Review: A Rake’s Guide to Seduction
A Rake’s Guide to Seduction is the third book in Caroline Linden‘s series about the Reece family. I haven’t read the earlier books yet, but after finishing Rake I fully intend to do so, funds permitting. I was fortunate to receive an old ARC of this book from the lovely Ms. Linden, so any differences between the review and the published version are probably due to that. I’m not senile quite yet.
Lady Celia Reece, is the daughter of the late Duke of Exeter and the younger sister of Marcus and David Reece from What a Gentleman Wants and What a Rogue Desires respectively. Mr. Anthony Hamilton is a notorious rake and the infamously outcast son of the Earl of Lyndley. As an old school friend of David Reece, Anthony has known Celia for most of her life, though they’ve never been noticeably close due to the age gap and the patent dislike Rosalind, Celia’s mother, holds for Anthony.
A chance encounter on a balcony and a rescue from the Worst Proposal Ever™ awaken Anthony to the fact that Celia is all grown up and no longer the eight-year-old who wanted to tag along fishing. So much so, in fact, that he can’t stop thinking about her, even with the lovely Lady Drummond to keep him company.
Sadly, it seems that Anthony is the only one who has been so affected; by the time he drums up the courage to ask Marcus for permission to pay court to Celia, the lady in question has already given her heart and hand to Lord Andrew Bertram. The marriage does not go well for Celia or Bertram, and four years later a widowed Celia
is dragged back by her mother returns from Bertram’s family estate in Cumberland a shadow of her former self.
After a brief visit to the Exeter house in London and the promise of tonnish delights fail to raise Celia’s spirits, her mother organises a house party at the Exeter estate in Kent. Though David and Anthony have drifted apart over the years of Celia’s marriage, Anthony is included in the guest list at David’s behest, much to Rosalind’s displeasure. An anonymous attempt to lighten Celia’s melancholy quickly leads to candid revelations, and perhaps something more…
I have to say, freebie aside, I enjoyed this story immensely. It is a fun, lighthearted romance without any extended Dramatic Plot Lines and with some nicely hot sex scenes and a feel-good ending.
Celia begins the story as a rather selfish, immature debutante afraid of admitting her mistakes, and over the course of the story grows into a mature woman who is not afraid to face her family’s disapproval to keep the happiness that she’s finally found. I very much liked that Celia did not immediately rush into the oft-seen trap that marriage is The Answer To All Life’s Problems, at least the second time around, and that she learnt enough from her earlier mistakes to be wary of repeating them.
Anthony was an overall sympathetic character, with just enough rakish charm that the appeal is obvious without having to read chapter and verse about all the young ladies fluttering over him. I enjoyed the gossiping about his notorious past and torrid love-life, though it might have been nice to see a little more of that first-hand while Celia was out of the picture. The Misunderstood Hero probably has its own page on TvTropes by now, but I felt that overall it was handled well in this case, and Anthony certainly didn’t lament his wicked reputation.
It was also refreshing to see a character who is not the infamous Virgin Widow that seems to exist in every Silhouette, Harlequin or Mills and Boon historical romance featuring a widowed heroine.
The time-jump between Celia’s first marriage and her return to her family was handled quite nicely with smattering of entries from Celia’s diary during her marriage to Bertram. If it’s a mechanism I’ve come across before then it didn’t have sufficient impact for me to remember it. I suspect if the ‘diary entries’ had been any less succinct, it would have gotten annoying, but as it stands I prefer this to trying to fit all of the missing back-story into the first few pages after the jump forward.
Did I mention the sex scenes were hot?
The Dramatic Plot at the end of the story felt a little tacked-on, as it didn’t really tie into anything that had happened earlier – in fact, I didn’t even connect Ms. F’s name to her first appearance at first despite reading the book in one sitting over a few hours – but it was neatly wrapped up without too much overdone drama or Tragic Misunderstandings and did serve to add a little spice to what might have been an overlong Happily Ever After otherwise.
Overall, I very much enjoyed this book, and would happily – perhaps even heartily – recommend it.