Review: The Earl I Ruined by Scarlett Peckham

Reviewed by Caitlin

Lady Constance Stonewell has all of Society eating out of the palm of her hand, and she makes it look effortless.

She’s a scandal, her clothes are intricately made and enormous (it is the 18th century after all), and her dowry is immense. She’s bright and lively and witty. And she’s the sister of a duke.

It’s no wonder Julian Haywood, the Earl of Apthorp, is in love with her. The problem? She confuses his propriety with a boring personality. When she learns something about his sexual tastes, she jumps to the wrong conclusions and accidentally gets his proclivities published in the scandal sheets.

The bill he had worked tirelessly on, that was supposed to help his tenants and finally drag himself out of debt, is all but doomed thanks to the tireless moralizing of one of the most powerful men in Parliament. Constance, feeling guilty, offers a fake engagement to get him back in everyone’s good graces so the bill can pass and he can be financially in the black again. Yes, she’ll be ruined, but she’s never cared about that. She already has plans for a villa in Italy when she breaks off the engagement.

This is Peckham’s second book in the Charlotte Street series (the first deals with Constance’s brother and is also very, very good) and her second book overall. I think she might already be an auto-buy for me. I’m already anxiously awaiting the third book in the series.

Oh man, I love a fake engagement. And I love a hero pining after a heroine for years. I love a man who feels the need to prove his worth to the woman he loves.

And I love a Dom.

So Julian checks off a lot of qualities for me, and Constance is that rare heroine who manages to be both shallow and incredibly cunning. Who loves fashion and silly Society rules and also cares deeply about the people in her life. She is one of the most complicated and beautifully-drawn characters I’ve read – maybe ever.

There are secrets and complications that could be solved with better communication, but the lack of communication reads as true to life rather than a stupid plot contrivance. Julian and Constance have excellent chemistry together but are also such wonderful characters separately. The reveals are surprising and well done (Who is Julian’s ward in relation to him? What happened with Constance and Lord Harlan Stoke at that party in Devon?) and the pace keeps the reader flipping quickly throughout.

I had the pleasure of reading this book out loud to my boyfriend as he recovered from an eye injury. He tends toward historical nonfiction, but he loved this book. He is now convinced romance is going to save the world. And hey, if all books were as good as this one, he’d be right.

He might be right away.

If you like intrigue, humor (this book is hilarious), fake engagements, and a couple realizing just how right they are for each other in the midst of so much scheming, I definitely recommend The Earl I Ruined.

Rating: A

Click to purchase: Amazon

The Earl I Ruined
by Scarlett Peckham
Release Date: December 11, 2018

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