Ruan Bettancourt, the Duke of Cynssyr, intends to marry London's most beautiful debutante. A case of mistaken identity forces him to marry her sister, spinster Anne Sinclair. Before long, he's head-over-heels in love with his wife while Anne is determined to make the best of her unwanted marriage. Can Lord Ruin convince Anne he's fallen in love?
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I have a soft spot for this book, even though I the pacing is sometimes a little off, and I think the mystery element to the story detracts from the development of the romance.
Ruan Bettencourt, Duke of Cynssyr is a playboy and serial heart-breaker. But even a man such as he must eventually take a wife, and he has his sights set on the beautiful Emily Sinclair. Her eldest sister, Anne, is determined to prevent "Lord Ruin" from marrying her sister, and does so in spectacular fashion, ably assisted by the man himself.
Having compromised Anne irretrievably, she and Ruan are forced to marry - but to his surprise, Ruan finds himself strangely content with the idea. He quickly discovers that Anne suits him both in bed (and boy, does he discover it! I think the couple does the deed on just about every available flat surface) and out; she is level-headed, intelligent and perceptive, just the sort of wife to suit a man such as he, who is actively involved in government and takes his duties as a peer of the realm very seriously.
Anne finds her opinion of her new husband undergoing a rapid reassessment. Having believed him to be nothing but a dissolute womaniser, she is surprised to discover that he is in fact a man of honour who does not shirk his responsibilities, and, as the book progresses, one who is still haunted by his military past.
I enjoy stories which feature a "compromised into marriage" plot, and this aspect of the story is very well done. Anne has many deep-seated insecurities which cause her to do her best to remain aloof from her husband, but she is so busy trying not to fall in love with him that she fails to notice that he's utterly besotted with her. And Ruan finds communication on a personal level difficult, tending to prefer a good bout between the sheets instead - so the couple has enough problems to work through without the addition of the mystery sub-plot which sees Ruan and his friends on the trail of a serial killer.
But here's the reason for the dreadful pun in the title of this review. The narration, while not the worst I've ever heard, leaves very much to be desired.
Ms McDermott seems to be new to the business of romance narration, and while she differentiates well between characters and finds a good "hero" voice, the pacing is slow, with lots of long pauses between words and phrases; and her British accent (she's American) slips quite often. There are also a number of howling mispronunciations - she pronounces Vauxhall as "Voh-hall" and there's a discussion of prostitutes in which they are called "Cypriots" instead of "Cyprians".
I think I'll be sticking to the print version of this book, and the follow ups that Ms Jewel is writing if she's planning on using the same narrator.