XOXperts Review: The Look of Love by Julia Kelly

Title: The Look of Love
Series: The Matchmaker of Edinburgh, #1
Author: Julia Kelly
Release Date: October 9, 2017
Publisher: Pocket Star
Pages: 300
Genre: Historical Romance
Format: eBook
Source: XOXO After Dark

Discover the first installment in the new delightfully charming Scottish romance series where the matchmaker of Edinburgh uses her uncanny abilities to create the perfect matches—even if the couples are doubtful they’ll ever find love.

An accomplished sculptor with secret ambitions, Ina Duncan has managed to avoid marriage for years until an accidental encounter at a party leaves her near ruin and in need of a husband. Fast. Determined to find a willing husband for Ina, Edinburgh’s most powerful matchmaker, Moira Sullivan, quickly realizes that the solution to Ina’s problem might be right in front of her.

Ina’s best friend, Gavin Barrett, has a secret no one knows: he’s loved her for years. As the second son of a baronet, however, he knows he has little chance with his brilliant, beautiful friend. All that changes when Moira convinces Ina to propose a marriage of convenience to Gavin to save her from ruin. Ina only wants two things from him in return: a vow she can continue to sculpt and a promise they’ll remain in Edinburgh.

After a rocky start, happiness—and maybe passion—seems on the horizon for the newlyweds until a twist of fate bestows the title of Sir Barrett on Gavin and forces him to assume responsibilities he’s never wanted. Forced to mold herself into the perfect baronet’s wife, Ina must choose between her dreams and the man she’s learning to love.

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Historical romance is still not a genre that I automatically pick out. It’s just not a safe zone for me, despite having read a great batch of historical reads in the past. I am so very glad I took a chance on this book and this author.

Moira is the matchmaker that unites Gavin and Ina. Now, this couple is an absolute beautiful one. They are the best of friends and have such a strong friendship. Circumstances cause her to need a husband, and Gavin is the perfect choice. His secret feelings for her makes the situation sticky and sweet. Their marriage is a mere business deal on the surface, but they quickly learn there is so much more between them.

They already love one another beforehand platonically, but as the story goes on, the friendship becomes stronger and the romance swirls into the mix. Of course, Ina is unaware of Gavin’s intense feelings at first, but things heat up between them and there’s no denying the passion. Unfortunately, when things seem to be going well, their world tilts and their relationship is tested.

Gavin stole the show for me here. He is so genuine in his feelings for Ina, and I adore the way he prioritizes her. He encourages, supports, protects, and loves her so fiercely. His fear of potentially losing his best friend by admitting his feelings is so relatable and that fact brings his character to life.

This friends-to-lovers romance was charming, refreshing, and full of witty banter between the endearing characters. I loved the steady pacing which allows the reader to truly get a sense of who these characters are and why they think and act the way they do.

This was a lovely, exciting start to a brand new series, and I look forward to reading more. I highly recommend checking out this book, and if you’re new to author like me, I’d say jump in on her backlist title too.

Julia Kelly is the award-winning author of sexy historical and contemporary romances about smart women and the men who love them. She picked up her first romance novel and the bad habit of reading well past her bedtime when she was 13.

The first in Julia’s trilogy of Victorian-set romances, The Governess Was Wicked, is due out with Simon & Schuster’s digital imprint Pocket Star in 2016. She is also the author of Seduction in the Snow and The Wedding Week both of which appear as part of the One Week in Love series. In 2015, she was awarded first place in the Contemporary Romance Writer’s competition for her unpublished contemporary sports romance Second Chance Girl. Julia is also a founding member and host of First Draught, a monthly YouTube show and podcast exploring writing and romance.

During the day, Julia is an Emmy-nominated journalist in New York City where she chases breaking news and bosses reporters around. She never met a pair of stilettos she didn’t love and still stays up too late reading.