Desert Isle Keeper Review

Never Romance a Rake

Liz Carlyle
2008, European Historical Romance (1820s England)
Pocket Books, $7.99, 402 pages, Amazon ASIN 1416527168
Part of a series

Grade: A-
Sensuality: Hot

The last book I read was destined for my keeper shelf, so itís bizarre to me that this one should be as well. Itís actually somewhat difficult to be objective about grading two such books, because naturally they have great differences between them. At first I thought Never Romance a Rake was not quite a DIK (I mean, how often do you randomly read two fantastic books in a row?), but since putting it down, it has only grown on me and I canít stop thinking about it. The writing is practically flawless and the relationship development superb. If youíre a fan of angsty historicals, get your hands on Carlyleís latest.

Kieran may have inherited the title of Lord Rothewell, but heís never claimed to be a gentleman. In fact, he mostly stays away from proper society, instead spending his time at the most scandalous bawdy houses and most depraved gaming hells. In the middle of yet another deep game with a table of debauched men, he finds the stakes raised to a disgusting level. The Comte de Valigny, host of the gathering, drags his beautiful, bastard daughter to the table and wagers the right to marry her and receive her generous dowry.

Shocked by the comteís audacity, Kieran is about to stop the charade when he realizes that the woman is not fighting it. He has absolutely no desire to marry, but Kieran simply canít throw the woman to the lecherous lord intent on winning her. He makes sure that he wins and then takes the woman aside to explain that she doesnít have to marry him. Rather than the relief heís expecting, she turns the tables on him and offers him a deal of her own. If he will continue with the betrothal and get her pregnant, she will pay him considerably more than her dowry.

Camille Marchand thinks she knows everything about men. Growing up in France with her distant, frivolous mother, she saw quite a few men wander through her house and knows what came of depending upon a rake. She and her mother counted on the Comte of Valigny but while he provided for them, he never made them a true family and her mother eventually died of depression and alcoholism. Camille has promised herself that she will never give a man as much power as her mother did, but she does need one in order to collect her grandfatherís inheritance, which she will receive only after she is married and has also produced a child. Unfortunately, she has no reputation to speak of in England since her mother scandalously fled the country with her lover as her aristocratic husband lay dying after a duel fought in her honor. Camille now has no choice but to ask her loathed father for help and, because there is no time left, accept whatever man she can get. She willingly enters into the betrothal, assuming that sheíll be able to handle Rothewell, since sheís known many men of his ilk. What she doesnít count on is her uncontrollable reaction to him.

These characters display many layers. At first Camille comes across as a cold, calculating woman, but as time goes on, her character reveals an appealing amount of strength and resilience. After surviving a horrific childhood, Kieran is a troubled hero who is chivalrous at his core. Itís a treat to watch the two start to care about each other, learn to trust each other, and finally fall in love. The relationship development is one of the great strengths of this book. I didnít find any aspects of the relationship lacking because the book is devoted to it. There wasnít a mystery to solve or any other storyline to detract from the main goal; instead any subplot simply added to the romance.

Never Romance a Rake is the final book in a trilogy, but it can stand alone. In fact, I havenít read any of the other books, but you can bet that Iím going to now. This isnít a light, fast read nor is it flashy or overly exciting. Itís a leisurely, deep, well-written story about two emotionally-scarred characters who find love. At times it took me a while to re-absorb myself in the book, but watching the subtle build-up of a sweet romance made it worth any minor effort involved. I might not return to this book as often as I would other keepers, but it certainly deserves an A. Iíve had some incredible luck with the historicals Iíve read lately and Iím crossing my fingers that it lasts a while longer.

-- Andi Davis

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