A Study in Scoundrels
2, Romancing the Rules
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Sophia Ruthven is the epitome of proper behavior. On paper at least, as long as that paper isn’t from one of the lady detective stories she secretly pens. She certainly isn’t interested in associating with the dashing Jasper Grey, the wayward heir to the Earl of Stanhope, and one of the stage’s leading men. But when she learns Grey’s younger sister Liddy has gone missing, she can’t deny her desire to solve the mystery…or her attraction to the incorrigible scoundrel.
Responsibility isn’t something Grey is very familiar with. On the boards and in the bedroom, he lives exactly how he wants to, shunning all the trappings of respectability and society. Grey knows he should avoid the bewitching Sophia, but he’s never been able to say no to what he wants. And having Sophia in his arms and his bed is quickly becoming the thing he wants the most.
As Sophia and Grey’s search for Liddy continues across the English countryside, can this scoundrel convince a proper lady that he’s actually perfect for her or will their adventure leave them both heartbroken?
a story that is hard to put down, and leaves you wishing for more.
Jasper Grey has shrugged off the responsibilities of his birth, and most of the proper behavior expected from a man in Victorian society: working as an actor when he’ not out living the life of an unrepentant scoundrel with drink, damsels and debauchery. Blessed with good looks, charm and a glib tongue, he’s not interested in assuming the mantle of ‘proper gentleman’ and his two day celebration of his most recent birthday was full of all he loved, including drink. But his responsibilities appear when he’s least prepared: hung over, still in recovery mode, he discovers his seventeen year old sister Liddy is missing, and presumed to be with a man. This could ruin her should word escape, so he must discover her whereabouts, return her home, and bury the incident.
Sophia Ruthven is the sister of Kit, whom we met in Rules for a Rogue. She’s the epitome of the family’s tome: Ruthven Rules of Etiquette, at least at first glance. But Sophia is far more complex than anyone would suspect. At twenty-six, she is firmly on the shelf mostly due to the family circumstances, for she is strikingly pretty, well-mannered, educated in the proper behaviors for a woman, and scandal free. Yet, she yearns for more. A huge mystery fan, she’s currently penning her own story, the first in a lady detective series. When she hears of Liddy’s disappearance at a tea she has been invited to, she instantly knows that she can use her not inconsiderable detecting skills to help find the girl. Three’s just one problem. Jasper Grey. While she wants romance and marriage, the drunken and debauched son of a Lord is hardly the perfect option.
Quickly Carlyle establishes the characters and setting, and we are off on a vivacious and very entertaining Victorian adventure. A touch madcap, with plenty of tension and attraction between the two as they try to discover the whereabouts of the missing Liddy. While on first glance, Sophia would appear to be rather proper and the epitome of a miss of the time, as Jasper believes, her depth and intelligence soon show him just how wrong he was. And fortunately, although Jasper uses his reputation (one he earned, mind) to keep her on her toes, their friendship moves from convenient for the purpose to true regard and honest feelings. Both uncover hidden (to the general public) depths and dreams, share laughter and frustrations, and proceed in ways that highlight both their beautiful development as characters and the often conflicting influences of society, the changing times, and their own reservations. From the moment where everything changes and the two just “click” as a couple, to the banter, stolen kisses and perfectly timed moments of pure joy contrasting with self-doubts and reservations, the characters, the plot and the pacing blend with just the right amounts of tension, a search and a mystery to make this a story that is hard to put down, and leaves you wishing for more.
I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.