Book Review | The Beast of Beswick

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2

Title: The Beast of Beswick

Author: Amalie Howard

Format: Paperback (owned)

Pages: 375

Categories: Historical Romance

Lord Nathaniel Harte, the disagreeable Duke of Beswick, spends his days smashing porcelain, antagonizing his servants, and snarling at anyone who gets too close. With a ruined face like his, it’s hard to like much about the world. Especially smart-mouthed harpies―with lips better suited to kissing than speaking―who brave his castle with indecent proposals.

But Lady Astrid Everleigh will stop at nothing to see her younger sister safe from a notorious scoundrel, even if it means offering herself up on a silver platter to the forbidding Beast of Beswick himself. And by offer, she means what no highborn lady of sound and sensible mind would ever dream of―a tender of marriage with her as his bride. 

Thank you to Entangled: Amara and Bookishfirst for giving me a chance to win a copy of this book!

In this historical romance we have Lady Astrid Everleigh, a blue-stocking spinster, trying to save her younger sister, Isobel from a marriage with someone despicable. Her plan? Why to marry the Beast of Beswick, of course. Thane is grotesquely scarred from war injuries and is somewhat of a recluse, hiding away on his estate. As a Duke he needs to marry and beget heirs, so why not Lady Astrid as his wife?

These two clash right away, just like in the Beauty and the Beast story and it’s a steamy read that will keep you warm for winter!

  • There are tropes galore in this story but I love it. I don’t mind the usual tropes in romance, I mean, it’s why I love the genre. Here we have a story inspired by Beauty and the Beast, and I adore it. Astrid and Thane clash right away! Astrid is intelligent and capable, and Thane is a grouchy Duke because of his scars. The sparks are always blazing between them. I loved their interactions in the story and banter.🔥
  • Speaking of hot…there are lots of steamy scenes in this story and they are good!
  • I enjoyed the characters! Astrid is no quiet, demure miss, even if Thane describes her as a tightly coiled spinster at first. Her mind is quick, her tongue quicker and I love how she never backed down from his moods. Thane comes of grouchy and scary but he’s a war hero – he’s seen some things and experienced a lot of pain in his life. Coming back home scarred is even worse, especially since society pegs him to be a beast. And I loved Thane’s Aunt Mabel haha, she definitely lived a spicy life.
  • The happily ever after was lovely, the epilogue made my heart happy.
  • The Earl of Beaumont, who is the scoundrel Astrid is trying to keep her sister away from – sort of goes away without fanfare. It seemed to easy, I guess I was expecting him to do something nefarious, because there were threats, but…🤷🏻‍♀️.

I was here for the Beauty and the Beast inspiration, the heat this book brought and of course the happy ending. The main characters have so much sparks exploding between them, I absolutely enjoyed it! This is the first book I have read from this author but now I’m glad I can add another historical romance author to my must read list.

Book Review | The Downstairs Girl

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Title: The Downstairs Girl

Author: Stacey Lee

Format: Hardcover (borrowed)

Pages: 374

Categories: Young Adult, Historical Fiction, Racial Themes, American Southern History, Suffragists

By day, seventeen-year-old Jo Kuan works as a lady’s maid for the cruel daughter of one of the wealthiest men in Atlanta. But by night, Jo moonlights as the pseudonymous author of a newspaper advice column for the genteel Southern lady, “Dear Miss Sweetie.” When her column becomes wildly popular, she uses the power of the pen to address some of society’s ills, but she’s not prepared for the backlash that follows when her column challenges fixed ideas about race and gender. 

While her opponents clamor to uncover the secret identity of Miss Sweetie, a mysterious letter sets Jo off on a search for her own past and the parents who abandoned her as a baby. But when her efforts put her in the crosshairs of Atlanta’s most notorious criminal, Jo must decide whether she, a girl used to living in the shadows, is ready to step into the light. 

This book sort of got me out of my reading slump, so hooray! Maybe it’s because I just needed a break from YA Fantasy. 🤷🏻‍♀️

The Downstairs Girl packs a lot into 374 pages. It is a story about a Chinese girl named Jo Kuan, who was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. The story takes place somewhere during the late 1800’s so there is a lot going on and for a city that is divided between the color lines of black or white, Jo being Chinese, always falls somewhere in the middle. We get a little education about the Chinese that were brought in to the plantations in the South after the Civil War. There is also mention of the Suffragist movement, the growing popularity of safeties (bicycles), racial divide between blacks and whites in Atlanta, Jo’s search for her biological parents, horse-racing and a Miss Sweetie advice column in a newspaper that added humor to this story.

  • I love Jo who isn’t timid in her thoughts and opinions. Actually her opinions gets her in trouble with a job she’s really good at. Jo is talented with her hands and her words. She goes from being a milliner, then a maid, and she rides a horse with skill. She is also the anonymous Miss Sweetie in the newspaper the Focus. What can’t she do? But her life isn’t perfect – she was raised by Old Gin, an older Chinese man who said he found her on his doorstep. She doesn’t know her real parents, they live as secret squatters and if found out could be kicked out or worse. Because they are Chinese, they experience prejudices and work menial jobs where they can find it and try to stay “out of the way” but with more change coming in Atlanta, it’s hard to just stand by, especially for Jo who was a lot to say.
  • I love the writing and wonder why I’ve never read a book by this author before! I really enjoyed the focus on the power and love of words, with the newspaper and the Miss Sweetie column. Jo is so witty and funny as Miss Sweetie giving her advice to subscribers of the Focus. But I also loved the Chinese parables that Old Gin uses to teach Jo about life lessons. It’s so beautiful and there were so many things I wanted to highlight in this book but I couldn’t because it’s a library copy.
  • I did not know about the history of the Chinese in the American South. So this book opened my eyes to a lot of things, including race relations in Atlanta around the 1890’s, which I knew of through history class but not about the Chinese that immigrated there. The author added in the Suffragist movement as well, and she showed how even in that movement, racism played a big part. There is a hierarchy in who’s cause took precedence and freedom for blacks always took last place, most notably, black women’s issues was last place. 😔
  • The horse race in the end, well who would’ve thought it could be so exciting to read! And I almost cried at the end, I just felt so pumped up for Jo, I was cheering her on!
  • There is a revelation in this book near the end and it was heart wrenching mostly because of the relationships between Jo and Old Gin (her caretaker). And then her usually tense relationship with Caroline her employer, changes in a way unexpected that just made me want to cry.
  • I enjoyed the other characters in this book like Old Gin who is so wise, and Noemi and Roddy who are her friends. I’m glad Jo had a little support group even though it was so small.
  • There was a little romance in this story. But I think this book would have been good without it. It didn’t make me like the book less though because I always love a little romance. It’s a very slow burn though.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book! I was immersed in Jo’s thoughts, her wit, worries, dreams and strong opinions. I love how the author gave us a glimpse of what it was like in Atlanta, Georgia for a Chinese girl in a time when tension was brewing between race and gender. I will definitely be reading more of her work. So many events are taking place in Jo’s life but I think her story ends victoriously. ☺️ Jo handles her search for her true self with courage and later with appreciation for the people who helped her realize her true voice. It touched my heart in ways unexpected.