The Debutante Files #2
Source: eARC from publisher for review
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Sophie Jordan continues her new series, The Debutante Files, featuring debutantes on the hunt for Mr. Right.
First friends, then enemies...
Lady Aurelia hasn’t always hated Max, Viscount Camden, her brother’s best friend. In fact, as a besotted girl, she thrived under his kind attention—sure that he was the most noble and handsome man in the land. Until her young heart discovered what manner of rogue he really was. Now, though she enjoys nothing more than getting on his last nerve, she can’t deny Max drives her to distraction—even if she tries to pretend otherwise.
Now something more...
Max cannot recall a time when Aurelia did not vex him. If she was not his friend’s sister, he would stay far away from the infuriating vixen. Unfortunately, they are always thrown together. At parties and family gatherings…she is always there. Mocking him, tossing punch in his face, driving him mad ... until one night, she goes too far and he retaliates in the only way he can: with a kiss that changes everything.
All the Ways to Ruin a Rogue gives us a romance that's deliciously tense on a number of levels, Aurelia and Max not just a combination of little sister and big brother's best friend, but also enemies of sorts as inadvertent actions in their teen years brought their previous friendship to an abrupt halt. We're privy to the series of events that lead to the dissolution of their friendship (and Aurelia's crush on Max), our hearts reaching out to both of them as hurt and betrayal cut deep on both sides. We then catch up with them several years later, the pain they caused each other as teenagers having festered to the point that their wounds remain open, barely able to be in the other's company without poking at the sore spots they know so well. It's nearly impossible not to get caught up in the storm constantly raging between them, reading with a smile on our faces as we wait to see the tide of that storm slowly change into something more.
We meet Aurelia as a young woman of fifteen, having developed a crush on her brother's best friend at the tender age of nine and finally deciding it's time to make her feelings known. When she catches him in a compromising position, our hearts plummet right along with hers, recalling every moment in our own lives when a crush seemed larger than life and solely responsible for our entire happiness. Years later, she handles the barbs Max hurls at her as he attempts to keep their vicious cycle of anger and pain going with as much grace as she can muster, slowly attempting to change their interactions by not giving him the response he expects. She of course lashes out a time or two and makes things worse between them, but it's hard to wish for her to suffer in silence simply because that way lies the higher road, and quite frankly Max deserves what she dishes out on a number of occasions.
Max, for his part, is crueler in his verbal sparring than Aurelia, and while we might give her the favor of our female solidarity, his own hurt stemming from the aftermath of that disastrous day years ago is more than a little understandable. He also has a fear of love and marriage thanks to the tragic death of his parents, making his desire for Aurelia an epic internal battle between what he wants and what he thinks he isn't capable of. Though he takes far more than he gives emotionally for majority of the book, the two of them and their painful, stumbling dance to happily ever after is nothing short of enthralling, gluing us to the pages as we wait and see who will either deliver the next blow or make the next move toward intimacy.
The only very minor complaint with this story is the speed at which Max's views on marriage, love and children change in the concluding chapters, a sudden epiphany wrapping things up for the two of them with a pretty bow. That being said however, a happy ending is what we want most for these two, so Max's sudden change of heart is something easily overlooked. Overall, All the Ways to Ruin a Rogue is a hugely enjoyable historical romance, blending moments of heartache with moments of pure joy to ensure we immediately visit Ms. Jordan's website upon finishing to gorge ourselves on her backlist.
Find All the Ways to Ruin a Rogue:
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Sophie Jordan grew up in the Texas hill country where she wove fantasies of dragons, warriors, and princesses. A former high school English teacher, she’s the New York Times, USA Today and international bestselling author of more than twenty novels. She now lives in Houston with her family. When she’s not writing, she spends her time overloading on caffeine (lattes preferred), talking plotlines with anyone who will listen (including her kids), and cramming her DVR with anything that has a happily ever after. You can visit her online at www.sophiejordan.net.
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