Review – Rumors that Ruined a Lady by Marguerite Kaye

Rumors That Ruined a Lady cover image
Publisher: Harlequin
Publish Date: Out now
How I got this book: ARC from the publisher via Netgalley

London, 1830


Amongst the gossip-hungry ton, no name has become more synonymous with sin than that of Lady Caroline Rider, cast out by her husband and disowned by her family. Rumor has it that the infamous “Caro” is now seeking oblivion in the opium dens of London!

There’s only one man who can save her—notorious rake Sebastian Conway, Marquis of Ardhallow. Soon Caro is installed in his country home, warming his bed, but their passion may not be enough to protect them once news of their scandalous arrangement breaks out….
This blurb came from the author’s website.

It has been a while since I have read a historical by Kaye so when I found this up for review I decided to give it a try. I typically read the Author’s Note, Letter from the Editor, and the dedication that the author or editor includes because it seems to get me in the mood for the story. I found the Author’s Note for this one to be very interesting and focused my attention looking for some of the things Kaye mentioned. I also learned this was part of a series, which I missed when I selected it. I have to admit that I have very mixed feelings about this story because on one hand, the heroine did things I really don’t agree with but on the other hand Kaye was able to make me believe in Caro and her situation.

The story started off with a rather dramatic scene and then proceeded to alternate between significant events in the past that led to the opening scene and events that occurred after that opening scene. I found the flashbacks were very distinct so it was easy to tell the difference between past and present. The scenes in the past were just that, scenes, but they allowed me to get a feeling for who Caro was and a sense of how she ended up in her current position. Let me just say that I am very glad I am not bound by the same particular rules of society that Caro and Sebastian faced. Towards the end of the book I was very glad to see some of the same joy of life return to Caro that she had during a few of the earlier flashbacks.

Sebastian wasn’t without his own issues. He spent most of his life as a disappointment to his father. Not on purpose at first but after a while he started to live up or down to expectations. This reached the point so that even when he was on “his best behavior,” it was only so he could lull the suspicious and then proceed to flaunt society’s rules. As the story starts, he has replaced his dead father as the Marquise of Ardhallow and due to their enmity, the only things he focused on were things his father didn’t seem to value. Yet, unlike any other society man, he rescued Caro, encouraged her to find her strength, and even tried to help her mend some of her fences.

I have to include some spoilers for this book to explain my mixed reaction. [spoiler]Caro was married to someone other than Sebastian for the entire book. She had separated from her husband, was disowned and kicked out by her father because her husband spread the rumor that she was cheating on him. Caro left because she was finally fed up with her husband’s constant mental, verbal, and physical abuse. She was innocent of sleeping with the particular man her husband said she did but she had slept with someone else during their marriage.[/spoiler]

I enjoyed watching Caro and Sebastian come to the realization that they were in love. I also liked watching them decide to face and then deal with the issues of their past. I could also understand a certain choice that was made towards the end of the story given their circumstances and the lesson that Sebastian learns. However, what they did during the middle of the story I had some issues with. Their actions pushed one of my DNF buttons. Having said that, Kaye managed to do such a great job setting up the characters that I was fully invested in my hopes for happiness that I didn’t stop reading. I guess this goes to show that I should stop saying I will never read x, y, or z because sometimes a book comes along that proves me wrong.

As I said in the beginning, this book left me with mixed feelings. I really enjoyed certain aspects and yet I had a hard time accepting other aspects. Caro and Sebastian were likeable, if flawed, characters. It was interesting to see how the pressures of society contributed to those flaws and actions that neither character would normally have taken. I was particularly glad to see that Kaye made the exposure of those flaws cost something but I also felt bad for the suffering that her characters experienced. As Kaye discussed in her Author’s Note, this story had a much darker tone than the others I have read by her.
I give Rumors that Ruined a Lady a B-

3 thoughts on “Review – Rumors that Ruined a Lady by Marguerite Kaye”

  1. Thank you for this very thoughtful review, all the more so because my story covers a subject-matter that would have been a DNF for you.

    It’s a difficult subject and not one that I chose without reservations, as I hope my author and historical notes made clear, but it was one that I felt and still do feel very strongly about. The law was incredibly unfair to women. It’s not perfect now, far from it, but seeing how far we’ve come for me, at least, helps give a sense of perspective. I’ve just finished Mrs Robinson’s Disgrace by Kate Summerscale, which is a factual account of a Victorian divorce case which ended unhappily for everyone involved. The Victorian attitudes to women were, if anything, worse than those during the Regency. While marriage was seen by this time as more of a moral than a commercial contract, it meant that the position of the wife as subserviant to her husband regardless of almost any behaviour, became entrenched in society. There were times, when I was reading this, that my blood was boiling.

    I wanted to write about the divorce law, so my heroine had to be married to someone else. That’s problematic, both morally and from a plot point of view – I confess, I was very tempted to kill off my heroine’s husband as you suggested, just to resolve both. But that wouldn’t have made my point about the injustice of the law, so I took the risk, knowing that there would be some readers for whom this was a step too far. So it’s all the more rewarding when one of those readers is willing to carry on reading.

    This is a long-winded way of saying thank you.

  2. Pingback: Review – Unwed and Unrepentant (Armstrong Sisters #5) by Marguerite Kaye | The Book Pushers | Book Reviews | Book Chatter

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