MacGregor, Janna, et. al. The Young and the Ruined: Compromised. [Place of publication not identified]: Annabelle Anders, 2021.
ASIN: B08H7ZF7BF | $4.99 USD | 692 pages | Regency Romance
These members of the peerage are young, beautiful and full of trouble… the sort that might just get a lord or lady ruined. Don’t miss out on this set of six stories of romance, passion and a fair bit of societal difficulties…
Two Ruins Make a Right by Janna MacGregor – Lady Nellwyn ‘Nell’ Whitton and Mr. James Richardson hate each other. A jilting will do that to a betrothed couple, no matter the reason. After eight years, fate steps in when Nell stumbles upon a house party where James will pick a new wife. They must reconcile their past when Nell’s sister and James’ cousin are found in a compromising position. One ruination leads to another. Only this time, will it make it right?
Laird of Longing by Tammy Andresen – Lady Sophia Everclear doesn’t regret fleeing the rake who attempted to trap her into marriage, But perhaps she should not have stowed away on a ship bound for Scotland. The problems? There are too many to count. But the largest, most annoying one is Captain Ewan McLaren. The tall and brawny Scot says exactly what he thinks, and he doesn’t think much of Sophia. Still. He’s all she’s got, and fortunately, for her, his heart is even bigger than his lectures. Which makes her wonder. What else, beside talking, might his mouth be good at?
A Rescued Heart by Meara Platt – Annie Whitcomb often helped out her father in his medical practice in their quiet seaside village, and his worst patient without doubt was Major Peter Croft. His surly disposition and abuse of spirits and opium to ease the pain of his battle injuries left him fit company for no one. Yet, when her father unexpectedly passes away, leaving her destitute and with nowhere to turn, it is Peter who comes to her with a startling proposition… marry him.
How to Avoid a Scandal (Or Not) by Merry Farmer – Lady Diana Pickwick has hated John Darrow, Lord Whitlock for years, so why can’t she seem to stay away from him? John has had his eye on Diana from the moment they met, and baiting her has been so much fun. But when they are accidentally caught in a compromising position and forced to marry, their games are over. Or have they just begun?
Trapped with the Duke by Annabelle Anders – Miss Collette Jones, as the illegitimate daughter of a baron, is determined to become a respectable teacher. The Duke of Bedwell isn’t interested in respectable teachers. He’s interested in being proper, honorable, and fulfilling his duties to his title. So what is Bedwell to do when honor demands he show more than a little interest in one particular respectable teacher? Why, marry the chit, that’s what.
A Captivating Compromise by Tabetha Waite – Younger brothers have become a bane to Miss Garnett Younghusband’s existence. As she travels out one night to drag them back from Vauxhall before they destroy the family soap business, she finds that she is the one compromised at the hands of the infamous Lord Rafe Pembroke! Can anything good come from such a brief torrid affair?
I received an ARC from Janna MacGregor as part of her street team and am voluntarily posting a review. All opinions are my own.
While I’ve often been burned by a new-to-me historical author of late, especially when they write tropes I dislike, I will do what I can to support the authors who’ve earned my trust. So, in spite of not having read a number of the authors in this collection before, I was eager to support Janna MacGregor and Tabetha Waite, so I was willing to keep an open mind, even if the blurbs of a couple stories already raised concerns.
Janna MacGregor’s contribution, “Two Ruins Make a Right” felt a bit busy, with that one really embracing the soapy love triangles of The Young and the Restless, which provided inspiration for the anthology concept. I felt at times that the other couple stole page time that could have been better spent fleshing out James and Nell, especially given it was so short. And this is something that will clearly be a selling point for everyone but me, but I’m going to say it: they had sex, but I just didn’t feel like there was anything substantial between them, which I needed to believe in the relationship. I would love to see this one fleshed out into something longer, or a companion piece for the other couple, since they did divert so much attention.
“They had sex, but I didn’t feel it was love” was a problem I had with “Laird of Longing” by Tammy Andresen. The story felt a bit more focused, since it was just the one couple, but I just didn’t feel anything for them.
“A Rescued Heart” by Meara Platt is the gem of this collection. Characters with a long acquaintance and platonic affection have always appealed to me as a great basis for a novella, and I really felt that with Annie and Peter. Their relationship felt realistic, starting off with practical concerns and then focusing on their developing feelings.
These next two troubled me to the point where I couldn’t get beyond the first chapter of either, and it’s all down to the heroes. I know, I should have continued to see if it got better, but I feel like there’s lines you shouldn’t cross. Merry Farmer’s is slightly less troubling, but not much. Basically, an adult man is teasing the object of his affection because he likes her. Um, that’s not romantic, and I don’t blame Diana for not liking him and don’t know if there’s anything he could do to ease my mind after that.
As for Annabelle Anders’ contribution…it just exemplifies my aversion to most Dukes. His High-and -Mightiness doesn’t think this girls’ school is good enough for his sister, but while he’s there, he’s ogling the teacher. Ew. I know it’s a historical, but you’re writing for a modern audience of largely women in the age of MeToo, who more recently has dealt with some particularly shocking events that have reinforced their lack of safety in public spaces. I can understand if people can forget about that when they escape into a historical romance, but I cannot.
After the double dose of shock, “A Captivating Compromise” by Tabetha Waite is a nice respite. The quirky names, like Garnett Younghusband, are an immediate attention-grabber, and while I felt the romance took a bit to get going, compared to the others, I liked this one and how romance bloomed from being compromised, which is not always the easiest thing to pull off.
I can’t say I’m too surprised at the outcome being more lukewarm, with the ones I expected to like being the ones I did and the ones I knew I would have issues with not giving me enough early on to think it would be worth investing in. But there was at least one hidden gem I found by an author I had not tried before. Either way, definitely take my opinions with a massive grain of salt. If you love the fantasy of a sexy alpha Duke, an accidental abduction, or the trope of the guy who can only seem to communicate their affection through teasing, then at least one or all of the stories will capture your fancy. And if you’re like me, and one of the ones I liked (even with caveats) worked, then there’s something for you too. That’s always the beauty of an anthology: there’s something for everyone.
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