Ruined by Rumor - Alyssa Everett 3.5 stars

After reading far too many "romances" with crazy-ass new alphas, I bought Ruined by Rumor on a whim. When BAVR gets depressed about the state of the romance genre, she needs a good beta to bring it all back into perspective. Yes, you read it here: BAVR loves beta heroes. They're sweet, sexy, usually have some deep-seated angst that they try to ignore, and most importantly, they don't act like raging lunatics.

So call this my Great Beta Cleanse of 2013. I will be reading more to wash the yuck of REAL out of my mind because Ruined by Rumor and its adorable beta made for a pleasant, cozy surprise.

It isn't perfect, but no formulaic Regency romance is. It has a classy spirit, though. The sex is romantic, not gag-me explicit. The romance is slow-building, not unbelievably instant. Alex, Earl of Ayersley, has been in love with Roxana Langley, his best friend's sister, for years. Unfortunately, when he first intended to court her, he was too awkward and shy to make a move before the dashing (read: douchebagguette) George Wyatt swooped in and proposed to her. George joins the cavalry and leaves Roxana for FIVE YEARS, and for all that time she pines after him and quietly resents Alex because Wyatt once told her the earl thought she was silly or whatever.

When Wyatt returns, Roxana is excited to finally marry her true love. Then the douchebaguette jilts her, and Alex attempts to comfort her. Naturally, a beta's form of "comfort" is to kiss the girl like a starved lip ninja, and Roxana is promptly ruined because the people who accidentally spied them thought he was humping her.

Thus begins Alex and Roxana's marriage of convenience. But it isn't really that for him because he secretly loves her. Roxana, on the other hand, is plagued with guilt because she thinks he's marrying a woman he doesn't like in order to do the honorable thing. And she's still mourning her relationship with George, who keeps showing up and casting doubts on her confusing marriage.

At times, I wished I was a time-traveling assassin who could shoot George in the face and come back to 2013 like nothing had happened.

It's a good thing Roxana and Alex are so attracted to each other, or the marriage really could have been a disaster.

Roxana remains a little too willfully blind to George's manipulation for my taste, but she makes up for that by genuinely trying to make things work with Alex. The earl, on the other hand, tries not to smother Roxana with his overwhelming love, leaving her to think he doesn't care. While I usually hate Misunderstanding Plots, Alex and Roxana are likable enough to make it entertaining.

The whole book, I was waiting for Alex to have a meltdown - a spectacular, irrational meltdown that would bring his character to another level. He DOES. And it's FABULOUS. >:D

So, yes, while Ruined by Rumor is formulaic, and actually a little old-fashioned, Everett has a charming, competent way with prose that makes reading very easy and enjoyable. As romances go, this is a refreshing change from the dirtied-up style everyone else is going for at the moment. I'm actually excited to pick up another one of her books for future brain cleanses.