Friday, January 20, 2012
Review: The Taming of the Rake by Kasey Michaels (5 stars, historical)
Full Description: Amazon
Rating: 5 out of 5
Thoughts After Reading: My life has gone back to being a bit busy, so it was a great feeling to have enough time (more or less) once again to read a full novel. I tried some novellas off Amazon in the interim, but the writing in them seems to be almost universally terrible.
Anyway: Romance-while-on-a-traveling-adventure, if done correctly, is hands down my favorite theme. It's probably the most realistic scenario of two people learning enough about each other to fall in love over a short period of time. Luckily, The Taming of the Rake is most assuredly done correctly. I was a bit worried from the description that it would be a revenge plot, but that was only a small factor for most the storyline. The heroine stands out as being too intelligent for her own good, and having a slightly sharp tongue at times as a result. At the same time, however, the reader is privy to the fact that behind her strong facade is a caring and sometimes uncertain woman. The hero is only a bastard in the most literal sense of the word, and has a personality of a gentleman that goes far beyond compromises and the like. I'm not sure where Michaels came up with the title, since the hero is hardly a rake, but I guess the pun was too much to pass up.
The prologue sets up the story very well. The hero and heroine knew each other seven years before, when the hero was basically a young dandy and heroine was the mischievous younger sister to the beautiful woman he was infatuated with. The hero has been recognized since birth with most of the privileges of a gentleman, but is widely known as a bastard. It turns out that the heroine's sister has been playing with the hero's attentions, but would never be with him because of his birth. The heroine's brother also scorns the hero for being a bastard, and whips him for his (in reality fairly chaste) involvement with heroine's sister. Now the heroine comes to hero when she runs away to avoid a horrid marriage arranged by her brother (currently an earl). She blames the hero a bit for her situation, since he's been financially ruining the heroine's brother in revenge. She also knows that the ultimate revenge for him would be to marry into her titled family. The hero is not impervious to the heroine or her plight, and ends up going along with the scheme. Thus begins their journey to Gretna Green, all the while avoiding the pursuing brother and would-be husband. Much of the dialogue and inner thoughts of the characters are hilariously funny, complete with a little witty banter between the couple. The hero and heroine play off each other frequently, often with a sarcastic tone, in a fashion that resembles real life remarkably well. Even the love scenes held some humor with the heroine's unusual thoughts and reactions. At the same time however, there are some dark tones such as the hero's place in society and family issues of both characters. I enjoyed the progression of the romance: the hero and heroine enjoying each other's company, being impressed with each other's competence along the journey, the caring nature the heroine shows towards the hero, and the level of importance they become to each other. A personal complaint I had was that I felt they started making love a little early in the relationship, even though they had begun falling in love and were planning to marry. It wasn't that they didn't recognize the feelings of love fairly readily, but both of them (especially the hero) had trouble actually making the statements out loud. This conflict did, admittedly, allow for a final resolution to the romance plot. Overall, it was book where there were some imperfections, but the pros far outweighed the cons.