Ruined by Moonlight by Emma Wildes
published by New American Library in September 2012
What is society to do when the diamonds of the first water are caught in compromising situations, one after the other? Can the young ladies survive the season with their reputations intact... or will the scandalous whispers surrounding them bring about the ultimate ruination?Genre: Historical romance
When Lady Elena Morrow, the reigning belle of the ton, suddenly disappears, her family is desperate to find her—and to keep the story from spreading through London society like wildfire, before her reputation is ruined. Unfortunately, it may be impossible to avoid a scandal. Viscount Andrews, better known as the Raven, London’s most notorious rake, has gone missing at exactly the same moment.
Benjamin Wallace, Lord Heathton, is more accustomed to untangling political difficulties, rather than those of the heart. But when he is pressured to help find Lady Elena, he can’t refuse—the distraught father is also his wife’s uncle. Now he must find the beautiful debutante before the connection to Andrews does away with her innocence—assuming the vulnerable young lady wants to be found...
Series: Whispers of Scandal, Book #1
The Story: Ruined by Moonlight is about two couples. The first is Lady Elena Morrow and Randolph Raine, Viscount Andrews, also known as the Raven. The two of them were kidnapped and found themselves locked up in a tower with little amount of clothes on. After insuring that neither had anything to do with the situation, Elena and Ran pull their efforts together to try and figure out why they were kidnapped and thrown together and find an escape. Ideally, it should be done before the ton realizes that Elena and Ran - one being the reigning belle of the Season and the other, a notorious rake, and therefore under the ton's scrutiny - have disappeared at the same time and rumors start flying, ruining Elena's reputation... and possibly her recent engagement with Lord Colbert, who while doesn't make her heart flutters has the approval of her father. But can two attractive persons be in such close proximity under such circumstances without developing feelings for each other?
The other couple featured in Ruined by Moonlight is Benjamin Wallace, Earl of Heathton, and his wife Alicia. Lord Heathton has recently married the lady of his choosing for duty, figuring that Alicia, with her impeccable background and poise, would make him a perfect countess. However, what Alicia wants is marriage and all the intimacy it entails instead of separate lifestyles that interconnect from time to time which is what her husband seems to have planned. As a result, she has issued an ultimatum to her husband: the suspension of his conjugal rights until they know each other better. While it rankles, Lord Heathton grudgingly conforms... And therefore, when Alicia's uncle, Lord Whitbridge, comes to Lord Heathton to ask him to discreetly investigate his daughter's, Elena, disappearance, Lord Heathton accepts figuring it'd mark points with Alicia.
My Opinion: I've really been looking forward to Ms Wildes' new release, Ruined by Moonlight :) Seriously, nine months between releases is much too long. However, I gotta say the wait was worth it! I often bemoaned on my blog how I haven't clicked with certain popular authors such as Jill Shalvis, Tessa Dare, etc., to my greatest dismay :( Well with Ms Wildes, it's the opposite. She and I clicked right from the start and I have enjoyed and adore pretty much everything I have read by her. I don't know what it is about her writing and stories, but they work for me and Ruined by Moonlight was no exception :)
Back in January, I read the excerpt of Ruined by Moonlight at the end of Twice Fallen and just that bit had me hooked! I knew I would enjoy Ruined by Moonlight and a lot of it has to do with Elena and Ran's story, the two of them being kidnapped and discovering they've been locked up together. Yes, there is something unbelievable about it and unfortunately Ms Wildes doesn't completely pull it off when it comes to the "who" and "why," but still, it made for an interesting and refreshing premises. I liked that under ordinary circumstances, these two would never cross path as Ran has a tendency of avoiding debutantes and innocents, but thrown in together, there's an irresistible temptation and they both succumb. I really enjoyed how the friendship and romance develop between Elena and Ran, how the intimacy builds up... and given their situation, it's believable. Ran is handsome, cares about his family, has wealth and is a gentleman, LOL, to a certain extent... and Elena is pretty, but more importantly clever. These two obviously suit each other and make a good couple together. So the romance worked for me and I liked that Ran was not an idiot and fought for Elena. I also liked that he didn't propose to Elena out of obligation, out of circumstances, but really felt something for her. I also have to say I liked that Elena was active in their escape, that she wasn't a delicate flower waiting for Ran to come up with a plan and relying on him. No, Elena was independent and quite poised and she made for an interesting heroine :)
I also very much enjoyed Benjamin and Alicia's storyline. This is not the first time Ms Wildes explores this trope where the couple is married, but the wife wants more. It's one of my favorites and Ms Wildes executes it very well and once again, she pulls it off in Ruined by Moonlight. It's just a trope that makes sense to me. The lady marries a good man, why wouldn't she want more from him? Why shouldn't she expect more from him? And she takes the necessary steps to ensure that she gets it, that there is love in their marriage. I liked that Ms Wildes showed how hard it was for Alicia to take the reins and demand something of her husband. I think it showed us strength and how brave Alicia was, as well as how hopeful and determined she was about her marriage. At the same time, she didn't go overboard, imagining up plots to make her husband pay attention to her. I liked that she was honest and communicate with him. Benjamin being huffy at Alicia's ultimatum - I don't know any men that like them, LOL - was expected, but what wasn't was the fact he was honest with himself, admitting to himself that something about the arrangement didn't suit him, didn't feel right. It made Benjamin interesting and I liked the efforts he made to conform to Alicia's ultimatum. I enjoyed reading about Benjamin and Alicia discovering each other and really falling in love, it was sweet :) These men are not raised to believe in love, but there's something good about them discovering it :) Also, I have to add that I enjoyed the interactions between Elena's father and Benjamin. It was really interesting to see a pompous, older man share his inner feelings, his love for his daughter... Something that Benjamin obviously never expected to hear from him... and it provided Benjamin with perspectives. As a whole, I think that Elena's father was really a good addition to the story. He brought a different and refreshing point of view.
My main complaint about Ruined by Moonlight is that I felt the novel unraveled a little at the end when it came to the "who" and "why" Elena and Ran were kidnapped. As I mentioned earlier, it's a bit of an unbelievable tale and as a result, Ms Wildes really need to have a solid explanation to pull it off... And I felt she didn't. The motives, at most, are acceptable... but the "who" is still unknown. Perhaps it's going to be uncovered as the series progresses, but it's still a bit weird. Also, in Ruined by Moonlight, I felt both couples had equal amount of pages... It's not such a bad thing, but at the same time, I think Elena and Ran's story could have been fleshed a bit more, more rounded and solid. Perhaps if Ms Wildes could have provided a "who," the storyline would have felt more completed. And one last thing is an error that slipped through editing about how Ran's parents died. Their death was mentioned twice in the book, but in each instance, the cause was different ^_^; At first, I thought I misread it, but alas no. Although it's not too important since it doesn't impact the story at all. It just stands out though ^_^;
When I picked up Ruined by Moonlight, I was taken by surprise that this book was the start of a new series. I was a bit disappointed because I thought there were more stories to be told in The Ladies in Waiting series... but after reading Ruined by Moonlight and the excerpt of the next book, A Most Improper Rumor, I'm actually glad for this new series, Whispers of Scandal. It's interesting, original and I liked that the connecting element between the books is going to be Lord Heathton's investigation :) I definitively hope we'll get to read more about Benjamin and Alicia's marriage.
My Grade: B+. Ruined by Moonlight definitively had some flaws in the story, but I really, really enjoyed it :) Perhaps it's the fact that Ms Wildes and I click LOL. All I can say is it rejuvenated my love of Ms Wildes' writing and that now, I'm anxiously waiting for the next book, A Most Improper Rumor :)