Lady Georgina Hawthorne has worked tirelessly to seal her place as the Incomparable for her debut season. At her first London ball, she hopes to snag the attention of an earl.
With money and business connections, but without impeccable bloodlines, Colin McCrae is invited everywhere but accepted nowhere. When he first encounters the fashionable Lady Georgina, he's irritated by his attraction to a woman who concerns herself only with status and appearance.
What Colin doesn't know is that Georgina's desperate social aspirations are driven by the shameful secret she harbors. Association with Colin McCrae is not part of Georgina's plan, but as their paths continue to cross, they both must decide if the realization of their dreams is worth the sacrifices they must make.
About the Author
Kristi Ann Hunter is the author of the Hawthorne House series and a 2016 RITA Award winner, an ACFW Genesis contest winner, and a Georgia Romance Writers Maggie Award for Excellence winner. She lives with her husband and three children in Georgia. Find her online at www.kristiannhunter.com.
Read an Excerpt
An Elegant Façade
By Kristi Ann Hunter
Bethany House PublishersCopyright © 2016 Kristi Ann Hunter
All rights reserved.
Perfection, even the fabricated appearance of it, was a nearly impossible feat. Lady Georgina Hawthorne should know. She'd spent the past three years carefully preparing and planning, determined to make her debut Season perfect or, at the very least, convince everyone else it was.
Exuding anything less than complete excellence could lead someone to the truth: that she wasn't just imperfect — she was elementally flawed.
If the sparkling creation nestled in the tissue paper before her was a sign of things to come, her hard work was about to reap handsome rewards. The custom-designed mask was everything she'd hoped it would be.
"It looks even prettier than I imagined." Harriette, Georgina's lady's maid and companion, released the reverent whisper as she extended a hand to brush the cluster of feathers bursting from the top left edge of the mask. "You are remarkable."
Georgina smiled, unable to resist the urge to touch the mask herself. While acknowledgment of the craftsman who constructed the mask should certainly be made, Georgina felt comfortable taking some of the credit for herself. She had given the man very detailed drawings of exactly what she wanted.
"If everything else follows the plan this well, I'll be married and settled by the end of the Season." With a sigh, Georgina slid the lid onto the box, blocking the delicate creation from view. As much as she would enjoy looking at the mask for the next three days, she couldn't risk marring the white silk or bright white feathers before the ball. "Has the dress arrived?"
"It came this morning." Harriette took the box containing the mask and disappeared into Georgina's dressing room. Moments later she reappeared with a large bundle of white in her arms. "It's quite splendid as well."
Georgina fought past her initial excitement over the dress to look at it with a critical eye. If anything needed to be changed they needed to do it now. The ball was only three days away. Even though it was a masked event, it would be Georgina's societal debut. It needed to be more than simply perfect. It had to be exceptional.
It would take a fairly spectacular appearance to make everyone forget what a fool she'd made of herself chasing the Marquis of Raebourne last year before she'd even been officially out of the schoolroom. That was what happened when she let emotion cause her to stray from her plan. The marquis would have suited her needs perfectly, but his absurd interest in a woman of little significance put her prime marital target out of reach.
Even so, she should never have allowed the ensuing panic to convince her to share family gossip with Lady Helena Bell. She should have known Lady Helena wouldn't be able to use the information to successfully break the couple's attachment. It had all been horribly embarrassing, but Georgina had learned a very important lesson: No one else could be counted on to carry out any part of her plans.
This year she would rely only on herself. She looked at her maid, inspecting the skirt for loose threads. And Harriette. Dependable, loyal Harriette could always be relied upon. In fact, Georgina would be lost without her. "Your brother is due to start school soon, isn't he?"
The maid looked up from the dress, plain brown eyes narrowing in her commonly rounded face. She straightened herself the full length of her average height and scolded Georgina with a voice laced with an extraordinary amount of intelligence and tenacity. "You've already taken care of it. I won't take any more of your pin money."
Georgina tried to hide her smile as her friend gave a decisive nod and turned back to the dress.
Though no one else in London would likely believe it, the two were friends. No one on earth knew Georgina as well as Harriette did. Without the other woman's friendship as a child, Georgina would never have been able to keep her shortcomings hidden from her perfect, noble family. As it was, they all thought her a hopelessly spoiled brat, a condition she tried to use in her favor as often as possible. "I could tell Griffith to give you a higher wage. He wouldn't doubt me. Probably thinks you deserve one."
Harriette draped the dress over the bed and crossed the room to grasp Georgina's hands. "Don't fret. I've been with you since you were seven. I'm not going anywhere."
It was hard to believe that Harriette was only two years older than Georgina's eighteen years. Sometimes she seemed too settled and mature for one so young.
Georgina pulled her lip between her teeth. "This is going to work, isn't it?"
"Stop that." Harriette shook a finger at Georgina. "You'll make your lips all cracked and wrinkly if you bite them."
Georgina smoothed a finger along her bottom lip.
The maid nodded before continuing. "Of course it's going to work. We've been through Debrett's Peerage three times since last Season, making a list of all the options. We know every unmarried man who fits your requirements. One will come up to snuff. Four of them are even dukes."
"I can hardly marry my brother, so we can consider there to be only three." Georgina held the masquerade dress up to herself and spun around the room, enjoying the novelty of the Elizabethan-styled gown. "Spindlewood is most likely going to be escorting his granddaughter around this Season, though he's been out of mourning long enough to consider remarrying."
"You don't consider him too old?" Harriette's eyes widened as she sank into the chair at Georgina's dressing table.
"I do, as a matter of fact. Were he to die, I would be a very young dowager with no firm ties to the next duke. There's not nearly enough power in that position." Georgina slipped her feet into her slippers and did a final inspection in the mirror. "It's too bad that his grandson is so young. He's not even out of school yet."
Harriette tilted her head to the side. "You could wait for him. He's sure to enter society within the year."
As if Georgina could afford to wait an entire year in the hopes that the duke's grandson would prove as socially proficient as the rest of the family.
Georgina shook her head before carrying the dress into the dressing room for storage. Harriette's light footsteps followed her.
"What I need, Harriette, is for the Duke of Marshington to make a reappearance, seeking the most advantageous bride for his reentry into society. That would set me up for life. I might actually believe God was looking out for me if that were to happen." Which meant she had little to no hope of it happening. She was certain God was up there somewhere, but she was just as certain that He'd tossed her aside long ago.
"There's still one other duke, a marquis, and two earls on your list, though I do wish you would reconsider removing the Earl of Ashcombe. Your sister —"
"My sister should have married him when she had the chance." Georgina checked the reticule she'd had made for the upcoming ball, ensuring it was packed with everything from a spare pair of slippers to a needle and thread for urgent dress repairs. Nothing could be allowed to ruin her night. "Ashcombe is popular, wealthy, and conscious of the importance of reputation. He stays on the list."
Harriette said nothing as she laid a white velvet cloak on the shelf beside the white ball gown.
A pang of guilt nudged the back of Georgina's thoughts. Ashcombe had courted her sister during her first Season, but Miranda was embarking on her fourth turn through the ballrooms this year. She'd had plenty of chances to win the man's hand. Now it was Georgina's turn.
The fact that she thought the man a supreme bore placed him a bit lower on her list, but she'd rather be bored than ruined.
Not for the first time, Georgina wished Miranda had gotten married last year. The threat of Miranda's impending spinsterhood might make Georgina's quest to be the Season's Incomparable a little more difficult. Association carried its own form of guilt, after all.
She pressed her hand to her chest, as if she could reach through and force the nerves into submission.
"Everything is ready, my lady." Harriette fluffed the skirt on the dress until the white-on-white embroidery was shown to perfection.
Georgina's heart calmed as she looked over the ensemble she would wear as she took her first turn in society as an adult. It was the epitome of everything she'd been working to build. Entering on the arm of her brother, the powerful Duke of Riverton, would seal her as one the most popular girls of the evening.
The masquerade was going to be the best event of her life.
* * *
This was one the ugliest places he'd ever been in his life.
Colin McCrae glanced over his shoulder at the rickety stairs he'd carefully picked his way up. They looked even worse from the top than they had from the bottom, which meant he'd be holding his breath when it came time to travel back down them.
Assuming he lived that long. Calling on his friend Ryland without warning wasn't the safest thing to do. Spies for the Crown tended to be a little wary of things like that. Fortunately, the man was inclined to look first and shoot second, a politeness that could probably be attributed to the fact that the man was also the Duke of Marshington. He may have dropped out of society for the past nine years, but he'd had eighteen years before that to learn gentlemanly behavior.
The passage at the top of the stairs looked as if someone had at least considered doing some maintenance in the past decade. In truth, it wasn't the worst place Colin had visited Ryland in the five years they'd known each other, but it was close.
He took care to keep his greatcoat away from some of the grimier-looking shadows. Just because Ryland chose to eschew the finer things in life to pursue English justice didn't mean Colin had to.
After three strong knocks on the grey wooden door, Colin stepped back, positioning himself so that whoever cracked open the door would be able to see him.
The door opened enough to reveal the face and shoulder of Jeffreys. The man was Ryland's valet, though his duties included far more clandestine activities than simply shining the duke's shoes. This was probably the only set of rooms in the entire building that could boast a manservant of any kind.
Colin grinned at the thin man. "Please don't shoot me, Jeffreys. I'm quite fond of this coat."
Jeffreys laughed as he opened the door wider and allowed Colin in. Sure enough, Jeffreys had been hiding a pistol behind his back as he answered the door.
Another, deeper, laugh came from the next room, and Colin followed it to find Ryland sprawled in a chair that could be called upholstered if one was feeling charitable. There were a series of threads covering whatever remained of the chair's cushioning.
Ryland waved an arm toward the only other chair in the room, a plain wooden chair that looked old but sturdy. "What brings you by?"
Colin sat, crossed his booted feet at the ankles, and placed his hat in his lap. "Other than the joy of welcoming you back to Town, you mean?"
A single dark eyebrow lifted in an expression of condescension, the aristocratic arrogance of the duke showing through, despite the fact that Ryland looked considerably more like a dockside worker. "I haven't officially returned."
"And I'm not officially here." Ryland worked for the War Office. Colin didn't. At least not in any capacity that anyone would recognize as official. He had been known, on occasion, to use his business contacts and observation skills to assist them in one project or another. Though he made sure to say no often enough to keep the War Office from taking advantage, he never turned down a request from Ryland.
It was the developments from just such a request that had brought him to this decrepit building.
Ryland sat up a little straighter. "You have news?"
Colin nodded. Ryland had recently disguised himself as a valet on the Duke of Riverton's estate. As the two were old school friends, Riverton was, of course, in on the plan and had agreed to engage in false correspondence in order to trap the group of Napoleonic spies operating on the estate. Colin's contribution had been business letters about a doomed mining venture.
The decoy information, originally intended to be little more than fluff to fill out the fake correspondence, was actually being used. As only the people selling secrets to France had access to that information, the interest in the mine was certainly suspect.
While Colin filled Ryland in on the details, Jeffreys went about his business, moving quietly around the room.
A glaze of deep thought covered Ryland's grey eyes. Colin settled into his wooden chair as best he could, knowing the other man could contemplate the ramifications of Colin's news for five minutes or five hours, and he would expect Colin to be there when he was done.
"All the more reason to come out of hiding, Your Grace." Jeffreys hauled a small trunk from under the bed and began folding clothes into it.
Colin sat up a bit, mild curiosity replaced with genuine surprise. Was Ryland truly planning to come out of hiding? It would be a good time for it, with the social Season prepared to start within the week.
Instead of berating the other man for interrupting his thought process, Ryland turned his intense gaze to the valet. Clearly there was a hidden meaning to Jeffreys' proclamation. "And have you also planned where I shall make my debut?"
Only years of practice at remaining outwardly calm kept Colin in his seat. Ryland was not only returning to London but to society as well? Was this a new project? A new case that required he come out of hiding? Or was he truly following through on his intentions to stop spying?
Jeffreys extracted a small white card from his pocket and flipped it across the bed. Ryland snatched it out of midair, crumpling the corner a bit.
Colin strained to get a look at the card. It looked like an invitation. Who would have sent Ryland an invitation? Half of London thought he was dead.
"She's going to be there?" Ryland ran a thumb along the edge of the card.
Jeffreys nodded. "The servants have been speaking constantly of the various costumes their lords and ladies have procured. That invitation was meant for your aunt. Price said it was a shame she never received it."
Ryland looked over the card and grinned. Grinned. The jaded, world-weary spy grinned.
Colin rose and leaned over Ryland's shoulder, his thoughts ticking through everything that had been said or done since he arrived. The invitation was for a masquerade ball, but that fact paled as the importance of Jeffreys' statement became evident. There was a girl involved, and by the look on Ryland's face, she wasn't related to his work.
And since it was personal, Ryland wasn't about to volunteer information. Colin turned instead to the valet. "There's a she?"
"What is her costume going to be?" Ryland tapped the invitation against his palm, probably hoping he could learn what he wanted without letting Colin ask any questions of his own. Which made Colin all the more determined to know who the she was.
Jeffreys continued packing as he spoke. "We aren't sure, though we know it's blue. She and her sister and mother were all seen at the modiste ordering dresses for that event. The sister was quite excited. The mother was less so."
"Not surprising." Ryland's face turned thoughtful once more. He seemed to have forgotten Colin was in the room. "Masquerades are not known for keeping the faint blush of youth in a young lady's cheeks. I wonder at Lady Blackstone letting that be Lady Georgina's first society appearance."
Colin had never met the Ladies Hawthorne or their recently remarried mother, Lady Blackstone, but he had done business with their eldest brother, the Duke of Riverton — whose estate Ryland had recently been spying on in the guise of the duke's valet.
This was going to end badly.
Colin coughed. "Lady Georgina Hawthorne?"
Even though Colin hadn't met the young lady, he'd certainly heard of her. And what he'd heard would have made her the last lady he'd have expected Ryland to become interested in.
"The hostess, Lady Yensworth, is a particular friend of Lady Blackstone's — otherwise I'm sure they would be skipping the event." Jeffreys pulled a pair of ruined-looking boots from the bottom of the closet. "Are we keeping these?"
Ryland raised a brow. "Why wouldn't we?"
"Your Grace." The valet tilted his head to the side.
Ryland's brows drew together. "What?"
Excerpted from An Elegant Façade by Kristi Ann Hunter. Copyright © 2016 Kristi Ann Hunter. Excerpted by permission of Bethany House Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Really enjoyed, it was hard to put down!
This is an extremely funny historical romance! I love reading books by this author. She is one of my go-to writers when I need something lighthearted and good for a laugh. This book definitely delivered on the laughter side. At the same time there was a side that caused me to think whenever Lady Georgina’s difficulty came into play. I had gotten into the story quite aways before it became apparent that she had an actual problem that she was working to hide. Until then she just made me angry with her seemingly self centered attitude. Many times early on I just wanted to shake her and tell her that the world didn’t revolve around her. I loved getting to see how the Hawthorne family was doing. It was nice seeing the final part of the previous book from a different character’s perspective. Since the two books overlapped there really wasn’t any lapse in the family progression. We did get a very nice look at the family dynamics and how the siblings relate to with each other, especially Georgina, the younger daughter. I just wish I had had time to read it sooner. The plus side of that is that the rest of the series is already written. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher, through NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review. All of the opinions expressed are my own. Disclaimer: *Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book for free in the hope that I would mention/review it on my blog. I was not required to give a positive review, only my honest opinion - which I've done. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.*
Can't wait to read the next book in the series!
Georgina has spent much of her life preparing for her first Season, with the intention of securing a favorable match. Colin seems to be present more than she cares for. This story weaves through their interactions as well as some time being spent with her family members. Another story that keeps the reader involved as has humorous bits throughout, just as the 1st story did. Thoroughly enjoying the Hawthorne family.
As much as Georgina acts like a brat for the first half of the book, she has a really wonderful coming about as she learns a more healthy way of dealing with her secret. There is a big overlap with the first book in the series, but told from Georgina and Colin's POV's. I didn't feel like I learned too much more from this and the repetition made me want to skim through those scenes. Once Miranda was rescued and Georgina really started having a change of heart, the book vastly improved for me. I'd rate the second part of the book 5 stars. Colin's feelings for Georgina deepen at that point, and their interactions increase in quantity and quality. I loved how Colin challenged her in his charming and disarming manner and they shared fun banter that grew increasingly genuine. There is a strong message of faith that I appreciated and it was wonderful to see how Georgina's turning to God with her struggles strengthened her and gave her the courage she needed. (I received a complimentary copy of the book; all opinions in this review are my own)
Even though Lady Georgina Hawthorne didn’t strike me as a very likable character until I was well into this story, I could not put it down! The dialogue and inner thoughts were captivating along with an intriguing storyline and mystery. Of course, having a Scottish hero like Colin McCrae only increased the appeal. :) It turned out to be quite enjoyable, making a decidedly satisfying Regency fiction book. I started out with the audio edition but had trouble with the slowness of the narrator so I checked a paperback copy out at my local library and finished it in two days!
When I first visited Hawthorne House in A Noble Masquerade, I was enchanted with Miranda’s story. I loved Miranda, her brother Griffith, Duke of Riverton, and even the small glimpse of Trent made me smile. And then there’s Georgina. Snooty, standoffish Georgina. I picked up An Elegant Façade with trepidation because, quite honestly, Georgina left a lot to be desired as a main character. Despite still not loving her at the beginning of the story, and the overlap of some events from book one, I ended up liking this book even better than its predecessor! Sometimes when an author takes a chance, it can pay off in a big way. In this case, Kristi made several bold decisions in her writing, and they all paid off for this reader! While not the most compelling part of the story, in my opinion, the overlapping of scenes from book one added a fresh perspective to those events. Georgina’s perspective on these events is very telling in terms of her character, specifically her insecurities. Without some of these scenes, I don’t think readers would have seen quite the extent that she was willing to go in order to keep her secret. Likewise, the same can be said of Colin’s character. He seems a bit random in book one, but in book two, learning more about his friendship with Ryland, he appearance at the infamous ball when the mysterious Duke of Marshington presents himself to society again. I’ll just go ahead and say it – I didn’t like Georgina one bit at the opening of the story. The fact that Kristi won me over to root for Georgina had a lot to do with how much I ended up loving this novel. Georgina appears to be selfish and shallow, but it’s all an act. It was impressive to me that, while I didn’t agree with Georgina’s choices, I could empathize with her and understand the motivation behind her decisions. It was almost artful how the layers of her character were peeled away, until it was like a sigh of relief to meet her true self. I ended up loving her by the story’s end. I doubt I would have appreciated the ending of the story had she not gone through such a trying transformation. The other intriguing thing to me is the nature of secret of Georgina’s secret. It’s not something I’ve ever seen discussed in historical fiction before, and I hadn’t ever considered the implications of a reading disability for a lady of that time period. Readers might say, what’s the big deal? Well, during that time, for a lady running the house, it would have been a very big deal. Perhaps the way Georgina was able to hide it for so long pushes the bounds of imagination at some points, but overall I thought it was handled in a realistic way and feels true to the time period of the story. And, of course, I have to mention Colin again! Colin is one of the most endearing male leads that I’ve read this year and not nearly as “odious” as Georgina believes him to be. I actually prefer him to Ryland from the first book – no judging! I just prefer a male lead with as little pretense as possible and not one that is too calculating in his relationships. He is such an all-around respectable and kind hero, one that didn’t allow Georgina to keep up her façade in front of him, one that demanded her secret not be between them, but also never pressured her to reveal it, even to his own detriment. I just really admired him – perhaps his being from Scotland had something to do with my initial fascination – that and his enviable head of hair – but truly the quality of his character quickl
If you love anything Regency era, you’ll definitely want to check this one out. This is the third book in the Hawthorne House series, but you don’t need to read them in order. I didn’t, but I plan to because this one was amazing. All of the characters connect so I’m sure it much more fun to read them in order. I absolutely loved An Elegant Facade. In the beginning, I really disliked Georgina. She is a snooty spoiled brat whose main goal was to further her place in society and to marry well. The man she had to marry couldn’t be just any man either. He had to have status and money. However, as the story carried on, I began to really like the girl. Her snootiness is all a ruse! While I do not condone many of her thoughts and actions, I can easily understand where she’s coming from. She has so many insecurities that she keeps hidden and she will do whatever it takes to keep anyone from finding out. By the end of the book, I loved Georgina. The book is beautifully done and I felt like I was reading a classic from the era. Most of the book seemed to work on getting Georgina to slowly peel away the many layers of herself until she was her true self. I found myself wanting to root for her in the end. In fact, I cheered and cried on her behalf all throughout the book. Georgina also has a really big secret. No one but her maid knew. She was quite clever at how she hid it from her family. It was quite interesting because I don’t think I’ve ever read anything about any kind of disability in historical fiction before. It was eye opening and made me wonder how a reading disability affected a lady of that time period. Ok, so at first I thought it was kind of odd. Why is dyslexia a bad thing? But Kristi Ann Hunter does an excellent job at explaining that in this time period, ladies were expected to run the house. Reading and writing were required to do these tasks. This added to the story and made it quite interesting. Now let me talk a little bit about Colin. He is probably one of the best male leads I have read this year. He is respectable and honorable. He refused to allow Georgina to keep up her facade in front of him. He tried to encourage her to tell her family her secret, but he never pressured her to reveal it. He is a man of character and quickly won me over. I loved that he was the only one who saw through her facade and still cared about her. Plus, he’s from Scotland so that’s pretty awesome. He’s also quite humorous and witty which is a good thing because it takes a lot to be able to keep up with Georgina. Overall, I was entertained all throughout the book. I give a 5 out 5 stars! Totally looking forward to the next book which is Trent’s story! Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for my honest review, which I have given. I was not required to write a positive review and have not been compensated for it in any way. All opinions expressed are my own.
After adoring this author's debut novel I couldn't wait to get my hands on this book and thankfully I loved this one too! I found it very interesting and rather cool how instead of picking up where the first book left off this one started in the middle of the events from A Noble Masquerade. But since they were told from two new perspectives it didn't feel repetitive and I actually loved seeing multiple sides of the same story. Georgina didn't come across very likable in the first book but as soon as we got into her head it was all explained. It was rather brilliant the way she had manipulated her life and created a character for herself all to keep her secret from being discovered. That she was able to hide it for so long from all but one person was remarkable. And even though she didn't start off on the best foot in my opinion by the end she had captured my heart and I was rooting for things to work out for her. Colin was an amazing character. I loved how despite being a shrewd businessman he always made sure to do the honorable thing and also the fact that he was content with his status on the fringes of society in a time when having a high status meant everything to most people. The way Colin and Georgina matched wits throughout left me with a smile on my face almost the whole time I was reading. I loved the way their relationship played out and there were some moments that were absolutely swoon-worthy! It was really fun to see some of Ryland and Miranda's story from another view and to see how things played out after the events of their book. It was also great to "visit" with the other familiar characters from book one and the prequel novella! In conclusion I loved everything about this book (like I did with the first one) and I cannot wait till Trent's story comes out so I can devour that one as well! I received this book free in exchange for my review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
An Elegant Façade is the second book in Kristi Ann Hunter’s Hawthorne House series, and I have to say that she is quickly becoming one of my favorite historical authors! I adored the first book and was so excited to find out that this was going to be Georgina and Colin’s book! It was every bit as good as I expected and actually surpassed quite a few of my expectations, which is sometimes difficult when I so enjoy the first book. The story did start out a bit slow for me, since the first couple chapters were something of recaps of what went on in the first book, but when it picked up I didn’t want to put it down! I also found that I really enjoyed seeing a bit of the goings on from the first book through the eyes of different characters. Ms. Hunter’s books are so unique and I love how she has her own distinctive style, but also tries to add in a bit of the conventional. . Though her books contain all of the usual elements, I have to say that I probably most love the dialogue found between the pages. That, and the moments of suspense found within this book and the previous one. Georgina Hawthorne is a very unique character and one that I wasn’t entirely sure I would care for, especially since our first meeting was less than stellar. Surprisingly enough, I actually fell in love with her rather quickly, particularly after learning of her challenges and why she behaves as she does. She can actually be quite kind, funny, and stubborn, when she lets go of the façade that hides so many emotions. She still seems selfish and a bit childish at times, but it was made up for by the fact that she was slowly growing throughout the story. I did really appreciated the fact that her transformation is ongoing, rather than something that happens overnight. It was helped by the moments when I saw her upset over the way she behaved. She might have become one of my favorite heroines, despite not liking her at first glance. And Colin McCrae is by far a very compelling hero, but then, I’m a sucker for men with accents. Colin is a good friend of the Duke of Marshington, the main character in the previous novel and I fell in love with him from the first meeting, when he was so enjoying his friend’s discomfort, but trying to not laugh too loudly. That just sealed the deal for me, and he’s as equally mischievous in this book! It’s not often I laugh through a Regency novel, but with Colin in the mix, I found myself doing just that more than once! Along with being mischievous, Colin is also kind, and funny, and strong, and sometimes, even a little unsure. I think it was the final trait that had me falling for him so quickly. I loved getting to see past the armor he wears for the world, behind the guy who finds humor in everything, to the man who isn’t altogether sure of what he wants, just something beyond the shallow existence he has now. I also enormously enjoyed how the author wove faith throughout the story. It isn’t a big focal point of the story, this book doesn’t preach, but what it does say matters quite a lot. I believe I shall be purchasing a paper copy of this book for my shelf, as soon as it releases, and then eagerly anticipating the next book, which I’ve heard “might” be Trent’s book! My thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book! I was not required to write a positive review and have not been compensated for it in any way. All opinions expressed are my own.
This is the second full length book in the Hawthorne series. It was wonderful. It is best to read A Noble Masquerade first to understand some of the characters. I loved Lady Georgina and Colin McCrae. Lady Georgina has a secret that she doesn't want anyone to know and feels she must marry a rich man To hide it. Can Colin change her mind? I received this from Bethany House for a fair and honest opinion.
Thursday, August 18, 2016 An Elegant Façade by Kristi Ann Hunter, © 2016 Hawthorne House series, Book 2 If you have read the author's previous stories ~ eNovella A Lady of Esteem, introducing you to her full-length novel, A Noble Masquerade, you will have already met younger sister Georgina trotting behind her sister, Miranda. Perhaps you haven't liked her too much. Now she has a chance to redeem herself ~ maybe ~ as she speaks for herself in book 2, An Elegant Façade. Could it be her story may not match what others see ~ when she has something hidden from view ~ except her close maid and confidante? You may also be aware, or unaware ~ of Colin McCrae. He is a friend of Ryland, Duke of Marshington. There are business adventures and secret meetings going on and a continuation of a little spying it seems. What a fun game for Colin ~ that is until he comes across Lady Georgina Hawthorne at the masquerade opening of her debut to society. She has her "dance card" hoping for a well-planned Regency Season. With Colin volleying in the middle, there are a few snippets of "honest" conversation, should either of them pick up on it. Learning to trust and get beyond the plan to be herself, Georgina may find her sister Miranda has never been an obstacle, but rather a true friend. The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil. ~ Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14 The unraveling of true self and direction change courses of lives. What is hidden will be known from the rendering of the heart. From all of the speculation between men and women, known to be known is the best find of all. I always anticipate with them, who will come calling? Having to make small talk and a line forming at the door. Previously giving a signal that you would like to be called upon, and you wait for them to have gotten the clue and arrive on visiting day. Do they know and use the fan language? The Regency era gave way to misinterpretation without being forthright. Colin and Georgina don't seem to have a problem being heard if... they listen. ***Thank you to Bethany House for sending a review copy of Kristi Ann Hunter's An Elegant Façade, Book 2 in the Hawthorne House series. This review was written in my own words. No other compensation was received.***
Wow. I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this book. I didn’t read the first book in the series, but I can safely say you can read this one and fully enjoy it without reading the first. However, reading this has now put A Noble Masquerade on my list to read very soon. Apparently, the first half of this book is stuff that happened in the first book but from Georgina’s perspective. I’ll be honest, at first I wasn’t a big fan of Georgina, she was so calculating and fake. But the truth is she is like most of us. Covering up her wounds so others won’t see them. There was a such a deep spiritual message hidden within this book. What I took away was the beauty in being fully known. Sharing our hurts with others and allowing them to love us through the pain. There is a great Genesis 5020 message, which of course I loved. Obviously, I came to love Georgina and relate to her very well, as I see now I have acted the same way she has, I tried to cover up my shame and craft this wall around me that could never keep me safe. I also appreciated how Kristi showed Georgina’s growing relationship with the Lord. Colin, I adored. What a great hero. So strong and ready to protect Georgina even when she didn’t know she needed it. There aren’t too many books that make me want to cry, but let me tell you, if my husband wasn’t sitting next to me as I finished this book I would have been bawling. It was so beautiful and perfect. I can’t recommend this one enough. A copy of this book was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Kristi Ann Hunter's novel An Elegant Façade is set during the early 1800's within the borders of beautiful England. Most activity takes place in London, but the characters also travel to other parts of the United Kingdom--including Glasgow, Scotland. This text focuses on the Regency era way of life, which includes all the rules and regulations pertaining to society and a young women making her debut. Lady Georgina has one purpose in life, and that is to find a husband who will not only grant her station and wealth but also protection. However, she holds a particular secret that only seems to grow worse through the years, and she wonders if she can keep this part of her life hidden any longer. Her family does not even know the burden she has been carrying for so long, but Lady Georgina continues to sacrifice herself, because she knows it is what society deems for her to do. Yet, there will come a time where certain questions will be raised, and Lady Georgina must decide what path she will choose. Will she take the road she always saw herself living, or will life present an opportunity she never wanted? Colin McCrae is from Scotland, yet he finds himself living and conducting business in London. This is not necessarily by choice, but mostly because ties in his family have ceased to exist. Colin and his father are no longer getting along because of poor choices made regarding the family business; therefore, Colin chooses to make a new life for himself in a different area of the country. London seems like the perfect spot, since so many men need sound business advice while operating their trade in a major city. Colin already has a few friends there, but surprisingly he suddenly becomes very close with the Hawthorne family. Of course, he does not realize how much this one family will turn his life upside down. This is a wonderful book I wanted to continue to read, because I never wanted the story to end. The characters are so beautifully written and constructed, which allowed me to discover how much more I wanted to know about their journeys beyond the pages of this book. These feelings are the perfect ingredients to proclaim the evidence of a brilliant story. I love reading novels from this time period, and Lady Georgina did not disappoint when it came to representing her era. Her thoughts and actions mimicked the way a proper lady must perform in front of a gentleman during her time period perfectly. Her cunning wit and charm she used to communicate with others was interesting to witness--especially when her thoughts began to slowly change as she transformed with each turn of the page. For the men of this era, it was intriguing to consider the thoughts of certain men in order to understand what they truly thought of their own society--while also discovering the expectations that many men steadfastly held to regarding the women they wanted to marry. If you love the Regency era and all its historical adventures, I highly recommend reading this book. This review is my honest opinion. Thanks to Bethany House Publishers for my copy.
An Elegant Facade is the second novel in the Hawthorne House series. I have read the first book, A Noble Masquerade, and I found it nearly impossible to put down. That being said, you don't need to read the first book in order to love this one. I would recommend reading both because Krisite Ann Hunter is one of my favorite authors. Also in the first book you also meet the two main characters in this story. Georgina and Colin are from different social classes, but for some reason they keep running into each other. Set in England in the early 1800s there are rules you are supposed to follow, and they aren't always fun. Georgina has high hopes, and doesn't want Colin to stand in her way. Georgina needs to make a match. Being the prettiest girl around won't hurt. But beneath all of the fuss Georgina is hiding something. Her secret is the reason she feels she must marry someone of the highest possible class. Marrying for love is out of the question, not that she sees the prospect of falling in love a good thing. Will she set her sights on the man that's right for her? Or will she be too lost in hiding her secret to see what's right in front of her. Colin is a smart man, and he is really good with investments. For these reasons he is invited to a lot of places someone of his class would not be permitted. He has friends in high places and has been enjoying his life. That is until he meets Georgina. The belle of the ball is distracting, and he finds that he enjoys sparring with her. He can tell there is something more to her than trying to make the match of the season, but will she let him see what it is? Or will their egos get in the way? This story was so much fun to read. Hunter had me laughing and I enjoyed every minute of it. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Historical fiction. I felt taken back in time, and found it interesting learning more about that long ago era. I also thought it was interesting to see the different relationships between classes. I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest opinion. All opinions expressed are my own.
I really enjoyed Kristi’s debut novel, A Noble Masquerade, and was looking forward to reading Georgina’s story and this didn’t disappoint. I love reading all types of stories and I love when there’s excellent and honestly developed characters. It makes following a story of two people so enjoyable. Hunter really shines with Georgina. If you read the first book, you’ll know she had much to strive for, but no worries, you don’t need to read the first book in order to understand that. Again, Hunter did a great job revealing that. I loved Colin too! He was steadfast in who he was and his friendship with Georgina had me cracking up. There were some excellent one liners Georgina thought that made me chuckle quite a bit. I also enjoyed “seeing” the other family members (enough to be pleasant, but not take away from the main characters). I also have to say, if there’s anything to do with family and reconciliation, Jamie is going to cry. It can be a commercial of families reuniting and I’m done. So in a book? My heart loves those types of scenes! I’m super excited the rest of the siblings will get their own books and I eagerly await what’s next! What fictional family are you a fan of and kinda wish you were friends with? (Thank you to Bethany House for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review) Originally posted at: http://booksandbeverages.org/2016/08/03/elegant-facade-kristi-ann-hunter-book-review/
Kristi Ann Hunter instantly drew me into "An Elegant Facade," the third book in the Hawthorne House series, by declaring that "A Noble Masquerade" and "An Elegant Facade" overlap each other, with the book in my hands giving a more in-depth look at Georgina Hawthorne, the belle of London. By 1800, Georgina has plotted and practiced for years to be the most desirable wife and enters her debut season with high expectations. Her only hurdle looks to be Colin McCrae, the mysterious and alluring Scottish businessman. The best points of the book were the details of the Season and character interactions, although I initially struggled to keep all of the eligible bachelors straight. After a couple of chapters, though, I was able to be fully immersed in the story and continue excitedly to not only see the outcome but also how Georgina arrived at her decisions. Hunter is a great author and one I will keep following! I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers for my honest review.
Lady Georgina Hawthorne is perfect. At least, she appears to be. For years, she’s carefully planned her debut season. It must be flawless, and above all things, yield a wealthy husband. Nothing will deter her, not even her sister’s apparent interest in the Duke of Marshington, the man Georgina wishes to marry. Even though Colin McCrae, a close friend of the Duke, holds no official title, he’s respected for his business acumen. Hailing originally from Scotland, he has numerous ventures in London and elsewhere, and is sought after for his wise business counsel. It’s 1813, after all, and progress in farming and industry knows no bounds. Colin’s path intersects with Georgina’s more often than she would like. Matter of fact, their exchanges at social gatherings impact her thinking to the point where her conscience and Colin’s voice are interchangeable in her head. It’s maddening, really, for she knows he disapproves of her plan to snag a secure future with a rich husband, and she stumbles over Colin at every turn. Georgina does her best to continue her quest, despite a distressing flaw that only she and her lady’s maid know about. Unfortunately, Colin is dangerously close to discovering her well-hidden secret. In the meantime, Colin wrestles with issues due to a rift with his father. He’s also frustrated with his growing attraction to Georgina, the socialite who seems as shallow as a puddle from a London rainstorm. About the time Georgina and Colin seem to establish a truce, events and emotions ramp up, and misunderstandings flourish again. Will Georgina find the right husband and the security she’s looking for? Will Colin make peace with his father? I won’t give too much away, but I will say that this book has a happy ending. Matter of fact, I believe the end was my favorite part. An Elegant Façade offers a thought provoking and sweeping jaunt through the Regency period. The reader experiences everything from the elaborate estates of well-bred society to shady characters who use others for personal gain. Ms. Hunter does an excellent job of creating an authentic story complete with an intricate plot and realistic characters. I must admit though, I didn’t like Georgina at first. She was spoiled with an agenda that only served her goals. It was interesting to watch her character grow through events and the perspective Colin offered her. Colin wasn’t perfect either, but much more likeable from the outset. The lessons they both experienced are timeless –self-deception, faith, life, love, and honor. It compelled me to look at my own life, whom I serve and what I deem as important. I’ll be watching for Book 3 in this series.
Nutshell: Lady Georgina Hawthorne is on a mission. A mission to marry with as high as status as possible. This would be the only way to secure her secret. With her beauty and her trademark white wardrobe, she is ready for the Season. With her plan in place, Georgina steps out in to the Season with style determined to catch the eye of the most eligible suitors. The eye that can't seem to look away from her belongs to Colin McCrae, a frugal business man with no social status. He is able to see beneath Georgina's facade to the true person beneath. But she wants nothing to do with him. eUnforeseen vents seem to draw them together, but Georgina fights against being seen with Colin. What her heart truly needs is not at all what she portrays to the world. Where will her choices lead her future? Pro's: This storyline is well written and reminds me a lot of the time period that Pride and Prejudice takes place. It was easy to picture the surroundings based on other books written in the 1800 time frame. It was a solid romantic book with a bit of excitement thrown in. Con's: This book some getting in to. It is a continuation of Hunter's first book A Noble Masquerade. It took a good chunk of time to figure out the who was who and what happened in the first book. It would have been easier to jump in the book at the get go if I had read the first book. Recommendation: If you are able to get past the first few chapters and figure out the storyline, you will enjoy this book. Bethany House Publishers sent me this complimentary copy to review for them. Opinions expressed are my own.
I absolutely adored this book! At the beginning, I wondered how the author was going to get her hero and heroine to their happily ever after, since they were so different. But she skillfully showed their growth until I (and they) knew they were perfect together. Lady Georgina has a secret and in an attempt to keep it to herself has hatched a plan to marry well. Very well. Unfortunately, there are only a few dukes and earls suitable. And the first two had to go and fall in love with someone else. Georgina is getting desperate. Colin McCrae is a businessman, fully aware that he is considered far beneath the peers in society, but perfectly acceptable to do business with while making them money. He's drawn into his friends' family drama and is thrown together with the spoiled and bratty Lady Georgina. Or so he thinks of her. Until he begins to see the young woman behind the desperate hunt for a husband. Reading the first book in the Hawthorne House series would be helpful but not required to enjoy this one. I can hardly wait to see who's next up in the series. -- I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I honestly loved it!
Readers, if you haven’t discovered Kristi Ann Hunter’s stories yet, you MUST check out her books! After enjoying her debut novel, I expected this sequel to be just as entertaining and romantic. And it was! The story picks up its pace quickly and renews old acquaintances from the first book in a new light. These ladies and gentlemen have such layers to them, both spiritual and emotional. I had a hard time putting the book down! Georgina is a complex character, with faults and a personality that seem to turn people away at times. However, beneath the surface, beyond the expectations of others, she has a soft heart and a deep desire to be loved unconditionally. Even despite her harsher traits, she still gained my sympathy with ease and I found myself rooting for her to find true love and healing. One of my favorite parts of the book was the romantic tension and witty banter between Georgina and Colin McCrae. LOVE his name, btw. He stole the show in my opinion. He’s kind and understanding, capable and trustworthy. He sees the real Georgina that she tries so hard to hide. Watching them fight the magnetism that draws them together was perfect. Like I said before, I couldn’t read fast enough! If you enjoy Regency novels, with history and romance tucked in, this book is one you won’t want to miss. It compliments the first book in the series nicely, without taking away from it. I love stepping inside stories like this one. An Elegant Facade was a reward to read. I’ll be watching for this author’s next book, that’s for sure. Each story is such fun! This review is my honest opinion. Thanks to NetGalley for my copy.
Kristi Ann Hunter's An Elegant Façade brought me back to the Regency period and made me want to remain there with her characters. This book is the sequel to A Noble Masquerade, but you really don't need to have read the first book to completely understand the second story. They actually overlap, and kudos to Ms. Hunter for pulling this off so well! For three years, Georgina and her lady's maid, Henriette, have been keeping tabs on the ton, recording gossip and observations about the most eligible of the bachelors in secret. Georgina is determined that her first Season will be the most successful London has seen in an age, and by the end of it she will be betrothed to a man with high standing, good pedigree, and great wealth - all to make certain she will be protected if ever her shameful secret is revealed. Now, before you assume you know what that secret is - it's not what you're thinking. Georgina has not given herself to some cad who promised her a fine wedding and an even finer house. Neither is she illegitimate and raised by a kindly family who never let on about her tainted birth. I won't tell you her secret shame, but believe me, it works so well with this story! Then we have Colin. Georgina's beauty catches his eye first, naturally, but that beauty is soon offset by her shallow and petty ways. Georgina admits to herself he's handsome enough, but he's a nobody. He's not got a title, and he's certainly no catch, though he somehow gets invited places he shouldn't. Their growing attraction might be hidden from each other, but they can't hide the fact from themselves, however much they wish they could! I know this part sounds as though it would lead to a regular, run-of-the-mill romance, but it's written so well that it's nowhere near that. The only scene that really seemed forced to me was one with Colin, Georgina, and a Bible in the library. Unfortunately, I can't explain what my trouble was with it without giving away too much of the story, and I hate when people do that to me! It's certainly not enough to throw the entire story into disbelief-mode, for which I'm grateful. I enjoyed this book too much for that to happen. **I was sent this copy from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my fair and honest opinion.**
In preparation for reading and reviewing An Elegant Façade I went back and reread a good portion of A Noble Masquerade because the author said that she started off this book before the first was finished. And boy did she. I had thought that this book would start off in the middle of the climax of the last book, but no, this book starts off with the events that were happening about halfway into the first and you do not come to events that are originally this story’s until you are halfway done with this book. I found it was interesting going back and reading Georgina’s and Colin’s perspective in this story, but at some times I just wished the book would get on to their story already and stop restating Miranda and Ryland’s. This book is about Georgina Hawthorne, Miranda’s supposed spoiled younger sister; however, everything everyone else believes about Georgina is a lie. A façade you might say… She is actually caring, smart, and undeniably clever; but she hides all these attributes under the pretense of a spoiled snob who only cares for herself in order to protect her deepest secret. A secret that could potentially ruin her if it came to light. Georgina believes it to be only a matter of time before the rest of the ton realizes her secret, and so she is on the quest to find herself a husband with a reputation strong enough to protect hers if worst comes to worst. That man is certainly not Colin McCrae, a man from Scotland with no title and only business connections to the ton. I found Colin to be a very easy going likeable character who is just as amusing in this book as he was in the first. I enjoyed Georgina’s point of view and found her surprisingly likeable despite the façade she hid behind, because I could sympathize with her (I always seem to with the younger sisters, what with me being a younger sister myself). The one disappointment I had with this book was that after rereading the action filled climax of the last book I was most excited to see what kind of climax this book would have, only to realize that this book’s climax was actually more of an emotional climax than an active one. However, I still found the book to have a fast pace, and there are some things that take place midway through the book that will keep you turning the pages… I received a copy of this book for an honest review from Bethany House Publishers and the opinions are my own.
How much is Lady Georgina willing to risk to protect her secret? Will she be able to keep up her façade long enough to land a titled husband who will protect her at all costs? First things first...I have NEVER read a book quite like this. And I LOVE it!!! The storyline overlaps A Noble Masquerade from both Lady Georgina's and Colin McCrae's perspective. Giving us a whole new level to the story. Simply brilliant. (Kristi, I am happy you were able to retain a bit of sanity while writing it, the result is beautiful!!!) We revisit several scenes and now I want to go back and reread the original scenes in A Noble Masquerade. Kristi weaves the story together so beautifully. Both intriguing and refreshing, there is not a dull moment between the covers of this book. Lady Georgina's character definitely lives up to the expectations presented to us in both the novella and the first book of the series. I fully expected her to be self-centered and snobbish and that is how she begins. However, her secret (and no, I'm not telling you what it is) adds a new dimension to her character that produced compassion in me, for her (yes I am shocked myself). Her journey and growth is astonishing to behold. And I can say that I am truly proud of the person that she becomes. And can I just say, "Lord bless Colin McCrae." Annie over on Just Commonly has already called dibs on Colin, which is fine with me. But he is one of the most charming and by far a favorite hero of mine. His growing admiration of Georgina was thrilling to see unfold before my eyes, and closely mirrored my own feelings about her. Faith and self acceptance play a big role in this book. Not only being ok with who you are and how God created you, but thriving in that knowledge that God accepts us for who we are. It is truly important to realise how valued we are, not just by God, but our friends and family as well. And above all, there is nothing too great to keep the Father's love from us. I am even more excited now for Trent's story in An Uncommon Courtship scheduled to come out in January 2017. I received a free copy of An Elegant Façade from the author in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are mine alone.
An Elegant Façade is the second book in Kristi Ann Hunter’s Hawthorne House series, coming after A Noble Masquerade. I have been a huge fan of Kristi Ann’s ever since I first read her prequel to this series—A Lady of Esteem—a while back, so I was super excited for this book. By the time I first read the synopsis months ago, I was hooked, and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this novel. When I finally was able to read it, I completely and utterly devoured it, and I’m already dying to read it again. Lady Georgina Hawthorne is such a complex character. Although I’m not very fond of her public persona, I absolutely love who she is underneath, and I am very impressed with how much of a genius she is to have perfected the shallow side of herself she shows to the public. She impresses me to no end, and I absolutely loved getting to know the real her as the book went on. Plus, I cannot even describe to you how much I love her relationship, or should I say non-relationship based on much of the book, with Colin McCrae. Colin McCrae is by far one of my favorite heroes of all time. And he definitely deserves that title after all that he does for Georgina in this book. I don’t want to spoil anything for you, but he kind of reminds me of Mr. Darcy in a way, which is definitely another plus in his column. It just helped me to love him all the more, though that wasn’t difficult because he is most certainly a very loveable character. He is so brave, so smart, and so kind and compassionate, that I couldn’t help but love him and know that he was perfect for Georgina. All in all, I really, really loved this book, and I absolutely cannot wait for the next one! It’s about Lord Trent, the younger of Georgina’s two brothers, and I’m so glad it is! I already love him, and I’ve been dying for his story, so I’m so glad it’s coming out in January, though that seems so far away! Anyway, I cannot imagine giving An Elegant Façade anything other than all five bookshelves, and it definitely has a place on my all-time favorites list! I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher in exchange for only my honest review. (This review is from my blog, spreadinghisgrace.blogspot.com)