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