One of my favorite party questions (and I’m terrible at parties; I can never keep names and faces straight) is asking people how they ended up with their significant others. Sometimes as they tell the story, they’ll mention the mistakes they made along the way: falling for the Narcissist who never called, the Peter Pan who refused to grow up, the bad boy who couldn’t be faithful, the commitment-phobe who kept them dangling for years. My own near-miss inspired my new regency romance, Ruined by Rumor: I wanted a nice guy, but when he finally showed up, I put him in the Friend Zone.
I was still in college at the time, and one of my roommates was dating a classmate from a large rooming group. Over the course of a few days I met his roommates, about a dozen of them, and we all became friends. They were brash, funny, gregarious guys—all except one. He was cute but quiet. He mostly hung back and didn’t join in the teasing, the trash talking, and the noisy conversation. I mentally categorized him as a math major or a computer geek, someone a bit antisocial. I certainly didn’t see him as potential date material.
Fast forward three years, and I’d learned the quiet roommate wasn’t really that quiet, just on the shy side. He wasn’t even a math major or a computer geek. In fact, I’d had everything about him wrong. The man I’d ruled out as potential date material turned out to be excellent husband material—witty, principled, charming, and thoughtful. We got married two years after graduation, and he’s a great husband and father, a handsome doctor, frankly the best thing that ever happened to me. The point is, it took me far too long to realize just how unfair I’d been to him, discounting his romantic possibilities. It’s easy to be dazzled by men with quick smiles and smooth lines—the Wickhams and Willoughbys of Jane Austen’s novels—but it’s a man’s character that really counts in the long run.
The sheltered heroine of Ruined by Rumor, Roxana Langley, has to learn that same lesson. She’s young and inexperienced, since the only man she’s ever loved has been off fighting the French.
After waiting five years for her fiancé to return from the war and marry her, Roxana Langley has been jilted! She may have longed for excitement, but this was not what she had in mind…
Who could possibly throw over a woman as beautiful and vivacious as Roxana? Certainly not Alex Winslow, the Earl of Ayersley, who has spent years trying in vain to forget his unrequited love. When he learns she’s been abandoned by her cad of a fiancé, he finds himself offering a shoulder for her to cry on. Comfort soon turns into a passionate kiss—and scandal when they are caught in an embrace.
Only one thing will save Roxana from certain ruination: marriage to the earl. The match may save her reputation, but responsible, tongue-tied Ayersley is a far cry from her dashing former fiancé. She’s convinced Ayersley is merely doing his duty…while he’s sure Roxana is still in love with another man. Are they trading one disaster for another?
Nowadays we’re not likely to enter a marriage of convenience before we find Mr. Right, but everyone’s path to romance is special. How did you meet the love of your life? Did you sense right away that he (or she) could be The One, or did it take something more to open your eyes? Leave a comment, and I’ll use Random.org to select the winner of a $25 Sephora gift certificate. (Edited to add: I’ll need the winner’s e-mail address to send the prize, so you can either include it in your comment or check back here tomorrow and be prepared to contact me with it if you’re the winner. I’ll post the winner’s name on Wednesday morning 5/23 after 8:00 a.m. Eastern, which is also the cut-off time for entering.)
Alyssa Everett grew up in Florida, where from an early age her favorite books typically had dukes in them. She met her future husband at Harvard University. They currently live with their three children in small-town Pennsylvania. Ruined by Rumor is her debut romance. Expect her next regency from Carina Press in early 2013.