Early Review: A Lady’s Guide to Ruin by Kathleen Kimmel

A Lady's Guide to RuinA Lady’s Guide to Ruin by Kathleen Kimmel
Book #1 in Birch Hall Romance

Genre: Historical Romance
Publication Date: December 1st, 2015
ARC Provided by Netgalley and Penguin

Synopsis from Goodreads: Joan Price is a wanted woman. A thief and a fugitive from the mental hospital where she was falsely committed, she’s now on the run from her former partners in crime. But luck must be on her side—just when it seems all is doomed, she runs straight into the arms of Martin Hargrove, Earl of Fenbrook, who mistakes her for his distant cousin, Daphne.

Lord Fenbrook has no intention of marrying, and certainly doesn’t consider his notoriously scatterbrained cousin a prospect. But her flighty persona seems to hide something far more intriguing—a secret self she trusts with no one. And Martin is determined to earn that trust…

When Martin’s sister discovers Joan’s charade, they strike a bargain: Joan can remain within the safe walls of Birch Hall, as long as she doesn’t allow Martin to fall in love with her—for their flirtation would surely ruin them both. She’s convinced she poses no threat to his heart, but she’s beginning to realize that her heart may be the one in danger. Especially as he seems very set on seducing her

Angie’s Review – 3.5 Skulls – B-

I think the best way to describe A Lady’s Guide to Ruin would be eccentric. The characters weren’t necessarily eccentric, but the story was. Eccentric and awkward in an interesting kind of way. We’re introduced to our heroine, Joan, after she’s escaped from bedlam – pilfered diamonds in hand – and not quite sure what her next move is. Miraculously, a case of mistaken identity falls into her lap, and away we go!

After a life of scheming, Joan finally botches one and in an effort to save her (and himself) from the gallows, her brother, Moses claims she’s insane. She’s promptly deposited into bedlam, leaving Moses in the clear. Joan has had a hard go of it, and it’s clear she has a hard time trusting or accepting that anyone can care about her. But she is feisty and innovative, and Joan doesn’t leave anyone to fend for themselves. Martin wasn’t your typical historical romance hero. He wasn’t incredibly experienced when it came to women, and he wasn’t tied to his fortune or title. He was incredibly kind and attentive to his sister, if a bit smothering. He was a very caring man, and that carried over to Joan while she was in his care under the mistaken identity of his cousin Daphne.

Joan and Martin’s sister, Elinor, found themselves in enough scrapes to keep this story entertaining, and Joan’s brother and accomplice pursuing her added a light element of suspense to the story, but I did have a few issues. The falling in love part happened rather quickly, and to be honest, it felt like it came out of nowhere. There was no build up here. I was also a bit thrown as to why Martin wasn’t more curious when Joan seemed to be experienced in the foreplay department during their first intimate encounter. I actually liked that twist, that she was the more experienced one; I just wish Martin had asked more questions as to why. The ending felt rushed to me, leaving some emotional issues between the characters unresolved. I liked parts of it, particularly when Daphne and Joan finally come face to face. But there was too much of a time lapse from when Martin and Joan went their separate ways to their reconciliation. Now having said all that, I think the good outweighed the bad with this one. I liked it enough that I was able to sweep the ‘too fast falling in love factor’ under the rug and go from there. Joan and Martin weren’t easy characters to connect with, but it worked with this sort of story. Joan was very stand-offish, and I think the author did a good job of keeping her stand-offish even when we were seeing things through her point of view. Kudos for that, because that’s a really hard thing to do! And the same with Martin; he was very closed off, and I think the author was able to maintain an aura of mystery even while revealing his character to the reader.

Overall, I found A Lady’s Guide to Ruin to be unique and intriguing with some surprises along the way. It was a nice debut, and I’m excited to read more from this author!

Rating: ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  ☠  + ½

Series Reading Order:
1. A Lady’s Guide to Ruin
2. A Gentleman’s Guide to Scandal (Expected Publication: June 7th, 2016)

Thank you to PENGUIN and Netgalley for providing a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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