REVIEW: The Ruin of the Rake by Cat Sebastian
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.
Dear Cat Sebastian,
I was intrigued by Simon’s uncle Lord Courtenay when he showed up at the end of last book, but I absolutely adored him by the time I finished this story.
I thought that Courtenay seemed eager to have close relationship with his little nephew Simon again at the end of the second book. I also thought that Lawrence would be okay with that, considering that Lawrence really was a kind man underneath that rough exterior.
Alas as the blurb tells us, somebody wrote a novel which was going around in London high society and the villain was easily recognizable to everybody and supposedly based on Courtenay’s ( he really did prefer his last name and if I had the name Jeremiah, I may have preferred the last name too ) erotic exploits. I kind of could not blame Lawrence for not wanting Simon anywhere near his uncle if the book contained a grain of truth.
Courtenay, however, has at least one good friend in London – Elleanor whom the readers of the series may remember as Lawrence’s friend as well. Elleanor knows that Lawrence is not a monster and as long as his worries about Courtenay’s behavior will disappear he won’t keep Simon away from Courtenay. So she is asking her brother Julian to “rehabilitate” Courtenay so to speak – basically to reenter him in the polite society. Julian is not too eager to do that for several reasons, but agrees for his sister’s sake.
Initially both men do not particularly care for each other. Julian, young as he is, is a skillful businessman and even more skillful at manipulating people. He mostly applies his talents for good causes (as he sees them) but he is also used to keeping himself and his desires under a tight leash or so he thinks.
“How old were you when your grandfather died and you took over? I’ve done the sums in my head but I can’t make you out to have been anything more than a child.” “Sixteen.” “You were a child, then.” Courtenay said, staring at him curiously. Julian felt his breath hitch. “I was never a child!” He hadn’t meant it to sound so vehement, so angry. But he hadn’t had any kind of childhood, not when it was divided between the sickroom and the counting house. Courtenay didn’t look surprised, though. He nodded, as if to indicate that he had guessed as much, or that he commiserated without the need for further elaboration.”
Courtenay really is a nice guy. However, he blames himself for his sister’s death (a.k.a. Simon’s mother.) At some point, he just decides that since society thinks of him in a certain way that he must act that way (as a rake that is.)”
I thought the author did a great job with showing how these two people slowly fall for each other. Oh there is a sexual attraction between them which happens pretty fast. However what I liked the best was watching how their perceptions of each other changed and how both of them kept noticing the best qualities of each other instead of the worst and how all of this lead to them becoming each other’s favorite person.
“Medlock never looked better than when he was telling people what to do. He wasn’t precisely handsome, nor even striking or any of the other adjectives people used to describe men with unconventional looks. No, Medlock was the opposite of striking. He was aggressively neutral. But the way he moved, the way he spoke, the things he said—Courtenay’s heart thumped in his chest whenever he caught a look at the man. He was aware of a growing conviction that Medlock looked precisely the way he wanted a man to look like, whatever that even meant.”
To me this story comes as close as being a perfect romance as they go. This is no small feat considering that more often than not I am tempted by the book full of action and intrigue, where guys are saving the world or investigate mystery, in other worlds where the relationship at least shares the spotlight with action/adventure storyline if not cedes the spotlight to it. In this story “saving the world” may briefly show up as Courtenay realizes that as a member of the rich and privileged class he may have to do more to help the poor in Great Britain, but otherwise the development of the relationship is what the book is about and I really enjoyed it.
I thought the story was relatively low angst and that is something I was perfectly okay with, but beware if you like angstier books. I thought it made perfect sense that even when they argued; they could not stay away from each other when trouble came, but I am curious to see what other readers will think.
I thought sex scenes were great – funny, erotic, sometimes a little awkward. More importantly sex felt like organic part of their love story, not something the author inserted in the book just for the sake of it.
““How did you manage to debauch yourself so completely if you can’t even tell me what you want?” “I have to say, Med—Julian, that most people, when confronted with my naked, tied up, obviously aroused body would have a pretty good idea of what to do with it.” Julian narrowed his eyes. “I think you usually give people what they want. And, because you’re basically a hedonist with a broad range of tastes, you enjoy yourself perfectly well despite never articulating what you actually crave. Is that how things usually work for you? You just sort of drift into these situations and then drift through them?” Courtenay was silent for a moment, as if he had never considered the matter in that light. “Well, yes?”
“There will be no drifting tonight. Now, tell me about what you require for your pleasure.” “I require . . . Oh, kiss me, you maniacal bastard.” Julian crawled up his body and by the time his lips were near Courtenay’s he was smiling too broadly to manage anything like a proper kiss. Instead he pressed his silly, uncooperative mouth to Courtenay’s and then buried his face in Courtenay’s neck. “I’m glad you’re amused,” Courtenay said, but he had been smiling too. “But I still want that kiss.” Julian lifted his head and kissed Courtenay fully, rewarding him for having said what he wanted. He bit Courtenay’s lip, then licked it, then thoroughly tasted Courtenay’s mouth, as if kissing was the point. That was what Courtenay had asked for, and so it was the point.”
Oh and there were kittens too. How could you not like kittens?
““Thank you.” Julian tried not to read too much into the gesture. Sugar syrup in one’s medicine did not constitute a declaration of love, or even a truce. He lifted a feeble hand to pet the sleeping kitten. It was still at the fragile stage of early kittenhood, all bones and fluff. “Do you want me to take the cat away?” “No.” “Good, because the two of you look adorable, and besides, there are two other kittens hiding in the bookcase, waiting for their chance to stake their claim.” Julian squirmed. He knew he didn’t look anything close to adorable.
He was sweaty and disheveled and wearing nothing but one of Standish’s borrowed nightshirts. He could smell himself, which was never a good sign. Courtenay, meanwhile, was reprehensibly handsome in his evening clothes, even after a night of sitting in a sickroom. Julian thought he’d never get used to the stark fact of Courtenay’s beauty. Or, rather, he never would have, in a world where he was given the chance to find out. “The kitten was probably cold,” he said, stroking one of the cat’s impossibly tiny ears. “And I’m the warmest thing in the room. It would be mean-spirited for me to send him away.” Courtenay touched Julian’s brow. “Not as hot as you were when I brought you here. Perhaps you’re recovering?””
Grade : B+