The Ugly Duckling's Valentine

Julia Parks
The Ugly Duckling's Valentine
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Musa Publishing
Release Date
February 2014
Historical Romance


Kit's invention of a secret admirer for Claire goes awry when she falls in love with her phantom lover and he finds himself in love with her.

Claire is not a beauty, but she does hope to find someone quiet, someone nice, who might want to make her his wife. Instead, her Valentine box is overflowing with love letters, all from secret admirers. Only one captures her heart, but can she trust her heart and take a chance on love?

Lord Kittridge wants only happiness for Claire so he invents a secret admirer for her. After all, she's like a sister to him, but when he realizes she has fallen in love with her admirer, he realizes he wants her for himself - always and forever. But how can he confess to his subterfuge and win her love?

Book Review by Barb Taub (author)
May 14, 2014   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
88 people found the following review helpful
I confess. I'm a guilty-pleasure Regency fan. Georgette Heyer's trademark combination of wit and humor with meticulously researched historical accuracy make her Regency novels the gold standard. Add to that a genetic predisposition to the works of Miss Austen, and you have pretty much defined my literary roots. And Julia Parks' little offering, THE UGLY DUCKLING'S VALENTINE certainly belongs in that company.

Regencies are funny. If you look at the actual plot, there really isn't much. A cruel guardian here, a dash of mistaken identity there, with maybe an orphaned heiress for good measure, and you pretty much have a plot. But their genius lies, I think, in two things. First, the sex. Everybody thinks about it, and nobody does it, with the possible exception of the (blazing, of course) kiss at the end. Second, the conversation. Everybody does it, and nobody thinks about it, with the possible exception of the (romantic, of course) proposal at the end.

In the case of THE UGLY DUCKLING'S VALENTINE, the gossamer plot involves a young lady about to debut in polite society. To ease Claire's fears of not living up to the high expectations set by her older siblings, long-time family friend Lord Kittridge sends her notes purporting to be from a secret admirer. It doesn't take long for Claire to fall for the sentiments expressed by her anonymous lover, while for his part Kit finds himself actually feeling the emotions he's been writing. Will the inevitable revelation of his identity backfire, though, when Claire discovers the subterfuge?

I am happy to give three stars to THE UGLY DUCKLING'S VALENTINE. Within the limits of a Regency novel, it ticks off all the boxes: amusing conversation, light comedic relief in the form of a large and exuberant puppy, and an entire cast of characters obsessing over the most minor of events. Oh, and True Love, of course. The story never steps outside of its imposed structures, but it never violates them either. Nobody suffers, dies, or even remains unhappy for very long.

For those who love regencies, THE UGLY DUCKLING'S VALENTINE is a little treat that reminds us of why they are fun to read but also, like a too-thick layer of frosting on a bakery cupcake, why a little goes a long way.
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