she could live with Duncan's peculiarities, just as Duncan had to decide if he could live with Hazel's disability.

I really appreciated reading about two people who, especially in Regency times but even today, would have difficulty finding a marriage partner. I pulled so hard for their happiness! This is definitely a slow burn romance, and it's ultimately very satisfying. I highly recommend it! 5 stars.

Read my review of Rakes and Roses (4 stars).

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.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Also, some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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