A LADY'S GUIDE TO RUIN – Kathleen Kimmel
England – 1815
Joan Price, thief extraordinaire, has escaped from Bedlam, procured clothes to cover her hunger starved body, and stolen the diamonds her brother and his partner had heisted. Now, finding herself in an upper crust part of London, Joan needs to find a way to get far, far away from her brother, Moses, and fellow crook, Hugh. For it was they who got her locked away in the asylum to protect themselves from jail. Escape comes in the form of a lavender scented young girl calling herself Daphne who thrusts some letters into Joan's hand, begging her to deliver them to the Hargroves, with her apologies, and then she is gone. Moments later, a tall gentleman approaches, meets Joan's eyes and says, “Daphne?”
Martin Hargrove hates the idea of being Lord Fenbrook. That title rightly belongs to his older brother, Charles, but he has disappeared. Martin has hired someone to search for him, but in the meantime, he must deal with his young cousin, Daphne, and move her and his twin, Elinor, to the family's country home, Birch Hall. And he must stop staring at the lovely Daphne, as fascinating as she is. He has no intention of marrying, especially since he must concentrate on finding Charles. Daphne seems a bit mysterious and enchanting, but there is something else about her that Martin can't put a finger on.
Elinor is not so easily fooled, but she, too, finds her “cousin” exciting to be around. Overly protected by her twin, Elinor wants a little excitement in her life, and her cousin, or whoever she is, has brought some color to Elinor's days. But Joan/Daphne is all too aware that her brother and Hugh are not going to take the theft of the diamonds lightly, and they won't give up looking for her. Plus, her attraction to Lord Fenbrook is not healthy for either one of them.
A LADY'S GUIDE TO RUIN is a fast-paced, well written adventure with lots of romance tucked in. Joan is all too aware that she is in a precarious position, and someone is bound to figure out that she's not Daphne sooner or later. Plus there is the danger to all if Moses and Hugh arrive on the scene. Strait-laced Martin wants to keep his sister and cousin safe while he searches for Charles. But he keeps getting side-tracked by the lovely Daphne, who really doesn't seem to be the shy young girl he thought she would be.
There are some sweetly romantic scenes as well as a rather exciting and frightening event that moves the story towards its conclusion. A debut novel, A LADY'S GUIDE TO RUIN is a very fine start to a promising writing career for this new author.