Reader Recommendation: Erin Knightley’s Ruined by a Rake

Book Ruined by a Rake I received a few email messages recommending specific books and novellas, and I wanted to share them with you today. It's Reader Recommendation Week over here! 

This is from Heather S, who agreed to let me publish her glowing praise of Erin Knightley's Ruined By a Rake:

 Ruined by a Rake by Erin Knightley. This novella felt like a full-length novel – in the best ways possible. Eleanor Abbington is an awesome heroine — she's smart, spunky, and she fences (in secret, of course). What's not to love?

Eleanor's uncle, Robert Malcolm, is a villainous scumbag who demands that, at 24, Eleanor end her chosen life of spinsterhood and get married to one of the three men he's selected, or he'll force her 17-year-old sister to marry instead. Our hero Nicolas Norton is two years younger and her step-cousin. When he returns from the militia after two years away, sparks begin to fly. I honestly adored Nicolas – he was everything I love in a romance hero: smart, strong, caring, tender, and willing to figuratively throw himself under the bus to rescue the heroine. <3

This novella is pretty darn awesome – the dialogue is snappy, the characters smart and interesting, the chemistry real. Best of all? It's FREE. You heard me. Go get it. 

Thank you, Heather! If you'd like some links, Ruined by a Rake is available at Goodreads | Amazon | BN | Kobo | iBooks.

Have you read this novella? Are you curious? (It's still free, cheesy bread, free!) Do you have a novella to recommend to everyone? (Authors: please note, this is not an invitation to pimp your own work – thank you!) 

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  1. 1

    So, is the titular rake the nasty uncle? From your description, Nicolas doesn’t sound like the typical womanizing git reformed by the Love of a Good Woman (TM).

  2. 2
    Spinster says:

    Not free on (stupid, backward-thinking, overpriced) B&N, but luckily I have Calibre and ALL THE PLUGINS for the translation of formats.

    I swear, if the Nook itself wasn’t such an awesome device, I’d have washed my hands of B&N years ago…

  3. 3

    It is free on Nook if you know where to find it. Here’s the direct link.  Happy reading. I enjoyed this!

  4. 4
    Vasha says:

    A lovely novella by Tamara Allen is “If It Ain’t Love”. And Courtney Milan doesn’t need any recommendations here, but her novella “Unlocked” is an example of one where I thought it was exactly as long as it needed to be.

  5. 5
    Nita says:

    Yep, it is free on Nook. It is also, strangely enough, available for $0.99 in a separate link. Which, to support the author, is not what I would call overpriced.

  6. 6
    LaineyT says:

    Free @ the Sony ebookstore as well

  7. 7
    Heather S says:

    Nicholas was the “rake” in question. The novella is free as a promo to the release of the third book in Erin Knightley’s “Sealed with a Kiss” series. I picked up the first two books in the series yesterday, so after I finish with the stack of five Susanna Kearsley books I also got yesterday, I’ll start on Erin’s. :)

  8. 8
    cleo says:

    @Ashlyn – thanks for the BN link.  I just downloaded it.

    I love novellas.  I don’t think I can possibly limit myself to one to recommend.

    Capturing the Silken Thief by Jeannie Lin is a historical set in the Tang Dynasty.  Both the hero (a scholar) and the heroine (a song girl turned thief) are unusual and engaging.  It’s a great introduction to Jeannie Lin.  And it happens to be free right now at Amazon and BN.

    One More Soldier by Marie Sexton is an m/m short story that I think is just about perfect – it’s not exactly a romance because there’s no hea but the ending is hopeful.  It’s set in Texas in the late 60s / early 70s, during the Vietnam War and the beginning of the Gay Rights Movement.  It’s heartbreaking in a good way.

    Victoria Dahl’s The Wicked West is a historical Western bdsm romance and it totally works.  The romance is both hot and sweet.  It’s quite different from her other work – I love most of her novellas.

    Also have to give shout outs to Shannon Stacey, Courtney Milan, Mary Balough, Erin McCarthy and Loretta Chase, who all write excellent novellas and short stories. 

  9. 9
    cleo says:

    @cleo – Jeannie Lin’s novella is set in China during the Tang Dynasty.  Argh.

  10. 10
    Rebecca says:

    Second the recommendation for Jeannie Lin, and share the general enjoyment of novellas.  But this one annoyed the hell out of me.  I tried to overlook the sloppy editing (repeated use of “may” for “might” and “dual” for “duel”), and slightly ridiculous premise, but the e-reader nearly hit the wall when a character (not the protagonist) threatens “to marry a Tory and take up the cause of the working classes.”  Uh…what?  The Tories were the party of the aristocracy, and steadily opposed extending enfranchisement.  That’s not an obscure factoid.

    Also, the repeated emphasis on how much the hero has filled out since his youth bothered me.  Aside from personally finding the slender whipcord look more attractive than beefier builds, it upsets me that ALL romance heroes have to look like linebackers.  It’s as if Nicholas wasn’t worthy of Eleanor’s love until he bulked up his muscles (even though supposedly they’ve been fencing forever, so it’s not like he was an asthmatic weakling before he went away).  The three men Eleanor’s supposed to choose from for marriage are all fat and (gasp) in their forties, which clearly makes them the villains.

    Poor grammar, shoddy research and a focus on a single standard body image for heroes (that we’d all be screaming about if it were applied to the heroine) mean that I will not be reading more of this author’s work.

  11. 11
    HollyS says:

    Thanks for the link, Ashlyn!!

    [I probably would have paid the .99, anyway]

  12. 12
    Vasha says:

    On this recommendation, I read the Jeannie Lin novella, which struck me as a little insubstantial, but it did lead me to the author’s novel The Lotus Palace, by and large quite good, and I hope you’ll forgive me for talking about the latter some here.

    It’s set in the Tang Dynasty (circa 850 AD by the Western calendar), and does not skimp on historical details and politics. (I was puzzled by a reference to soup flavored with roasted chiles.) It has a good murder-mystery plot. He’s a rich and frivolous elder son of a nobleman, she’s a former prostitute now free of her debt to the brothel and working as a courtesan’s maidservant. I really liked that the book spent a lot of time carefully analyzing the enormous gulf in status, power, and privilege between the two of them, and how her lack of options shapes her view of the world in ways that he just can’t understand. His starry-eyed optimistic view of romance, of love being able to overcome anything, is the product of never even facing the possibility of not getting whatever he wanted, whereas she points out that he can’t marry her because it would stain the reputation of his entire family, and gloomily predicts that her becoming his concubine would kill their love. He struggles to understand her limitations, she struggles to look beyond them, and an enormous sense of frustration builds up—it’s well done. All resolved a little too simply though, when his mother turns out to be on the side of love and talks his father into letting them marry, but we aren’t told what they’ll do about the family-reputation thing which is a very real problem.

    But… here’s where I have to voice a big reservation. At one point the H saves the h from the bad guys, and afterward they have sex, and it’s different from when they did before (which I had liked because he was gentle and not completely overbearing). I quote:

    There was a quiet urgency in him she’d never experienced before…. Beneath his expensive clothing, Bai Huang wasn’t dissolute and sheltered. He was fierce when pushed to it. Protective. When he eased himself into her, it was as if he belonged there, his body fitting inside her until there was no room in her heart or mind for anything else…. There were no preliminaries, no soft caresses or whispered words. Though sensation built within her, the act wasn’t as much about pleasure as it was about possession. Even when he took her breast into his mouth as her pleasure rose, it was an attempt to claim her further. His tongue rasped against her nipple until she wept and moaned. With each thrust of his hips, he was willing her climax, her surrender to him. And she did surrender, her muscles taut and straining until she thought she would break.

    In other words, he has now matured and earned full hero status, and marks it by dominating and possessing the heroine fully for the first time (an idea repeated during the rest of the book). Which is clearly the author’s point of view not merely a historically-appropriate one. To which I say, yuck. This idea that a fully-worthy hero, by virtue of being protective, owns his woman and obtains her utter surrender—no, no, no; especially when lots of ink was spilled earlier about her desire not to be owned by anyone. That one page was almost enough to kill my respect for the book entirely.

    (On a side-note, is there a snappy TV Tropes-esque name for the so-often-encountered scene in which the hero, formerly a copious womanizer, tries to get it on with an attractive available woman and realizes (usually to his puzzlement) that he isn’t even interested because it isn’t Her?)

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