Ruined by Rumor
Grade : A-

In Alyssa Everett’s Ruined by Rumor, Roxana Langley has been unofficially engaged to Major George Wyatt for five years. Her parents insisted the couple delay their wedding rather than Roxana following the drum, but the long wait is finally over. Roxana looks forward to George’s return and the official announcement of their betrothal, because she’s very much in love with him.

Unfortunately for Alex Winslow, the Earl of Ayersley, he’s very much in love with Roxana. He’s the best friend of her older brother and his country estate is close enough to theirs that the three of them often played together as children. But as they grew up, the differences between him and Roxana became more pronounced. She’s cheerful and vivacious, while Alex is serious and introverted, to the point where he feels miserably awkward at parties because he doesn’t know how to make conversation. George Wyatt mocks him as a “dull dog” to Roxana, and although she’s not so unkind, she doesn’t see Alex as anything more than a sensible, reliable friend of the family.

Until the ball where her betrothal is due to be announced, when Wyatt tells her in private that he can’t go through with it and won’t provide an explanation. Alex finds a devastated Roxana in the library, and as he comforts her, the two of them end up sharing a kiss. But they’re seen together, so Alex proposes to her. There seems to be no other choice, so Roxana finally accepts, though she’s convinced he’s only made the offer out of kindness. On top of that, although she likes Alex well enough, she doesn’t expect to enjoy the marital act. Exciting though it was to be in Wyatt’s company, because he’s suave and confident, she didn’t find his kisses pleasurable, and she’s so sheltered she has no idea what to expect from sex anyway.

So there is a lot going on in this story. Both Alex and Roxana want to make the best of their marriage; the problem is that they don’t know how. This is very much an opposites-attract romance, and one of my favorite moments was when Roxana finally grasps the extent of Alex’s social discomfort and suggests role-playing scenarios, where she pretends to be different people and he has to converse with them all. I love romances where the characters bring out the best in each other.

Roxana also realizes that although Alex isn’t a polished conversationalist with an arsenal of silver-tongued compliments for the ladies, there’s a lot beneath his surface. He genuinely cares about his tenants and is careful that in his enthusiasm to embrace new technology, he doesn’t leave people without jobs. He also does his best to be patient with Roxana, since Wyatt keeps accidentally-on-purpose meeting with her and making it clear that he can provide her with all the flirtation and fun that’s lacking in Alex. The scene where Alex finally has enough of this is almost painful to read because both his and Roxana’s confusion and hurt comes through so clearly.

While a lot of Alex’s and Roxana’s problems could have been solved with some straightforward conversation, the Big Mis feels like an organic result of their personalities and flaws. Before they’re caught together, Alex had mentioned to Roxana that he was in love with a woman, and had been so for all his life, so she now thinks he gave up his heart’s desire in order to marry her. Meanwhile, Alex thinks Roxana is still in love with Wyatt, but rather than tackle the issue head-on, he tries his best to give her the space she needs while hoping he can be a good enough husband that she’ll start to care about him instead.

At this point I was so anxious to find out what happened next that I read the book far too fast and gave myself eyestrain, but it was worth it. I enjoyed both Alex and Roxana a lot. Alex is a wonderful hero who’s nowhere near as inhibited between the sheets as he is at a party, and while Roxana seems naïve and superficial at first, she’s a loyal warm-hearted person whose real fault is being inexperienced. After all, even Elizabeth believed Wickham’s claims at first. And speaking of Wickham – er, Wyatt – he’s a pretty good villain because he’s so smoothly, cleverly manipulative. I guessed why he broke off his engagement to Roxana, but not the reason he entered into that engagement in the first place, so that was a nice twist too.

The end of the book is a little melodramatic but on the whole, Ruined by Rumor was a wonderful read. I recommend it for anyone who’s in the mood for a very well-written and moving historical romance.

Reviewed by Marian Perera

Grade: A-

Book Type: Historical Romance

Sensuality: Warm

Review Date : January 22, 2023

Publication Date: 04/2013

Recent Comments …

  1. This author (Judith Ivory) used to appear frequently in “best of” lists for historical romance; and it seems that this…

Marian Perera

I'm Marian, originally from Sri Lanka but grew up in the United Arab Emirates, studied in Georgia and Texas, ended up in Toronto. When I'm not at my job as a medical laboratory technologist, I read, write, do calligraphy, and grow vegetables in the back yard.
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