Series: The Turners #3
Published by Avon Impulse on 4th July 2017
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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.
I came into this following the stellar reviews of friends but grew more and more bewildered at my own non-reaction to the story as it wore on.
Cat Sebastian is a new author to me, but objectively speaking, ‘The Ruin of a Rake’ is well-written, nuanced, well-paced and interesting in that it deals with homosexuality in a historical setting where anything due east of very rigid, structured and homophobic behaviour norms is considered transgressive. Sebastian keeps it realistic—or as realistic as it can get in Regency England and those historical research points definitely kept me going.
What got me down, surprisingly, was the characters. I didn’t feel so much at all—not excited, not anxious, not itching for the first kiss—especially with the interactions between Julian Medlock and Courtenay, both of whom felt unlikeable from the start. Forced to spend time together, Medlock and Courtenay eventually found their footing together, which eventually led to thoughts of love and a vague future together away from the prying, nosy ton.
But if Courtenay was the smarmy, irksome, libertine manwhore (and this fact keeps getting repeated, yes), Medlock was as oddly stoic as he was mathematically/organisationally brilliant, their attraction to each other a painful thing to watch at times…and well, not as believable as I thought it could have been. So much of this felt like I was reading about their relationship from a distance despite the explicit scenes and the lengthy monologues of them reasoning out their own feelings, and what lacked (in my opinion at least) was that deep sense of yearning, vulnerability and some self-awareness that I usually expect my protagonists to have developed way before the end of the story.
I ended up skimming a lot, until I realised I wasn’t quite supposed to do that, especially if it’s supposed to be a book I was looking forward to reading and to liking, in fact. Only towards the end did I resign myself to the idea that this just didn’t work out for me.