All the Ways to Ruin a Rogue by Sophie Jordan

All the Ways to Ruin a RogueThe Debutante Files, 2Sophie JordanHistorical RomanceAvonJuly 28, 2015Paperback374

There was once a lady who loathed a lord…

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.

…and a lord who was confounded by a lady.

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. Infuriating 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.

I’m not going to lie: I was disappointed with this story. After Aurelia gained my love in A Good Debutante’s Guide to Ruin, and made me like her more in An Heiress for All Seasons, I expected an awesome love story for her. What I got was similar to my issues with An Heiress for All Seasons: good characters, weak plot, earning 3 stars.

I’ve talked a lot about Aurelia before, so let’s start with the leading man of the novel: Maximus, Viscount Camden, best friend of both previous men (Aurelia’s cousin Declan in A Good Debutante’s Guide to Ruin, and her brother William in An Heiress for All Seasons). Max is by far the biggest scoundrel of the three: he hit on Rosalie before learning she was Declan’s step-sister, baited William into admitting he liked Violet. I suppose he’s a bad boy cupid because his meddling always causes his friends to reckon with their romantic feelings before it’s too late. There’s no question he’s Aurelia’s match: he can match her sparring (and does so specifically in An Heiress for All Seasons), has good chemistry with her, and of course, secretly has a heart of gold.

I’m briefly going to talk a bit more about Aurelia. I do say there are good characters in this story, but I feel like Aurelia is shortchanged here. She comes across much weaker than she had in the previous books and the idea that once she falls in love she loses her claws rubbed me the wrong way. The reasons I loved her as a character in her previous appearances almost fully disappear—and rather quickly, to my dismay.

Let’s talk about plot: It’s contrived (again, like An Heiress for All Seasons). Don’t get me wrong, there are books that are successful in my book & based on a hate-to-love trope (e.g. Pride and Prejudice). But in that example, meddling outsiders, the vices of pride and prejudice, and class politics also pull the love interests apart, making a compelling plot filled with internal and external obstacles. Here, however, it really boils down to playground annoyance with each other. Besides chemistry, there’s no real reason either Aurelia or Maximus should abandon their (stupid) feud to get together, as much as there’s no reason for them to have the feud in the first place.

I always used to think that characters were the most important thing, and I still stand by that assessment, but if a plot disservices the characters & isn’t reasonable enough in my mind, it will have a greater (more often negative) impact on my rating than anything else. A story doesn’t work if all the parts don’t work, and in a novel, the plot needs to be sturdy enough to sustain a book without contrived circumstances and make its characters shine. All the Ways to Ruin a Rogue unfortunately doesn’t have that.

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