To make up for the medieval disaster (see post below), I bought the Harlequin “Rapturous Rakes” bundle from Fictionwise yesterday. It contains
- A REPUTABLE RAKE by Diane Gaston (whose book was the reason I became interested in the bundle in the first place: I haven’t yet read any of her books – or at least I don’t remember having read any of her books – and I thought this was the perfect opportunity to catch up),
- THE RAKE by Georgina Devon, and
- THE RAKE’S MISTRESS by Nicola Cornick
A few years ago I used to love M&B historicals, though the Regencies were devilishly hard to find in the USBs of Galway, where I was initiated into the joys of category romance (thank you, Ann! *mmmmwah*). Indeed, among my all-time favourite historical romances, there are quite a number of M&B historicals, e.g. Margaret Moore’s THE WASTREL (such a sweet, sweet novel!) (and such a lovely cover!!! one of the first to show only a man), Mary Brendan’s THE SILVER SQUIRE, Ann Elizabeth Cree’s THE MARRIAGE TRUCE, or Elizabeth Rolls’s THE UNEXPECTED BRIDE. Another book I had enjoyed quite a lot was Georgina Devon’s BETRAYAL (the cover is a bit horrid, though – the heroine has a mullet). Therefore I was quite thrilled that another of Devon’s books was included in the aforementioned “Rapturous Rakes” bundle.
When I started reading the novel, I realised I’d read it before (I bought it on 11 January 2001 in Galway), but it was so long ago that I didn’t remember much but the premise and the ending. Which meant that almost no memories spoilt my present enjoyment of the novel. And enjoy it, I did! The novel opens with the heroine, Juliet Smythe-Clyde, being in male disguise and preparing for a duel with the Duke of Brabourne in her father’s stead. When she is wounded, she is forced to spend several days and nights in Brabourne’s house, who, of course, very quickly figures out that she is a girl. He’s intrigued by her courage and loyalty, yet at the same time he also regards her as very much of a nuisance – especially when the secret leaks out that she has spent time under his roof unchaperoned. He cannot help but feel sorry for her when she is ostracised by the ton. So he engages the help of his friends to restore her reputation in the eyes of society. Unfortunately, it seems as if this won’t be enough …
I liked the premise of this novel – hero shoots heroine in duel – oh my! -, and I very much enjoyed the development of Juliet and Brabourne’s relationship. They are both so determined not to get involved with each other, and they both have very good reasons to stay away from the other. It was great fun to see how they nevertheless gradually fell in love. (hehe)
Brabourne is a sexy, sensible man, with dark secrets of his own. He has got very good reasons why he does not want to marry and why he doesn’t trust women (okay, the usual reason…), but that said, he is never cruel to Juliet (hear that, you medieval jerk?). Even against his better judgment he is very much on her side throughout the whole novel.
Juliet is spunky and takes her responsibilities seriously. However, she behaves a bit like a ninny at times and tends to suffer from the historical-heroine-self-sacrifice-syndrome (especially in her insistence that she must protect her father at all costs so he can pursue his strange chemical experiments in peace). As irritating as this kind of behaviour was, it was nice to see that the hero acts as a corrective influence in that respect.
The happy ending could have been a bit more convincing, but all in all, Georgina Devon’s THE RAKE was a truly enjoyable read.