Larkin, Emily. Ruining Miss Wrotham. [Place of publication not identified]: Emily Larkin, 2017. ISBN-13: 9780994144379. $12.99 USD.
Emily Larkin once again writes a great story full of magic, humor, drama, and romance. And while there are some flaws in characterization, I found the story as a whole engaging and charming with some great plot twists.
Mordecai is a wonderful hero, showing that his reputation is not always as bad as society paints it, but also that he really doesn’t care what they expect of him, given the circumstances of his birth and upbringing. I love the study of contrasts between him and his legitimate cousin, Roger, in terms of their attitudes toward sex: while Roger pursues sex indiscriminately with “women of a lower class,” even accosting his own servants, Mordecai looks for partners with whom he can find companionship with beyond what goes on in the bedroom.
And this is definitely the case with his relationship with Nell, although for much of the book, I struggled to see what he saw in her, given how dim she was, even in comparison to Letty, the heroine of the last full-length book in this series, Trusting Miss Trentham. While we can argue that Letty’s shortcomings come more from her sexual naivete which was common in the upbringing of young women during the Regency, Nell’s ignorance goes beyond that. She chafes at being “treated like a child” by the hero because she’s dealt with domineering people all her life, even when he tries to protect her. I know women in this time period often would not have awareness of what the outside world was like, but surely they would be told what might befall them?! I found it especially annoying that after she started softening to him and they began compromising, with them having an arrangement that she would be his mistress (which he intends as a means to seduce her into marriage, and she thinks, rather ignorantly is just something she can do because, well, she’s already ruined because of what her sister did), she then began to reconsider her feelings because he told her to get to safety in what was an obviously dangerous situation.
My feelings did soften toward her when they first began to deal with Mordecai coming to grips with the “gift” thing that runs in her family (complete with reappearances from characters from previous books) and we finally found out what happened to the sister she was looking for, showing that not all stories have the happiest of endings, but there is always a ray of hope, which is what brings them back together.