Title and Author: The Ruin of a Rake
Published by: Avon Impulse
Genre: Historical romance
Reviewed by: Anya
What to Expect: Enemies-to-lovers story with a unique twist. And kittens!
Plot: Rogue. Libertine. Rake. Lord Courtenay has been called many things and has never much cared. But after the publication of a salacious novel supposedly based on his exploits, he finds himself shunned from society. Unable to see his nephew, he is willing to do anything to improve his reputation, even if that means spending time with the most proper man in London.
Julian Medlock has spent years becoming the epitome of correct behavior. As far as he cares, if Courtenay finds himself in hot water, it’s his own fault for behaving so badly—and being so blasted irresistible. But when Julian’s sister asks him to rehabilitate Courtenay’s image, Julian is forced to spend time with the man he loathes—and lusts after—most.
As Courtenay begins to yearn for a love he fears he doesn’t deserve, Julian starts to understand how desire can drive a man to abandon all sense of propriety. But he has secrets he’s determined to keep, because if the truth came out, it would ruin everyone he loves. Together, they must decide what they’re willing to risk for love.
Review: The Ruin of a Rake continues the story of Lord Courtenay, who first appears in The Lawrence Brown Affair (check out Erin’s wonderful review of that book here http://bingeonbooks.com/historical-romance-review-the-lawrence-browne-affair-by-cat-sebastian/). Enemies-to-lovers is one of my favorite tropes, its promise of juicy angst never failing to draw me in. Add a historical setting with finely dressed, refined gentlemen trying to suppress their longing for one another and yeah, I’m ALL IN. I came to this book good and ready and Cat Sebastian didn’t disappoint me.
The story starts with Julian and Courtenay forming a hostile alliance after Eleanor, Julian’s sister, demands his assistance in reforming Courtenay’s bad reputation. At the beginning, I was convinced that Courtenay would be the ultimate Victorian bad boy trying to lure Julian with his wicked yet pleasurable ways and Julian would be prudish and boring. However, as the story progresses, the true nature of their characters emerges. Under his immaculate exterior, Julian is full of secrets and doesn’t have any qualms about using anything or anyone for his own gain. His only goal in life is advancing in high society and at times he seems almost machine-like with the constant calculations and schemes. At times I was wondering if he was capable of loving anyone at all.
Similarly to Julian’s true nature coming into light, we get more and more glimpses of Courtenay’s inner self. He is starved for love, friendship or even basic human affection. His family rejected him (spoiler: his mother is an appalling greedy hag), his sister died and he is being kept away from the nephew he adores. It quickly becomes apparent that under the veneer of a rake, Courtenay is very lonely and bewildered about his own affairs. Deep down, he doesn’t believe he deserves to be loved by anyone, much to Julian’s disbelief. He has been lusting after a fantasy Courtenay for a long time and he isn’t prepared for the real man behind the image of a scoundrel. I think that his desire to see Courtenay happy is what finally cracked Julian’s armor of propriety and isolation.
There were so many things about their relationship that appealed to me. I loved their banter from the start (grumpy Julian is hilarious) and the way it developed into affectionate bickering. Courtenay’s slowly growing fondness for Julian is adorable as is Julian being very protective of him in return. They blossom into better versions of themselves: Julian realizes that he needs to be more vulnerable and open to love and Courtenay is finally confident enough to go after what he wants. And their sex scenes are delicious. Lord have mercy, I just had to fan myself at the memory. This book is a perfect combo of charming and sizzling to end the series on a high note.
Now let me rave about Eleanor for a minute. While the romance between Julian and Courtenay is the main focus of the book, Eleanor shines in her own right and I couldn’t help falling in love with her. She has the whole package: the fierce loyalty to her friends who aren’t acceptable in the eyes of society (Lord Radnor, Courtenay), her bravery in the face of public scorn, and her brilliant, inquisitive mind. A total win of a secondary character with this girl!
What you might not like/doesn’t work for you: You might prefer your rakes on a more villainy side. Courtenay will make you want to hug him, A LOT.
What you will love: An interesting twist of the traditional rake/his savior trope. Cortenay’s sweet, sweet love for Julian. Julian’s desire to protect Courtenay at any cost. MY HEART, MY HEART. Eleanor is everything. And so many kittens! Any book wins extra cookies from me for kittens.
When not reading for pleasure, Anya is proofreading so it’s ALL THE BOOKS ALL THE TIME for her. She absolutely loves introducing people to new books and share the moment of “SQUEEE that book is amazing!” with them. Read all of her reviews here.
Connect with her: @shiny_luv