Review: Silk & Scars by Cassandra Dean

gardenFor over a year, Miss Gwendolyn Parkes and the Duke of Sowrith have corresponded. At first an error, the letters quickly became something much more—a friendship forged on like minds and perhaps the hope of something more….

When Gwen is compelled by her employer to attend the duke at his Dartmoor estate, she is devastated to find her beloved friend cold and imperious, even if he is the most handsome man she’s ever seen—despite his scars.

Edward, Duke of Sowrith, has longed to meet Gwen. After arranging her passage to his estate, he is tongue-tied when confronted with her quiet beauty. All too aware of the twisted ruin of his face, he allows fear to hold him silent…until Gwen’s safety is threatened.

Finally together, they grow closer until it seems they can never again be apart. But can a commoner and a duke find a happily ever after?

Available at Amazon

Review copy provided via Reading Alley in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5 stars

Review: 

A gem!

SILK AND SCARS is a very enjoyable historical romance, complete with the heightened angst and delicious tension that I love. I see shades of Beauty and the Beast in this story, but definitely better than the fairy tale. For one, I didn’t feel so strongly for the Beast. And, devoid of talking candlesticks and dancing cutlery, I was able to concentrate on the developing romance between Edward and Gwen.

Due to a mistake, Gwen and Edward started corresponding with each other, and I have to say their letters are the highlight of the book. When Gwen suffered the censure of her employer, Edward decided to bring her to his estate in Sowrithil, perhaps thinking to make things better for her but almost immediately suffering a change of mind–what would she think of him when she saw him, terribly scarred as he was?

When Gwen arrived, she expected to find the man she corresponded with, and was highly bewildered when she could find no trace of him and was instead presented with the duke. How could she reach the Edward she knew lay beyond the facade?

Gwen is a lovely woman who sees beneath the surface. Or perhaps, she sees his scars, but for her, they didn’t mar his beauty. Knowing each other first through the letters helped in letting each see into the other’s soul, and the meeting of their minds only heightens any physical attraction each feels toward the other. Gwen worked as a legal clerk (I believe) in a barrister’s office, which is not really the done thing in those days (in the 1840’s), and for all that she wishes women could be free to pursue law (if she’s interested in it), she cannot break free of the constraints of the “rules” of society when it comes to herself. Such as, she cannot envision any happy ending for herself and Edward, because she’s a commoner and he’s a duke. Of course, this created conflict between them, and while this is refreshing in the sense that this scenario is not usually played up in other historical romances, it does not lend her character that much credibility.

Edward, oh Edward. I just want to take him into my arms and comfort him. His scars (in and out) lent him a vulnerability not often find in heroes of romance books. It makes me feel for him, and at the same time, root for him to find his HEA. Just thinking about how Edward must be feeling, how inadequate and insecure he must be in the presence of Gwen–she so beautiful and pure while he was scarred and walked with a limp… How he yearns and longs for something he knows is unattainable, out of his reach… Delicious angst, lovely tension–I love it! I gobble up the book in one sitting, and they’re the best 2.5 hours I’ve spent that day!

What I really love about this book is how the story started and ended with letters. I feel they give so much insight and depth to what we know of Edward and Gwen, especially the letters toward the end. They make me want to re-read this little gem sometime again in the future. Real rating 4.5 stars.

Cassandra Dean’s writing is smooth and flowed well, and it’s not necessary to read the previous two books in the series to enjoy this one. Nonetheless, because I love this story, I’ll be checking out the other books in the series.

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