Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Review: Ruined by Rumor by Alyssa Everett (5+ out of 5, historical)
Full Description: Amazon
Rating: 5+ out of 5
Thoughts After Reading:
The heroine to the hero, on their wedding night: "I have a crystal-clear memory of Tom’s dog, behaving with complete abandon whenever a particularly tempting leg caught his fancy. It’s essentially the same thing, is it not?”
It was only yesterday that I was reading about yet another rake reformed by the touch of a beautiful, innocent miss. I found myself asking why the hero couldn't be a nice guy on occasion, someone who isn't remotely like a rake but still gets the girl. I chalked up the idea as hopeless, being familiar with romance authors' fascination of alpha heroes. So imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon Alyssa Everett's Ruined by Rumor, a historical that played out my very idea - only with much more success than I could have imagined. Everett is actually a familiar name, as I reviewed her debut novel A Tryst with Trouble. However, I never would have made the connection on my own. While I remember A Tryst with Trouble as being a good read, Ruined by Rumor is quite simply spectacular. For one thing, the burgeoning romance between the protagonists is intensely sweet without sacrificing authenticity. The relationship misunderstandings are also reasonable yet heartbreaking, and the clever comic relief had me bursting out laughing. I'm no Regency scholar, but Ruined by Rumor certainly had the feel of historical accuracy with an almost traditional writing style. Throw in a thoroughly engaging storyline, and the result is one of the best historical romances I've ever read.
The storyline of Ruined by Rumor stays fairly close to the book's description. The heroine starts out every inch a county debutante - she's beautiful, innocent, and naive. At the age of eighteen, the heroine fell for the shallowly romantic gestures of a rakish officer. Her father allows them to become engaged, but asks her to wait five years before marrying. The book opens at the end of this agreed time period, with the officer coming back from the war and the heroine eager to move on with her life. She develops a few reservations about upcoming marriage, as she finds it hard to kiss her fiance and again when she finds out about his affairs abroad. He sweet talks her into going along with it, though, and she reasons that it's really too late to back out now. The heroine has grown up knowing the hero as one of her brother's friends, but believes him to be stuffy and proper - a misconception the fiance is all too happy to embellish. The hero, on the other hand, has grown up completely in love with the beautiful heroine. He's tried to approach her in the past, but his reserved personality causes her to think he dislikes her. Then, once she became engaged there's nothing much he could do. A few weeks before the wedding, the fiance tells her he can't marry her without telling her why. The hero goes to comfort her, and a spontaneous kiss occurs. The kiss is witnessed, and the hero proposes a marriage of convenience to fix the scandal. The hero is painfully aware of the fact that the heroine believes herself in love with the officer, but vows to make the relationship work as best as he can. The heroine, meanwhile, believes that the hero is being his ever dutiful self. I don't want to give too much away, but the marriage of convenience storyline that follows is very engaging and I found myself loving the characters. In particular, I enjoyed both the hero's and heroine's commitment to making the marriage work... even while I anxiously hoped for the misunderstandings to be resolved. I usually hate it when the hero falsely accuses the heroine and then storms off, but I made an exception here. As I said before, the final misunderstanding is agonizing... but at the same time, very understandable. The resolution was quite satisfying as well.
I absolutely loved reading Alyssa Everett's Ruined by Rumor. Not only was it exactly my kind of storyline, but every aspect of the novel seems to be well-written: characters, conflict, humor... you name it. The romance and historical detail were particularly enchanting, and I have to say that Everett has found in me a newly devoted fan.