Author: Clare London
Narrator: Joel Leslie
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press/Dreamspun Desires
Run Time: 7 hours and 15 minutes
At a Glance: Romancing the Ugly Duckling is good fun, and in the more than capable hands of Joel Leslie, it really comes to life in the presentation.
Reviewed By: Mike
Blurb: Is this the makeover of a lifetime?
Ambitious fashionista Perry Goodwood lands the project of his dreams—track down a celebrity family’s missing brother in the Scottish Highlands and bring him back to London for a TV reality show. But first he must transform the rugged loner into a glamorous sophisticate.
Greg Ventura has no use for high fashion. He lives on the isolated island of North Uist to escape the reminder that he’s nowhere near as handsome as his gorgeous brothers and avoid the painful childhood memories of being bullied.
Greg wants nothing to do with city life, and Perry’s never been outside London. When Perry is stranded on North Uist, this conflict seems insurmountable. But Greg is captivated by the vivacious Perry, and Perry by both the island and his host. However, Perry’s one heartfelt wish remains: that ugly duckling Greg fulfill his potential as a swan.
Review: Perry Goodwood is a stylist for a PR firm. He’s unhappy with his life, his tyrannical boss, a failed relationship, and, well, with everything. But, he does his best trying to succeed in a job that seems to have little comfort for him.
One day a group of men, who seem fabulous but each have dubious characters, come seeking a TV show about their lives, but the would-be British Kardashians have one small problem—their younger brother, the family runt, ran off to the Scottish Highlands years ago. He needs to be part of the show, or no deal will happen, so Perry is sent into the Scottish wilds to find him, wholly unprepared for life in the peat moors and the recalcitrant nature of his would-be makeover, not to mention the population of the small isle town he is sent to.
When he arrives after braving hours of travel, a ferry crossing in a storm, and walking drenched to Greg Ventura’s croft, Perry is stunned to find that the former “ugly duckling” has not only grown out of his teen acne but has turned into a beautiful but closed off man. Greg has hidden too long, after an early life of being bullied by his pack of self-absorbed brothers.
Over the course of this book, both men see that initial impressions can be very wrong, and that despite differences, there is more to attraction and love than comparable lifestyles. Each man has a few secrets, but in true romance fashion, they are more blocks in the mind than insurmountable impediments that cannot be credibly solved.
Joel Leslie as narrator does his usual above average job here, infusing the characters and the setting with seriousness, when called for, but also with all of the joy and comfort of small town living. While the accents are at times inconsistent, the narration as a whole is a great one. The main characters are very well presented and acted; even the dog and his playful nature come through with the voice work. The standoffish nature of village life in Scotland comes through, as well, as do the accents.
While the HEA is a bit thin, Leslie presents it with all the gusto one could hope for. Romancing the Ugly Duckling is good fun, and in the more than capable hands of Joel Leslie, it really comes to life in the presentation. Buy the book for the sweet and fun romance, buy it for the narration, and buy it if you’re a fan of this romance line from Dreamspinner Press.
You can buy Romancing the Ugly Duckling here: