Review – The Rake to Ruin Her by Julia Justiss

The Rake to Ruin Her cover image
Publisher: Harlequin Historical
Publish Date: 19th Feb
How I got this book: ARC from the publisher via Netgalley

Once a rake…

Known as “Magnificent Max,” diplomat Max Ransleigh was famed for his lethal charm until a political betrayal left him exiled from government and his reputation in tatters. He seems a very unlikely savior for a well-bred young lady.

Except that Miss Caroline Denby doesn’t want to be saved…she wants to be ruined! To Caroline, getting married is tantamount to a death sentence, and meeting the rakish Max at a house party seems the answer to her prayers… Surely this rogue won’t hesitate to put his bad reputation to good use?

Ransleigh Rogues

Where these notorious rakes go, scandal always follows…
This blurb came from the author’s website.

I usually enjoy the Harlequin Historical line so when I saw this up for review I made sure I looked at the blurb. I have seen the group of friends or male cousins that have a name or certain reputation before but usually they do not have to deal with disgrace, just marriage-minded mamas and ladies who are looking for an agreeable generous partner. I liked the thought that Max no longer had the safety of his stature in society. Caroline’s circumstances in the blurb were also different enough to really peek my interest. Instead of trying to escape a threatened or arranged marriage she just doesn’t want to get married at all. After read the blurb and seeing differences in the trope I was accustomed to reading I had to request The Rake to Ruin Her. After finishing it I am glad that I did.

Max was very interesting. He was suffering from the ruins of his planned future, his social disgrace, and his father refusing to do anything except condemn him. Luckily he did have his group of friends, the other Ransleigh Rogues, to provide him some support not to mention the military officers he served. I also really enjoyed that with his current disgrace he still retained the internal sense of honor and obligation that he was brought up with. It made his words and actions throughout the book carry added weight. There were a few moments when I had some doubts that Max was going to live up to his promise but he was able to make it through.

Caroline just wanted to run the horse training and breeding business that her father left in trust for her. She was one of the fortunate ones who had a nice stepmother and stepsister who just wanted her to be happy. I also found the tactic that Caroline used to pick out her clothes very amusing. She displayed a lot of planning in her attempts to keep the life she wanted even though she displayed a nice amount of naivety when it came to the actual execution. I also understood her fear about The Curse given all of the examples she had in her family history. I am sure that even if she had been able to arrange the life she planned, her best friend wouldn’t have been as understanding as she expected about The Curse.

I really enjoyed watching the relationship grow between Max and Caroline. Each was set in their ways but they also tried to make their marriage work. Caroline was very staunch in her defense of Max to anyone including Max’s father. She continued to prove that she took her promises to him seriously with their various encounters. Max was also very patient yet determined. I think my heart completely melted in this scene which was about two-thirds through The Rake to Ruin Her.

She angled her chin up and closed her eyes, waiting, a breathless excitement feathering through her veins. Through closed lids she could sense his face descending toward hers, feel the warmth of his breath on her cheek. Anticipation coiled tighter and tighter within her, impatience mounting to at last feel the brush of his mouth against hers.

But after a moment, when he had moved no further, she opened her eyes and looked up at him puzzled.

He was gazing at her intently, the energy emanating from the molten blue of his eyes like the crackle in the air before a lightening strike. “I promised never to take from you, Caro,’ he murmured. ‘To give you only what you desire. So…show me what you want.’

I loved how this book had multiple marriage proposals and how each seemed to signify a new phase in their relationship. I also liked that Max and Caroline dealt with issues from their individual lives prior to their marriage. The resolution wasn’t always what they wanted or expected but it did allow them to continue building their life together without significant regrets or “what-ifs”.

I really enjoyed reading The Rake to Ruin Her and I look forward to seeing what happens to the other three Ransleigh Rogues. Justiss provided a great historical with some unusual characters and situations. They were sweet, caring, stubborn and dedicated to each other. I am really glad that I requested this to review.

I give The Rake to Ruin Her an A-

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