Author: Alyssa Everett
Release Date: 21 May 2012
Number of pages: 218 pages
Publisher: Carina Press
Source: ebook provided by publisher through NetGalley
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Author's Website, Carina Press, Amazon
Grade: 4.5 stars
Goodreads appetizer: After waiting five years for her fiancé to return from the war and marry her, Roxana Langley has been jilted! She may have longed for excitement, but this was not what she had in mind...
Who could possibly throw over a woman as beautiful and vivacious as Roxana? Certainly not Alex Winslow, the Earl of Ayersley, who has spent years trying in vain to forget his unrequited love. When he learns she's been abandoned by her cad of a fiancé, he finds himself offering a shoulder for her to cry on. Comfort soon turns into a passionate kiss—and scandal when they are caught in an embrace.
Only one thing will save Roxana from certain ruination: marriage to the earl. The match may save her reputation, but responsible, tongue-tied Ayersley is a far cry from her dashing former fiancé. She's convinced Ayersley is merely doing his duty...while he's sure Roxana is still in love with another man. Are they trading one disaster for another?
My Thoughts: As you can see from the blurb Ruined by Rumor is a marriage of convenience/forced marriage Regency historical romance, which is my favourite trope so I was excited to read it, and I’m happy to report that Ruined by Rumor is a delightful read. The more days pass since I finished it the more I appreciate its romantic charm and wittiness and wish to re-read Ruined by Rumor.
Roxana our heroine is a lively, smiling blonde, who takes nothing too seriously and has a generally sunny disposition (I would even venture and say at times she is silly). She is aptly described here:
If people were drinks, then Roxana Langley could only be champagne—sweet, bubbly, silver-blonde. And, unfortunately, she had the same way of going to Alex’s head.
She is not really a proper lady as she enjoys gossip and longs for scandal to stir up the dullness of her boring country life. She longs for excitement and passion, a love that sweeps her off her feet and she counts back the days ‘till her marriage to George, her fiancé as she believes she will get all that once they are married. But it becomes clear quite early on for the reader that George is a rake. One of the most charming ones, but still an irresponsible and unfaithful rake. He was a worthy modern Mr. Wickham. (And it seems everyone else sees George’s true nature except Roxana:
Roxana’s brother shares his opinion about George and his engagement to his sister:
All I know is he insisted they wait. I’ve spent the past five years hoping she’d give up on the blackguard, or perhaps some Frog marksman would do the world a favor and shoot him in the face—”
Alex, our hero, on the other hand is dreamy: sure he appears quiet and sometimes stumbles over words when speaking with Roxana, but as readers we get the advantage of hearing his thoughts and how he perceives their interactions and we cannot not fall in love with his steady devotion and utter loyalty to Roxana. Alex is a honourable man, he has morals, principles and integrity, and it doesn’t hurt that he is one very fine male specimen who sure knows how to kiss:
Roxana’s thoughts during one of their knee-weakening kiss:
Dear God, no wonder there were so many fallen women in the world when falling felt this good.
Alex brings depth and balances out Roxana’s carefree bubbly naiveté. I found them a couple who really suited each other especially because of the differences in their temperament. They are like light and dark, complete opposites which complement each other. Their romance was sweet yet passionate, the kind that makes you feel all warm and tingly. I also enjoyed how despite being all that is proper Alex still had a sense of humour and he could bring some light and wittiness to the story:
As husbands go, George would have been like those false pearls—all dazzle and shine at first glance, but really little more than fish scales and paste. You, on the other hand, are the kind of man I can respect for the rest of my life.”Alex broke into one of his swift, transforming grins. “Just don’t respect me too much. I mean, it’s all right if you have impure thoughts about me now and then.”
I only had two minor complaints. One of them was the storyline involving Fanny, Roxana’s best friend and how she found love with Mr. Dean. I found it too convenient and improbable on how their story resolved on both the marriage and career front.
The other is a personal preference of mine: I don’t like having the final big resolution played out in front of an audience. I find it remains more intimate and genuine if there are no big crowds who are cheering, applauding and intruding on their moment in any other way. I would have preferred if Roxana and Alex’s reconciliation didn’t take place in front of a public, as it didn’t sound either historically accurate and true to the time period or Alex’s character.
Verdict: Ruined by Rumor was like a Shakespeare play: full of continuous misunderstandings as the hero and heroine had a propensity to misinterpret everything the other said or did. Despite the humour and wittiness Ruined by Rumor was an angsty Regency romance of the best kind: the type where the reader is constantly biting their nails and having trouble swallowing as they are too anxious to see how the hero and heroine will finally find their way to each other.
With great, in-depth characterisations, flowing and witty narrative, Ruined by Rumor is an angsty but sweet Regency romance that any Pride and Prejudice fan will adore!
(And if you'd like to see some illustrations to the novel check out the things that inspired Alyssa Everett on her Pinterest board.)