Alex Stanton just inherited a dukedom, but his true passion is uncovering charlatans and frauds wherever he finds them. Spiritualist and medium Evangeline "Evie" Jones is the biggest fake of all, and he's determined to expose her lies for all of London to see. Her prim manner and ladylike airs don't fool him. He sees the hunger beneath and recognizes a worthy opponent. He can't deny the dark undercurrents of lust between them.
Evie worked her way up from the gutter, and she's not about to abandon the life she's built for fear of this aristocratic dilettante. She knows his type. She sees the attraction simmering beneath his animosity, and she knows how to use it to keep him off balance. They strike a bargain. He has one week to prove she's a fake. If he fails, he has to abandon all further attempts. If he succeeds, she'll not only retire but make a public statement explaining all her tricks.
Neither expects to find anything in common, not to mention anything to love, in the other. Both are blindsided by the affinity and blossoming tenderness between them. But even if it were possible for a lowly charlatan to live happily ever after with a duke, more is going on than either suspects. Someone else has brought them together for a sinister purpose of his own.
The Ruin of Evangeline Jones was my first read by Julia Bennet, and though my attention wandered while reading at times, I thought it was a very promising, interesting read. Though it is the second in a series, it works perfectly well as a stand-alone.
I've read a few books where the MC is a medium or spiritualist charlatan and the love interest is the person trying to figure out if they are a fraud, my favorite of which is An Unnatural Vice, so this book had big shoes to fill. I was pleased by the grim, darker tone of the story and tense feeling of the writing. I thought that the author delivered in a lot of ways with the overall atmosphere of the story. The couple was also interesting together, though I struggled with the attraction from the female MC.
However, I feel like something was a bit off with the pacing. The story felt very long, and it took me five days to finish, which is a long time for me. I also didn't quite buy that Evie was into Alex. I felt like she was a very vulnerable character, and her attraction came out of nowhere. I was more fearful for her, and I don't think romance would have been at the forefront of her mind.
I was intrigued by the side characters, and I will be very interested in reading book 3, which will probably feature Alex's cousin. I think the author did a lot right with this story, and I could see myself falling in love with her writing in the future.
*Copy provided in exchange for an honest review*