I love historical romance, and the blurb seems to hint at this being an endearing story (how could it not with a hero with a disfigured face?), I grabbed the chance to read this story, and imagine my surprise and delight when it was so much more than I expected!
Miss Sophy Landon has no prospects for a good marriage, but her kindness earns her passage to a completely different world where she met Aubranael, a man with a disfigured face with whom she felt…something. Certainly, when she went back home, she couldn’t stop thinking about him! Alas, she can only stay a day, and so they parted. But each couldn’t stop thinking about the other, and when chance came that Aubranael may be able to visit her in her hometown, he grabbed at the chance, especially when he could court her with a (temporary) change to his face, making him as handsome as any maiden could wish for her suitor to be. Would Aubranael succeed in winning Sophy? What happens when the truth is out?
MISS LANDON AND AUBRANAEL is a delightful mix of historical and fantasy. It’s loosely a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, with a twist. Reading it is like peeling an onion, with layers upon layers being revealed with each chapter. It is also like a box of chocolates, containing wonderful surprises as you read onward.
Sophy is a wonderful heroine, a dutiful daughter and a strong woman. She may not show it at the start, but she’s smart, and we see this in the second half of the story, as she outsmarted those who’d try to stop her from reaching her goal. While she is not really popular in the village, due to her poverty, her being past marriageable age, she does have some good friends who stuck with her through thick and thin.
Aubranael is, as I’ve foreseen, endearing. How could he help not be–with his loneliness and his yearning for Sophy? In a land where beauty is prized, his disfigurement made him an outcast among his own people. I do wonder how he spent his days–aside from playing with the cat as we see at his first meeting with Sophy–and how he earned his living.
The worldbuilding is amazing, and the author’s wonderful cast of secondary characters, especially those that Sophy met in her second journey, made the world come alive. The author drew from popular tales (like the troll under the bridge, Alice in Wonderland’s Mad Hatter’s tea party, Sleeping Beauty, etc) and made them her own. There were twists and turns that took me by surprise, and the events in the second half of the book went very fast. I couldn’t put this book down!
However, I do wish for more romantic development between Sophy and Aubranael. I didn’t count the time when Aubranael wasn’t showing his true face, because Sophy thought it was some other person. So, for me, while I think they’re a cute couple, there wasn’t really much time for them to get to know each other and develop their feelings. So this aspect fell a little flat for me, causing me to deduct half a star from the overall rating (actual rating: 4.5 stars).
Nevertheless, MISS LANDON AND AUBRANAEL is one fascinating story that I wish didn’t have to end, and I’m glad to see we’re getting a second book in the series. I can’t wait to explore more of this world, and I hope we will get cameos of Sophy and Aubranael in future books.
Rating: 5 stars
Review copy provided via Reading Alley in exchange for an honest review.
Tilby, Lincolnshire, 1811.
Miss Sophia Landon is the daughter of an impoverished clergyman. Her father’s health is failing fast, but who wants to marry a woman without birth, beauty or wealth? Her prospects are limited indeed – until her friendship with the town’s fae denizens earns her passage to the otherworldly realm of Aylfenhame. Could her fate truly lie beyond the shores of England?
There she meets Aubranael, a young man with a warm heart and a ruined face. In Sophy he sees the answer to his loneliness, but how can a disfigured Ayliri hope to win her heart? When a mysterious witch offers him the temporary gift of beauty, he eagerly accepts: and so begins an adventure that could change his life, and Sophy’s, forever.