Review: Romancing the Ugly Duckling (Romancing the... #2) by Clare London

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.

The month of June with the Dreamspun Desires series has been off the charts amazing. This book, once again, is what the line is all about. It gives you the fluff and the feels all rolled into one hell of a sexy package AND it is set partly in Scotland! Can you hear my squeals of excitement at that?

Goodness, prepare for a ramble because this book, these two men, this setting and the damn dog were perfect!

We meet Perry Goodwood, fashionista and make-over extraordinaire, as he is confronted by the well-known handsome brothers of the Ventura family, who are imploring and employing him through his PR Agency to bring their outsider brother home to London so that they can sign a media contract. You see this contract is for a high paying Kardashian-esque reality show and the Ventura brothers need all siblings present, or the show may be passed on to another high profile family. So while Greg, the brother who doesn’t follow the norm or the flock, is off doing his own thing, they desperately need him back in London. Perry is happy to take on the job, though a bit reluctant as his boss seems to pass on all the lost causes to him when it comes to makeovers.

When the brothers produce an old photo of Greg, Perry is concerned on how to formulate a plan of action to make this brother, meld into and with suave and media perfected look of the others. Goodness, but the picture of Greg broke my heart. He’s younger than his current 26 years in the picture but he just seemed to be so uncomfortable in his body which happens to many young men and women as they grow into maturity. But what does seem to suit Greg is where he lives and I was ready for Perry to accept the job and get this meet cute on!

Scotland here I, er um, we come!

I was happy to turn the page and get Greg’s POV because with stories like this and honestly most stories, I love to see where each of our MC’s are coming from and I really wanted Greg’s thoughts on his brothers. We learn that Greg fled London and his family for the solitude of North Uist, on the Scottish Isles and to live in a cottage on the outskirts of the largest town, Lochmaddy. Greg is fine living alone with his Border Collie Rory, having the time to paint and having a pint with his mate Dougie at the local pub. He’s not given us his reason for leaving London and eschewing his family while ignoring their constant requests for him to come home nor has he let his bachelorhood be linked to his sexuality in the small town, though Dougie lets him know he’s aware of Greg’s rainbow tartan in the closet. Greg is just happy to be living alone, doing what he wants with the ability to not answer to a family demand.

On a wet and windy night, we get the meet cute as the men come face to face when Dougie drops a sodden Perry at Greg’s front door and Greg has no choice but the keep the man overnight. It’s not much of a hardship as both men do find one another attractive on a basic level though they keep it to themselves. The fun and flirting begins when Dougie drops off Perry and then the next morning when Perry meets Rory and of course when Birdie and Lisa show up. The girls are nothing but forward with their want of Greg to be happy and now that there is another gay man in town, they are all set for the match-making. But how can anyone be matched if Greg and Perry aren’t on the same page with why Perry is there?

The chemistry between Greg and Perry was perfect. You could feel it the second the two are in the room together and really get a good look at who is in front of them. Greg sees that while Perry is slight in physical stature, he makes up for it with his strength of character and tenacity and Perry sees how handsome and virile Greg is behind his shaggy hair and country clothes. When the men decide that Perry can stay with Greg a few days, helping out with the chores etc. and Greg will take that time to formulate an answer about returning to London with Perry to sign the contract with his brothers… I was on edge waiting to see how this romance would unfold and all the “why’s” Greg has about his family.

This story is so romantic and this hopeless romantic was in pure bliss reading it. I adored watching Perry find his way on the island with the locals and find his way with Greg. The whole talk about the selkie folklore was beyond adorable and added a bit of whimsy to the story that blended in so perfectly with the romance between Greg and Perry. Both men are wary of the others feelings and the classic “Why would you want me?” is there so the thought of a mythical creature you could keep just form hiding their pelt was doubly romantic for this story. Oh and of course, saving someone’s life gives you the opportunity to be forthright with your feelings and while the situation was not ideal, I am more than glad with the outcome because of it.

Both Greg and Perry have been treated poorly by those they’ve trusted and loved. Greg’s brothers and absent parents were outright bastards to him with his looks and all the bullying they did and Perry’s ex-boyfriend dragged Perry down to depths he doesn’t even share with his mother. But when the men allow themselves to talk, to get out the hurt done to them there is only comfort left and the comfort they offer is gorgeous.

These two were so much fun, so sweet and so damn sexy. Perry really took to the island and to being with Greg. I loved how he was unsure about Rory and then he and the Border collie become invested in one another just as Greg and Perry do. The men work so well together that they don’t see what’s right in front of them until London comes calling and declarations tumble unguarded and make me cry. Yup, this has those kind of heartbreaking but amazing feelings that punched me in the feels more than once.

Romancing the Ugly Duckling is a true romantic winner with both series it’s listed under. It’s the classic story of seeing what beyond the surface and beauty truly being in the eye of the beholder. It’s also a fantastic trip to the Scottish Isles that has me longing to cross a visit off my bucket list.

Don't miss the Romancing the Ugly Duckling release blitz + giveaway HERE

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