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REVIEW: A Ruined Season by Jennifer Mueller

Dear Mrs. Mueller,

To begin, congratulations on your first print book. I liked the different “Impressionistic” cover. Your publisher did very well by you but I must say that I hope a less expensive, paperback edition will eventually be available for readers in the US.

Two years ago, The Honorable Miss Sophie Greenwood had just arrived in London for her first Season when it was over before it had barely begun. Her father’s attempt to increase the family fortune ended up costing them almost everything they had. But what was worse, at least in the eyes of the ton, was her mother’s desperate attempts to marry her off before the news became widely known.

She was unsuccessful, Sophie was humiliated and the family retreated to their modest country estate. Her brother bought a commission in the Army with what little funds they could scrape together and since then, Sophie has endured her mother’s tantrums and veiled comments making Sophie out to be the villain of the story.

She looks at her bleak future with dread until the day Mariah, a cousin, arrives with Lady Sandbourne who is to present Mariah for her first Season. Mariah has inveigled an invitation for Sophie to join them. Not expecting much, Sophie jumps at the chance to escape her mother, if only for a summer.

Has London society forgotten the disaster of two years ago? What is behind the mysterious letter her brother sends after the battle of Vitoria? Why is a madman chasing and attacking Sophie in the streets? And will Sophie finally find a man who doesn’t care about her past or her lack of fortune?

In Jane’s recent post on the resurgence of the historical, several posters indicated that they would be interested in reading about a man from *gasp* trade who is the hero of the story. At the risk of giving away the game, here is such a novel and brava for it. While Jane Austen might not have had a hero in trade, she certainly populated her books with plenty of plain Misters and see how beloved they still are.

Sophie is certainly an outspoken miss and states her mind about a lot of things. At first it was a bit of a shock but after thinking on it, it’s understandable. Why bother to be nicey nice when no one is nice to her? She’s seen everyone’s true colors and feels under no obligation to play along as they ignore or embarrass her. I also love that it is this very quality which her hero admires and demands from her.

Mariah is a sweetie and one of the few people in Sophie’s life who is looking out for her and trying to help her. Sophie’s own mother is a harridan and I laughed to hear of her father’s wedding present to Sophie – that he wouldn’t allow Lady Canmore to visit the newly wed Sophie for a year!

As she says, the price of her “made over” gowns is almost too much to be born in the humiliations Sophie suffers. When Sophie learns of the bets placed on the outcome of her time in London, I felt for her. But in the end, it made her triumph all the more sweet. Not that she would, but she could thumb her nose at the lot of them and say to her beloved father, I found the gem among the dross.

Lady Sandbourne pays the price in the end with her marriage to the wolfish Lord Wolfenway who apparently has no more money that does she. I almost hate that Mr. Asquith will win his bet but crowed with delight that Aunt Sandbourne would not.

I was so glad when Halestrop was finally tackled and caught. I mean, how many times can one man evade Sophie’s guards to get within striking range of her then escape yet again? And wouldn’t his leg have festered to the point where he’d be down for the count anyway?

Phillippa and her older husband are wonderful people. Along with Sophie and Mariah, she knows of, and adheres, to noblesse oblige. Tilly is taken care of as well as the Beresford’s neighboring family which has fallen on hard times. While the jumped Marchioness acts like a guttersnipe. Mr. Dyson is a darling as well as he tries to go into matchmaker mode along with Phillippa.

William Kittridge is just the most delicious hero. He’s got a wicked sense of humor – keeping Sophie in the dark about his true worth and acting the rake with Sophie late in the evening when her arriving parents can’t see her face. He impressed Sophie’s father with his determination to wed her and he likes Sophie just as she is.

Details of Regency life are worked into the story in a “matter of fact” way but not overdone. It’s not fact after fact after fact shoved at us. Those who are sticklers might want more but those who just want a good story should be satisfied.

I did notice some confusing inclusion of and lack of commas that would stop my eye as I read. And perhaps a few more “tags” would have made it clearer which characters were being referred to in various passages. But for readers searching out something other than the standard “yet another Duke hero,” A Ruined Season is a nice change. B

~Jayne

This book can be purchased at Amazon in hardcover. No ebook format.

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

24 Comments

  1. Lori
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 13:00:40

    Oh, this sounds interesting!! Thank you!

    ReplyReply

  2. Kalen Hughes
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 13:07:23

    This looks great! I’m really bummed to see that it’s from Robet Hale though, as that means it won’t have a MM or an eBook edition. :( On the other hand, if you like quality HB, Hale does great work.

    ReplyReply

  3. joanne
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 13:09:23

    Sounds exactly like my cuppa and I was buying a ticket on the ‘Not An Aristocrat Historical Romance’ train until I saw the price tag.

    A pretty hardcover is nice for the author but since she’s an unknown to me I’ll be waiting for the less expensive paperback or ebook version.

    ReplyReply

  4. LizA
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 13:14:37

    Sounds like a great book…
    Just a minor “quibble” – I might be wrong, but I thought the season was in autumn and spring, not in summer. Didn’t everyone retire to their country estates in summer?

    ReplyReply

  5. Jayne
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 13:20:15

    So Hale doesn’t do less expensive versions? Ever?

    ReplyReply

  6. Jayne
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 13:21:48

    LizA, I thought so too. That London was too hot and smelly during the summer. But I think there were some entertainments to be had then even if the mad crush was later in the year.

    ReplyReply

  7. Kalen Hughes
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 13:22:05

    I'll be waiting for the less expensive paperback or ebook version.

    There won’t be one (unless Mueller retained her eRights and contracts with a seperate publisher). Hale is an English publisher who specializes in HB only (mostly for the library market). They've been reissuing my friend Emily Hendrickson's Regencies for a couple of years now, and have done a wonderful job with them. Their romances are also specifically “Regencies” (as in not to sexy; along the lines of what you'd find in a category Regency).

    ReplyReply

  8. Jayne
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 14:25:16

    Jennifer Mueller started in ebooks so hopefully she will be savvy about making sure this book eventually sees the e-light of day. In the meantime, perhaps checking with your local libraries or asking about an ILL might get it in your hands.

    ReplyReply

  9. Kalen Hughes
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 14:59:34

    Just a minor “quibble” – I might be wrong, but I thought the season was in autumn and spring, not in summer. Didn't everyone retire to their country estates in summer?

    “The Season” (for Regency set books) runs from about April/May through July (aka when Parliment was in session, Easter to the end of July). So it’s a spring/early summer kind of thing. There is no ‘Little Season” in the fall, that’s a Victorian thing (though would likely have been parties and such, just on a smaller scale).

    ReplyReply

  10. Kalen Hughes
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 15:00:24

    Jennifer Mueller started in ebooks so hopefully she will be savvy about making sure this book eventually sees the e-light of day

    *fingers crossed*

    ReplyReply

  11. Trish
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 15:29:39

    I’ve always wanted to try Jennifer Mueller but don’t have an ereader (yet). If you want an author who writes in unusual and varied time periods, she’s your girl. She’s written books set in ancient Egypt, Greece, Post-Norman Invasion England (1067), Renaissance Italy, Cuba, 1939, Byzantium 1034 to name just a few.

    Check out her website: http://www.jennifermuellerbooks.com/

    ReplyReply

  12. Moth
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 15:55:16

    Grrr…. I know I’ve heard of this book before on the internets but now I can’t remember where. Was it mentioned on DA before? This is bugging my hindbrain to no end.

    ETA: Ah! I figured it out. The Unusual Historicals blog had an excerpt up a few weeks ago:

    http://unusualhistoricals.blogspot.com/2009/04/excerpt-thursday-jennifer-mueller.html

    I remember thinking it sounded really good then too. Just too bad the price tag is so high. :(

    ReplyReply

  13. Jayne
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 16:03:20

    Hell yeah, Trish. If you click on her name in the tags section, you’ll how many of her novellas I’ve reviewed here. Love her varied historical eras.

    ReplyReply

  14. Jayne
    Jun 24, 2009 @ 16:05:32

    Moth, maybe you read about it at the Unusual Historicals Blog.

    ReplyReply

  15. Trish
    Jun 25, 2009 @ 15:03:27

    Jayne, I didn’t realize you’d reviewed so many of her books. That ereader is getting bumped up on my tbb list! I’m saving my pennies . . .

    ReplyReply

  16. Jennifer Mueller
    Jun 25, 2009 @ 22:21:44

    Thank you for the nice words!! Even if it is a bit expensive, yes I know. As my first print book even though the contract said hardback I didn’t believe it until the book itself showed up on my door step. I was jumping in the driveway when it got here.

    And it does take place april/ may.

    Trish I do have a contemporary treasure hunt set in Portugal that involves digging up the past of a Napoleanoic era Knight of St. John. Its called Ancient Walls and available at Amazon in print. I also recently found out that History Lessons is coming to print soon, its contemporary but filled with 5 historical stories that the heroine hears as she is in an 800 year old castle in Scotland. Havana Holiday is set for print as well, but haven’t heard a date yet.

    Jayne, I might be persuaded to give a copy away if you wanted to have a contest. just let me know.

    ReplyReply

  17. Jayne
    Jun 26, 2009 @ 05:55:35

    As my first print book even though the contract said hardback I didn't believe it until the book itself showed up on my door step. I was jumping in the driveway when it got here.

    I bet you were! Is the moment captured in pictures so you can relive it whenever you want?

    ReplyReply

  18. Jennifer Mueller
    Jun 26, 2009 @ 06:05:25

    unfortunately I was home alone. :(

    ReplyReply

  19. Jayne
    Jun 26, 2009 @ 06:20:54

    Well, you can still take out a copy and lovingly run your hands over the smooth, shiny surface and hold it up like the models on “Let’s Make a Deal.”

    ReplyReply

  20. Contest, contest, contest! | Dear Author: Romance Novel Reviews, Industry News, and Commentary
    Jun 26, 2009 @ 07:48:32

    [...] And we all love that, right? This is for one copy of Jennifer Mueller’s latest book, “The Ruined Season,” a charming Regency with a non nobleman hero. Yes, Virginia, such books do exist! Just leave [...]

  21. Elaine
    Jun 26, 2009 @ 16:40:11

    I’m so tired of all of the dukes in today’s historicals. I love the idea of a man not from the highest reaches of society. I’ll be looking for this book.

    ReplyReply

  22. Marcy Arbitman
    Jun 26, 2009 @ 18:45:20

    I have always loved Regency novels throughout my erotic romance, contemporary and romantic suspense days. I am very sorry that many publishers no longer wish to publish them.

    ReplyReply

  23. Elizabeth Krentz-Wee
    Jun 27, 2009 @ 07:28:17

    I like the idea of a different kind of outspoken miss. It sounds like Sophie is something beyond the standard “Kiss me, Kate” heroine.

    ReplyReply

  24. Dear Author Intro Interview:  Beverley Eikli, author of Lady Farquhar’s Butterfly | Dear Author
    Jul 07, 2010 @ 04:01:21

    [...] After reading Jayne's review of A Ruined Season, I was interested in other romances published by the same company (Hale Publishing).  Beverley's [...]

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