Ruan Bettancourt, the Duke of Cynssyr, intends to marry London’s most beautiful debutante. A case of mistaken identity forces him to marry her sister, spinster Anne Sinclair. Before long, he’s head-over-heels in love with his wife while Anne is determined to make the best of her unwanted marriage. Can Lord Ruin convince Anne he’s fallen in love?
Rating: Narration C-; Content: B-
I was really pleased to learn, a couple of weeks back, that Carolyn Jewel was venturing into the world of audiobooks with one of her best known titles, Lord Ruin. I confess to having a bit of a soft spot for Ruan and Anne, even though I recognise that the story is unevenly paced at times, as this was one of the first historical romances I read.
Ruan Bettancourt, the Duke of Cynssyr (and yes, there are several ‘sincere’ puns) is a playboy and serial heart-breaker. But, as all such men must come to realise at some point, he needs to sow his oats less wildly and beget himself an heir, which of course means taking a wife. As Ruan is the most gorgeous man in the ranks of the ton, it’s natural that his eye would fall upon society’s most beautiful women, and he has the lovely Miss Emily Sinclair firmly in his sights.
Anne Sinclair, the eldest of Emily’s sisters, is not at all pleased by the idea of Emily’s being married off to a dissolute fellow like “Lord Ruin” and is determined to prevent the match.
It’s no secret to say that she succeeds in doing so in a rather unorthodox manner, and is more than ably assisted in her efforts by the man himself! Caught in flagrante delicto while Anne is under the influence of too much laudanum, she and Ruan have no alternative but a hasty marriage – something about which Ruan finds himself strangely content. He quickly discovers that Anne suits him both in bed (and boy, does he discover it! I think the couple does the deed on just about every available flat surface) and out; she is level-headed, intelligent and perceptive, just the sort of wife to suit a man such as he, who is actively involved in government and takes his duties as a peer of the realm very seriously.
Anne finds her opinion of her new husband undergoing a rapid reassessment. Having believed him to be nothing but a dissolute womaniser, she is surprised to discover that he is in fact a man of honour who does not shirk his responsibilities, and, as the book progresses, one who is still haunted by his military past.
The ‘compromised into marriage’ trope is one I particularly enjoy, and this aspect of the book works well. At the beginning of the story, Anne feels that she is destined to remain a spinster and has more or less made her peace with that, being content to watch her sisters make excellent matches and resigned to the fact that she is going to be the one to look after her father in his old age. Because she is ‘merely’ pretty where all of her sisters are acknowledged beauties, she hides a mass of insecurities, and it’s these which prove the greatest barrier for Ruan to overcome in their marriage. Anne is unable to believe that a man such as he, rich, handsome and powerful, who could – and did – have his pick of the most beautiful women in society, could possibly want her, a woman with no beauty, youth, or much else to recommend her.
You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.