Lord Ruin, by Carolyn Jewel

>> Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Yesterday I finished reading Lord Ruin, by new-to-me author Carolyn Jewel.

Mistaken identity and a night of shattering passion force a marriage of opposites: Ruan, duke of Cynssyr, a sophisticated and notorious rake, and Anne Sinclair, a spinster with the bad luck of being a pretty woman born to a family of beauties. Will "Lord Ruin" succeed in showing Anne that more than passion unites them or will their differences keep them apart?
I thought I was going to like this much more than I did. A very disappointing C.

Can I fault the author for not writing the book I want her to write? She sets up a situation full of potential, and then just doesn't use it well. The book starts with a rake who accidentally sleeps with the woman his best friend intends to marry, a woman who's also more than half in love with said best friend. The "accidentally" is because he thinks she's a whore, and she's been dosed with laudanum and placed in his room, because her hosts think he'll be there only the following day. Discovered, they are forced to marry and make the best of circumstances. The rake falls deeply in love with his wife, but believes she's still in love with his best friend and that she resents having had to marry him.

Sounds interesting, right? The first 75 or so pages were wonderful, but things started going downhill from then on. Jewel just didn't do enough with this situation. Much of their dealing with their new marriage is off-stage, and the rest is glossed over. In those early stages, we see Ruan's growing sexual obsession, but almost nothing of Anne's perspective on things. It was just unsatisfying.

I had a couple of problems with the protagonists. First, Ruan: was he an all-powerful duke, a well-respected politician or a dissolute rake, Lord Ruin, Insincere Cynssir, etc? Still, I ended up liking him, and I enjoyed to see him fall hard for Anne and torture himself because he thought she didn't feel the same. I especially appreciated the fact that he was perfectly aware that he had behaved very badly towards Anne and tried to make up for it, and that he liked her. He admired her brains and he loved spending time with her, and this was the best thing about the book.

As for Anne, I didn't like her very much. I guess she was supposed to be quietly strong, but her submissiveness rubbed me the wrong way, and I saw her as week. Maybe the problem was that, I mentioned before, we almost never saw the inner struggles that resulted in her choosing to behave as she did.

And then there was the suspense subplot, which completely overpowered what there was of the romance. I suppose it was interesting, in a way, but it was not what I wanted to read about, and it didn't fit in well with the tone of the rest of the book. It was too dark and disturbing, a bit like what happened in Debra Dier's Dangerous.

Finally, the writing itself was a huge problem. It was nothing a good editor couldn't have fixed, but apparently, the person who edited this must have been asleep the whole time. I often didn't know what the hell the author was talking about, and who she was talking about. Every few pages, there was a character whose name I'd never heard, and the character was dealt with as if I should know who he or she was. Sometimes it turned out to be someone new (victims in the suspense subplot, usually) and sometimes they were people we knew by another name. It was very, very irritating.

This was the type of book that make me sad for what could have been :-(

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