[Review] Ruined by Sarah Vaughn, Sarah Winifred Searle, and Niki Smith *Review Copy*

The whole town is whispering about how Catherine Benson lost her virtue, though they can never agree on the details. Was it in the public garden? Or a moving carriage?

Only a truly desperate man would want her now—and that’s exactly what Andrew Davener is. His family’s estate is in disrepair, but Catherine’s sizeable dowry could set it to rights.

After the two wed, Catherine finds herself inexplicably drawn to Andrew. But could falling in love with her husband tear her marriage apart? In this richly detailed Regency romance, duty and passion collide in a slow-burn tale of intertwined fates.

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A Convenience Marriage Catching Spark

I had the pleasure of reading this graphic novel back in August thanks to Netgalley. It sparked my interest through the setting and the graphic style, but I stayed for the both main characters. Catherine and Andrew both habe several packages to carry and I loved to get to know their individual backstories. I likewise enjoyed seeing them build a future. This slow burn (with a bit grumpy meets sunshine) is based on shared ideas and sense of economies and their mutual respect for each other, which is so much more enchanting than many other stories. When we see them talk and listen to one another, my heart bloomed with anticipation and love for them. The illustrators enabled us to watch them appreciate the small things as much as for us to see the tiny changes.


This story further features other endearing plots. Andrew’s sister Gemma repeatedly challenges him but has her own struggles. His aunt is the heart of the family and deserves the best. Catherine’s maid is looking for a way to independence and gets her own happy end. And Catherine’s sister’s love story is the side plot I did not expect but cherish the most. There is one main story line but several small developments to enjoy while devouring this novel.

The story itself is already moving, but the illustrations make it come alive uniquely. There are small changes to witness in our protagonist’s estate that reflect their individual and joint growth. Colors and -hades allow us to recognize their moods and feel their emotions even more. Even without speech bubbles, the sketches conveyed deep sensations and made us feel with the characters. From a raised or narrowed eye brow in Andrew’s face to a tone in the sky, the illustrators knew how to get the message across. I will definitely look out for morse of their projects.


In conclusion

The protagonists as much as the side characters came alive in this moving love story thanks to the slow individual and joint developments and the illustrators‘ talent to signify a lot through endearing details. I’m afraid Andrew and Catherine’s story is already over but I’m looking forward to any other project of the contributors.



The author:

Sarah Vaughn tries to write things. Some of their work includes Sleepless, co-created with Leila del Duca (Image Comics); Eternal Empire, co-created with Jonathan Luna (Image Comics); and Deadman: Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love (DC Comics). They enjoy history, romance, fantasy, and comics in any and all combinations. Q

The illustrator:

Sarah Winifred Searle originally hails from spooky New England but currently lives in sunny Boorloo (Perth, Australia). Their first award-winning graphic novels were Sincerely, Harriet (Graphic Universe, 2019) and Patience & Esther: An Edwardian Romance (Iron Circus Comics, 2021). Their First Second books are The Greatest Thing (2021), Ruined (2023), and their upcoming vampire rom-com, The Sweetness Between Us. Q

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