Opening Line: “When two gentlemen are related by blood, they do not usually address each other with formality.”
Based on all the glowing reviews and accolades THE RAKE has received I was really looking forward to sinking my teeth into this regency romance. And I guess because I’d heard so many good things I was a little surprised at well, frankly how dull this was. Even with Putney’s great writing, attention to detail and a reprobate bad boy as our hero this was a bit of a grind to get through.
My main issue was the tedious and repetitive descriptions of the day to day activities taking place at the estate. Sure I appreciate the research that must have gone into the time period and it was interesting to a degree but it was also too much. I kept waiting for something, anything to happen but it was just endless talk and dinners and details of farm life. The steam factor was also very low and even at the end I still felt like Reggie and Alys were more friends than lovers and don’t even get me started on the “letting you go because you’re too good for me” trope.
This really should have been titled “The Alcoholic” because Reggie is a very successful one, as a rake however he fails. We are told (continuously) about his rakish behaviour but he doesn’t often exhibit any. He’s basically just a drunk who makes questionable decisions while drunk. All his other choices are ethical and kinda heroic. He just allows people to think the worst of him, adding to his disgraced reputation which for whatever reason he seems to covet.
I will say though that it was refreshing to have an alcoholic as the leading man and I found the sections where he’s craving a drink and bargaining with himself (just one, I can stop any time) very well done. It does get a little preachy but Bill W would be proud.
Ayls Weston is running from her past, masquerading as a man in order to maintain her position as the (successful) estate manager of Strickland manor. All that’s about to change however when Reginald Davenport comes home, taking his place as the rightful master of his family estate. After extensive (see tedious) exploration of the grounds, Reggie decides to keep Alys on as steward and over time the pair realize they have much in common. Reggie is also on the run, trying to escape several decades’ worth of drink and debauchery in London which as of late has been causing him to experience blackouts. He just needs a rest, and Strickland will be perfect. When a fire destroys the steward house Alys and her wards move into the big house and a romance that could save them both takes hold.
First published in 1989 (THE RAKE AND THE REFORMER) stands up well by todays romance standards and I would consider it a must read for the genre, especially since I seem to be in the minority with my feelings. Cheers