The Ruin of a Rogue - Miranda Neville It's unfortunate, but I just didn't connect with the heroine at all, and I felt like I was slogging through quicksand trying to just get through the story. At one point, I didn't like either Anne or Marcus, although Marcus improved a smidge once at Hinton Manor. He was not strong enough, however, to make up for a heroine who vacillated between bored heiress and pretentious, pedantic bluestocking.

Anne Brotherton is beset by fortune hunters and wants to be liked for her "kind heart" and "sharp mind." Marcus Lithgow has spent most of his life traveling Europe with Lewis Lithgow, his duplicitous father and general ne'er-do-well who cheats at cards, cheated on Marcus's mother, and "trained" Marcus to be just like him. Lewis had a falling out with the Duke of Castleton many years ago, ending with allegations of theft and forcing Lewis to leave England with 11-year old Marcus. (See The Importance of Being Wicked). A year ago, Lewis died, and Marcus slowly makes his way back to England. Unfortunately Lady Luck deserts him along the way, and he's having cash flow problems. (To his credit Marcus DOES NOT cheat at cards. Ever.) He decides to bait the hook for a rich heiress: Anne Brotherton.

Anne was problematic for me. She wants someone to marry her for herself, not her fortune. I understood that. I sympathized with that. It should have made her very likable. She has an intense interest in Roman antiquities. That's interesting and different. But beyond those facts, she just never displayed a lot of personality except when she finds out that Marcus has set out to marry her for her fortune. Then, she suddenly becomes a raging virago bent on teaching him a lesson. I could understand why she wanted to take a piece of his hide, but her plan had collateral damage: servants and clerks and cooks. Even as she acts like "Lady Haughty" with Marcus and admits to herself she has said/been cruel to someone who didn't deserve it, she continued it unabated. At this point I didn't like her at all. Before she was just vapid and colorless. Now she was hateful and loving it. Every time I read "Brotherton", I saw "B-O-T-H-E-R", not "B-R-O-T-H-E-R".

Marcus, too, was difficult to like. In the beginning he's just so hell-bent on securing an heiress that he pushes aside any genuine regard he may have for Anne. Without fail, each time he felt himself softening toward her, admiring her in any way, he puts on a charming deceitful mask to gull her. He knows her guardian will never approve a marriage between them so he plans to allow her feelings to become engaged and then coldbloodedly petition her guardian to "pay him off" to leave her alone. I started to like him, however, when Anne starts her "Lady Haughty" routine. For the first time, he showed genuine emotion for her, albeit paramount among those feelings were disgust and irritation. It was very funny how quickly he left London and "Lady Haughty" once he learned of his inheritance at Hinton Manor. He packed up so fast that I had a mental image of cartoonish running feet and nothing but dust where Marcus once stood.

Once at Hinton Manor, Marcus's character really develops nicely. His distress over the condition of the estate tenants, his willingness to pitch in with elbow grease to improve the Manor, his genuine caring about his tenants' quality of life, his anguish that he may be just like his no good father, and his discovery of letters from his mother to his stern, uncaring uncle documenting Marcus's birth, first steps, etc. all made me form a more favorable impression. He's not a "rogue" at all, just a man struggling with hard truths and difficult choices. He is trying to do the right thing, sometimes succeeding but sometimes falling back on what he knows best: the easy way.

The Ruin of a Rogue isn't terrible, but it does suffer from an uneven story line and a very boring and, at times, unlikable heroine. Anne's obsession with setting up an archeological site, digging up the Roman villa in the middle of winter with no help and her lack of experience and expertise with a project of that magnitude was just perplexing and felt like a device to make her appear "intelligent." It never felt like an integral part of her personality. Marcus was a much better character, but still not strong enough to compensate for the problems I had overall with this book.