Reviewed by Ashia
A GOOD DEBUTANTE'S GUIDE TO RUIN is the first book in The Debutante Files. Conflicts arise when stepsister feels a strong attraction to the stepbrother she hasn't seen in seven years.
Rosalie Hughes is the ward of Declan, Duke of Banbury. She also happens to be his stepsister. When she comes of age and is sent home from school, she has to come to terms with her attraction to the duke and his hatred and disgust of her mother. Yet, he does his duty by her, bestowing her with a dowry and accepting the first marriage of proposal that came her way.
When Rosalie realizes this, she yearns for freedom, for a choice that is hers to make alone. When a friend invites her to Sodom, a club that noblemen frequents, she goes along, disguised with a mask, wanting only to choose the person who will receive her first kiss. To her surprise, she meets Declan...and somehow, they combust. What happens when she reveals her identity to Declan?
Rosalie is a great heroine; she knows her station in life, she abides by it, yet she also dares to reach out for a chance to live life as she wants it. Her situation brought home to me the fact that women in her times don't have much of a choice--even the matter of her husband is decided by her father, or in Rosalie's case, by her guardian. It is only an indulgent father/guardian who would care for the woman's wishes, and how many of those are there? So, I applaud her for taking the chance to have the freedom to choose, no matter if it is just the man who will receive her first kiss. However, I don't get what she sees in Declan, aside from the feelings she had for the younger Declan.
With regard to Declan, outwardly, he's the typical Regency rake who is prone to drinking and womanizing. However, it is because he experienced a great trauma that he loses himself in these things. So, a tortured hero who should have tugged at the heartstrings, and yet, I don't feel much sympathy for him. I mean, his situation is certainly heartrending, but I don't feel connected to him. Moreover, I don't feel that he's in love with Rosalie. Lust, yes, but the deeper feelings? Not so much.
So, while they are both great characters individually and I can definitely see the sparks between them and feel the sexy hotness they create together, emotion-wise, they don't satisfy as much. And it's not because of their pseudo-sibling status. Actually, they don't have much to do with each other for seven years, as they lived apart and don't get to see the other, so I doubt if they even see each other as "sister" or "brother". They just happen to be step-siblings by the circumstance of their parents' marriage.
Still, it's a good read for someone who loves historical romances. I'm actually giving this book 3.5 stars. The pacing of the story was just right, and there were lots of suspenseful and spine-tingling moments, though the villains and their actions were predictable. With this book as the first in the series, there are more to look forward to. I'm especially awaiting Aurelia's book, who promises to be a spirited heroine and more than a match for her hero, whom I think will be Max (Declan's friend).