Hi y’all! I am thrilled to be participating in the blog tour for Josi S. Kilpack’s novel Love and Lavender, part of her Mayfield Family Romance series.
This book surprised me with it’s unique characters that found a way into my heart with their unconventional love story.
I was intrigued by the premise of this story –two near strangers agree to marry and live together for one year in order to claim their inheritances. At first, this seems to be a ridiculous idea. They do not love each other and they do not want to love each other. They want to find financial independence in different cities. But agree to Uncle Elliott’s terms to live together for one year.
I received an ARC from the publisher. All opinions are my own.
Book Summary: “Hazel Stillman is a woman of rare independence and limited opportunities. Born with a clubbed foot, Hazel knows marriage is unlikely, so she devotes herself to teaching at a private girls’ school.
When her uncle offers Hazel a substantial inheritance if she marries, she is offended. What kind of decent man would marry for her money? But when she learns the school might be sold, she knows she must consider all her options.
Duncan Penhale thrives on order and process. He has no interest in marriage, so when Elliott Mayfield, his guardian’s brother, offers him an inheritance if he weds, Duncan finds it intrusive. However, an inheritance means he could purchase a building and run his own accounting firm.
Hazel and Duncan believe they have found a solution to both of their problems: marry one another, claim their inheritances, and then part ways to enjoy their individual paths. But then Uncle Mayfield stipulates that they must first live together as a couple for one year.
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?“
Hazel is a fascinating character. Her life with a clubbed foot is difficult and I appreciated the insights into living with disabilities during this time period. I couldn’t believe how much pain she endured on a daily basis! Her custom boot isn’t even helpful until Duncan finds a skilled cobbler who can really create something useful. It made me really appreciate modern medicine and the conveniences we enjoy. Nowadays, a club foot can be surgically healed but Hazel had to live with it. I loved her thirst for knowledge and the joy she finds in teaching, especially in subjects like advanced mathematics. Her brilliant mind was such a lovely way to contrast her physical disability. It did not limit her from learning all she could and from sharing that knowledge. Some of my favorite scenes in the book are when she is teaching in her parlor school in Ipswich. Seeing how her teaching changes those girls’ lives was beautiful! Hazel is a complex character — surprisingly fearful about love and being worthy of love but also strong and willing to work hard to achieve her dreams. I loved seeing her transformation as she finds herself worthy of love and takes to leap of faith to have a life of joy and devotion with Duncan.
Duncan truly surprised me as a main character. At first, I wasn’t sure how I felt about him. I was surprised to find him probably on the modern autism spectrum. He was awkward, overly direct, and just a bit off. How could this man be our hero? As the story progressed, I was fascinated by his journey. His life had been difficult and he had known tragedy and heartache with the death of his parents and guardian. He was teased and ridiculed for being different. And yet, he had a good education, worked hard in a career he enjoyed, and built routines that worked for him. And then he meets Hazel. I love how their relationship transforms Duncan! Certainly, he remains a bit odd. But we also see his intense loyalty and kindness. His directness also shows his compassion. And I loved the way they both share their love with each other as the book progresses.
I wasn’t sure this love story would work for me. But it grew on me in beautiful ways as the story progressed. I loved the way Hazel and Duncan build each other up and bring out the best in each other. He encourages her in her teaching and loves to discuss and educate her on a variety of subjects. She helps him understand his reactions to physical touch and to build relationships with those around him. He is direct and she learns to understand him. She is scared and he helps her be brave. He believes in God and she isn’t sure. But he doesn’t judge her or ridicule her for her doubts. Together, they build faith and hope and joy. Even when they don’t expect to. I love the final chapters of the book when Hazel is discussing her future with her friend Sophie. She doesn’t think she can hope for a future with so much joy. And Sophie encourages her to trust and have faith. What a beautiful message!
Overall, a lovely and quirky romance. I enjoyed the setting and the simple household Hazel and Duncan set up. They are not overly wealthy but they are comfortable and happy. The characters are not typical but teach us beautiful lessons about the power of love, healing, joy, and trust.
Have you read any of Josi’s novels? Which are your favorites?
Do you have any book recommendations with characters with disabilities?
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.