"A long awaited sequel blends eroticism and Regency elegance"
Reviewed by Make Kay
Posted September 24, 2014
A NOTORIOUS RUIN is book two in the Sinclair
Published twelve years after the 2002 release of Lord Ruin,
book one in the series, A NOTORIOUS RUIN blithely throws
vague references to a scandalous occurrence from book one
without explicitly reminding us what happened, which I
found off-putting. Other than this, the book can easily be
read as a stand-alone. Characters from book one make
extended appearances in A NOTORIOUS RUIN, so readers may
find their enjoyment increased by refreshing themselves on
book one before starting this read.
Lucy Sinclair Wilcott is the widow of a former prize
fighter. She was sold to the man by her wretch of a gentry
father for an enormous amount of money, to cover her
father's gambling debts. This marriage to a commoner and a
brawler puts Lucy beyond the pale to her peers. When her
husband dies as the result of injuries from a bout, Lucy
must come home to live in penury with her despicable
father, shunned by the vicious villagers around her. All
she desires is to save up enough to buy a little cottage of
her own and live alone with her flowers and poetry. Her
life is almost over-the-top tragic to me.
Then Lord Thrale shows up and throws a spanner in Lucy's
works. Thrale is an amateur boxer himself and is
astonished to meet the highly knowledgeable widow of the
author of a much-vaunted tome of the art of pugilism. On
meeting her, Thrale believes Lucy to be a brittle and
thoughtless perfection. But slowly he discovers that
beneath her astonishing beauty and apparent indifference
beats the heart of a brilliant and loyal woman who is
everything he wants in life. But can he convince her of
This was a fairly cerebral read for me. It took me a while
to get into the groove of the story, but I'm glad I stuck
with it, because the payoff was very worth it. The
language is elegant and oh so slightly stilted, which made
me feel suspended in the Regency period of the story, where
etiquette and dress was so rigid. I felt Jewel did a
superb job of evoking the era and locale. The lovely and
explicit sex scenes also rang true and yet did not pull me
out of the era, which I thought masterful. I am glad that
Jewel has gone back to this series, and I'm looking forward
to the next of the Sinclair Sisters to fall in love.
The Sinclair Sisters Series, Book 2 - A Notorious Ruin
All the widowed Lucy Sinclair Wilcott wants is to save
enough money to move to a cottage of her own and keep her
younger sister safe from the consequences of their fatherâ€™s
poor judgment. No one is more aware than she how thoroughly
her first marriage ruined her. She could not remarry if she
wanted to. Then the Marquess of Thrale comes to visit and
long-absent feelings of desire surge back.
Everything Lord Thrale believes about the beautiful Mrs.
Wilcott is wrong. The very last woman he thought he was
interested in proves to be a brilliant, amusing, arousing
woman of deep honor who is everything he wants in a lover,
for the rest of his life. If only he can convince her of
ExcerptTHE COOPERAGE. BARTLEY GREEN, ENGLAND, 1820
Lucy sat in the bow window of the second parlor and gazed
at the scene unfolding below. Their new groom, looking
smart in the suit sheâ€™d bought him from last weekâ€™s
winnings, continued to struggle with the step to the
carriage in the driveway. Oh, dear. She had hoped for a
better debut from him than this. â€śWell, Roger, old boy.â€ť
The elderly hound at her feet rose and placed his head on
her lap. She rubbed his shoulder. â€śThis does not bode
The dog, a wolfhound, if one squinted just so, did not
The mechanism of the step defeated the groom still. She
hoped and expected he would improve rapidly. At last, he
managed the trick, but then he struggled with the carriage
door. High atop the vehicle, the driver watched with
Outside, her father arrived to greet their guests. He stood
a few feet away, hatless, arms held wide in greeting.
Yesterdayâ€™s excellent weather had given way to clouds and
enough of a breeze to riffle his iron-gray hair. Sheâ€™d
locked the door to the wine cellar three hours ago and was
hopeful he was not drunk. Heâ€™d have found his way to the
port and sherry, though. The groom held the door.
A gentleman exited; Captain Niall. She did not want them
here, her fatherâ€™s guests. Papa enter-tained like a man
with ten or twenty thousand a year when, in fact, his
income was far less and his debts far greater.
Captain Niall buttoned his greatcoat against the wind. He
was a man of immense charm and refine-ment whom others had
hinted would be a good match for her. As if such a thing
were conceivable or in comportment with her desires.
This would not be, no matter anyoneâ€™s wishes.
The second occupant of the carriage emerged.
The Marquess of Thrale swung his arms and glanced at the
sky a moment before he shook out his coat and wrapped his
scarf around his throat. Despite his being unmarried and in
possession of a title, he had not been a dashing figure in
Town last season. Thrale, however, had made a friend of her
sister Anne, and that was enough to recommend him to
anyone. Though she appreciated his height and brawn, she
did not find him interesting.
Captain Niall put his hands on his hips and arched his
back. Thrale said something in that somber way of his, and
Captain Niall laughed. They seemed unlikely friends, those
two, yet they had traveled together from London all the way
to Bartley Green. A month or more at The Cooperage and then
another at Rosefeld after her brother-in-law and the others
She did like Captain Niallâ€™s quick smile. Who did not
appreciate a handsome, amiable man? She resented his being
here. Lord Thrale, too.
The groom now held the head of Thraleâ€™s lead horse. Here,
he displayed the expertise that had made her hire him over
an older man. He had his mouth by the horseâ€™s ear and gave
every appear-ance of whispering secrets while he stroked
the animalâ€™s neck.
Roger settled his head on her lap as she ab-sently rubbed
his ears. Outside, her father and Lord Thrale shook hands.
The same exchange occurred with Captain Niall. The men
continued to converse, and then Papa went to the lead coach
horse and ran a hand down its front leg. They were fine
horses. Not ostentatious, but one saw the quality. One of
the hunting dogs wandered from the stable, and her father
gave its shoulders a pat. Lord Thrale did the same.
Conversation turned to the carriage, for Lord Thrale
thumped the side of the vehicle. The marquessâ€™s carriage,
since that was his coat of arms on the door. Talbot
passant, and his coronet of rank.
Captain Niall, Lord Thrale, and her father re-mained in the
driveway chatting. The groom rode postilion while the
coachman drove the rig to the stable block. She continued
with her excellent view of Thrale. He was a man of
restraint and reserve who rarely extended his friendship to
others. One must earn his regard. Her sister Anne, now the
Duchess of Cynssyr, had done so. As if anything else were
Papa gestured, describing, most likely, the gen-eral bounds
of the property. He then pointed in the direction of
Rosefeld, the home of her brother-in-law, Baron Aldreth.
Not, at present, in residence, though he soon would be.
The two men were here to ride and to hunt and fish, and do
all the sorts of things gentlemen did in the country. Lord
Thraleâ€™s presence was due, she suspected, to the fact that
Bartley Green was a fertile location for a Sporting man to
spend his time. Exhibitions and battles between talented
and re-nowned prizefighters were frequent here owing
chiefly to the presence of Johnsonâ€™s Academy of Pugilistic
Arts in town. The Academy was one of Englandâ€™s finest
arenas for training and improving oneâ€™s skills in the art
and science of pugilism.
At last, all three men turned to the house. Papa was
grinning. No one could say Mr. Thomas Sinclair, Esquire,
was not a congenial host. Because he never bothered to
square expenses with income, there never was a guest who
went away complaining of his experiences at The Cooperage.
The best food, the best wine and spirits, cigars of rare
and exotic tobaccos. Constant entertainments.
Roger came to attention when the front door closed. Voices
he did not know meant new people to admire and pet him. She
leaned over and stroked his head. Five minutes more of
freedom. Five minutes in which she could be herself. So
much grey around his muzzle. â€śWe shall meet them presently,
and you will be your noble self, yes?â€ť
Most everyone believed the Sinclair fortunes were beyond
reproach. After all, there were now two noble sons-in-law,
one of them a duke, and long outstanding debts had been
settled within days of Anneâ€™s marriage.
In reality, heâ€™d had a year to run up new debts and had
done so with disheartening rapidity. Lucy kept the books
now that Anne was married and was now intimate with the
hopelessness of their finances. Papa had only to say; My
second daughterâ€™s hus-band is Baron Aldreth, and my eldest
married Cynssyr. Yes. The duke. And credit was extended for
more foolishness and waste.
She stood and ran light fingers over her hair, securing an
errant pin or two, then adjusted her shawl and smoothed her
bodice and skirts. If all one had was oneâ€™s looks, then
appearing at oneâ€™s best was vital. Time and again sheâ€™d
been told beauty did not matter, that what mattered was
oneâ€™s mind and heart. The evidence for that, in her
experience, was not persuasive. The exception proved the
rule; her sister Anneâ€™s marriage to the duke.
With Roger at her heels, she walked down the corridor to
the stairs to meet her father and their guests, fully
armored, to paraphrase the great Boswell, with perfection.
â€śLucy.â€ť Her father extended a hand and kissed her cheek
when she met them. Captain Niall and Lord Thrale stood
behind and to one side of her father, expectant. Smiling.
Well. One of them was smiling. â€śLook here, itâ€™s Lord Thrale
and Captain Niall come to visit.â€ť
She despised meaningless conversation. She did not wish to
be cheerful or amusing or, worse, interesting. She had made
an art of never being the latter. Subjects ladies were
expected to find interest-ing seldom interested her.
Sometimes, oftentimes, too often, she missed the bluntness
of her old life. â€śSit, Roger.â€ť
Roger sat like the magnificent dog he was. He had no
trouble meeting people. She remembered to curtsy to Lord
Thrale first. Sheâ€™d been away from London only a few
months, and already sheâ€™d fallen out of the habit of
genteel manners. Disaster awaited if she forgot herself.
â€śMy lord. Welcome to Bartley Green.â€ť
Few men could stand silent and be so terribly present as
the marquess. How had she forgotten that about him? His
silence made her worry sheâ€™d already misstepped. He was
taller than Captain Niall by three or four inches at least,
much broader across his shoulders and torso, too.
In her time away from London, sheâ€™d not had to pretend she
was a delicate and fragile woman. From the corner of her
eye, she saw her father frown. He took it as a point of
pride that men found her desirable, as if she were a pet
dog who mattered only when it performed the requested
Everyone falls in love with Lucyâ€™s beauty.
Sometimes she wondered if her father kept a tally of the
men he felt had fallen in love with her face or figure, and
whether his satisfaction with her depended upon an ever-
If she had managed to offend Lord Thrale so soon, well,
there was nothing for it. He would have to live with his
disappointment in her and she with his disapproval. Quite
manageable, in her opinion.
At last, the marquess bowed. â€śMrs. Wilcott.â€ť
The next several weeks stretched before her, a desert of
emptiness that must be crossed no matter how desiccated she
became. With a smile, she turned to the captain. Ah, yes.
This was the trick, wasnâ€™t it? A smile that meant nothing
In contrast to Thrale, the captain was a la mode;
everything a man of taste and fashion could hope to be and
more. â€śGood afternoon, sir. I hope we find you well.â€ť
â€śYes, thank you. Is Miss Sinclair at home?â€ť Cap-tain Niall
had been one of her sister Emilyâ€™s most ardent admirers
â€śShe is visiting a dear friend, but never fear. She will be
home presently.â€ť Roger bumped against her thighs, and she
came near to losing her balance. Lord Thrale was close
enough to steady her. â€śThank you, my lord.â€ť There was
unexpected strength in his grip. â€śBefore tea I expect.â€ť
Roger left his sit to sniff Captain Niallâ€™s boots and then
his knees. He gave the dog a gentle push away with one leg.
Thwarted in his quest for admira-tion, Roger turned to Lord
â€śNow, Lucy, mâ€™dear.â€ť Papaâ€™s frown deepened. â€śNo one wants a
dog coming up so bold as that.â€ť
â€śMy apologies.â€ť She moved to pull Roger away, but Lord
Thrale had already bent to give Rogerâ€™s shoulder a rub.
â€śThis is your dog, maâ€™am?â€ť
Captain Niallâ€™s mouth twitched. â€śI donâ€™t know that Iâ€™ve
ever seen a dog of such uncertain antecedents. Are you
certain heâ€™s yours, Mrs. Wilcott? I thought ladies kept
dogs they can hold in their arms. This one is a monster.â€ť
â€śIâ€™m sure some do.â€ť A thread of panic pulled tight. Such
ironic words were not expected from her, for she did not
miss Lord Thraleâ€™s cocked eyebrow. She pasted on another
smile. She would defend Roger to anyone, including
charming, happy, Captain Niall. Even to the king himself.
â€śNevertheless, he is mine.â€ť
Lord Thrale found the spot behind Rogerâ€™s ear the dog loved
best, and Roger groaned in ecstasy, dignity abandoned.
â€śI hope you had a pleasant journey here, Cap-tain Niall. My
Papa spoke over her. â€śNow, Lucy, that mongrel of yoursâ€”â€ť
Lord Thrale gave Roger one last pat and straightened. â€śYes,
maâ€™am. We did.â€ť
Her father clapped Thrale on the shoulder. Rog-er,
meanwhile, plastered himself against the mar-quessâ€™s legs,
tail wagging. â€śIâ€™m going to show you the billiards room,
had it put in last winter. What do you think of that?â€ť
â€śPapa.â€ť Careful negotiations were required with her father
now that he had the stimulation of guests and spirits.
â€śLord Thrale and Captain Niall might first like to change
from their travel clothes.â€ť
â€śAre you saying our guests do not look present-able?â€ť
â€śNot at all.â€ť Anne knew how to deal with him when heâ€™d been
at the sherry. Anne knew the words to say and how to say
them, and Lucy failed at that. She always had. Even before
Lucy left Bartley Green, Anne had managed everything.
Thrale and her father both were watching her. Captain
Niall, too, and her panic blossomed. She was to be
unnoticed for anything but her appear-ance. She had not
made an auspicious start.
She took a step back, and her elbow bumped a marble bust of
Aristotle. A recent purchase of Papaâ€™s she had been unable
to prevent. Heâ€™d had the statuary sent all the way from
Athens. She doubted it was genuine. For several seconds,
she lost the feeling in her arm. Damn. She resisted the
impulse to cradle her elbow. â€śHad I been traveling all day,
I should want a moment to put myself to rights.â€ť
Her father guffawed. â€śIf thereâ€™s a light breeze, she wants
to put herself to rights, ainâ€™t that so, Lucy?â€ť He shook
his head and shared his merriment. â€śI never saw a girl so
worried she might have a hair out of place. From the day
she was born, I own.â€ť
â€śIâ€™m sure,â€ť she said, â€śquite sure Lord Thrale will enjoy
the billiards room.â€ť And there was Captain Niall, standing
here, so handsome and charming. â€śCaptain Niall, too.â€ť
â€śA moment to neaten myself would be welcome.â€ť Whether
Thrale said this because she was flounder-ing so horribly,
she had no idea, but she was grateful he had. â€śThank you,
Mrs. Wilcott. Sinclair, shall we find each other later?â€ť
â€śYes, yes, of course,â€ť he said. â€śIâ€™ll show you your rooms,
then, my lord. Captain. Weâ€™ll have a friendly game
â€śI look forward to it,â€ť Thrale said.
Captain Niallâ€™s gaze lingered on her, and she gave him what
she called her drawing room smile. â€śWill we see your sister
later, Mrs. Wilcott?â€ť
â€śYes, certainly.â€ť There were two of her. The woman she
presented and the woman inside who wished these men gone.
How was she going to survive the coming weeks?
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