Review: Lord of the Rakes by Darcie Wilde

lord of the rakesReviewed by Janell

I am conflicted about this book, but I’ll start off by telling you everything that I felt was done right.

Lady Caroline has grown up in the country. Her father — and after his death, her brother — never let her go to London, claiming that she didn’t have the constitution or moral character to handle city life. Her mother, you see, used to be a lovely socialite, but at some point she became ill, and was confined to rest, and given medication, and she never really left the house again. Her mother told Caroline many stories about London, and Caroline grew up wishing to be free, to escape the house and do whatever she wants.

The story opens after Caroline has received a letter that her trust fund is doing quite well. The trust fund that she was not aware of. Her mother had an inheritance, and left it to Caroline, but her father (and then brother) kept it a secret from her so that she wouldn’t go off and do crazy things with her independence. Since her choices are to either stay trapped or run away, Caroline runs away to London.

She plans to stay in town only for a few weeks, to be a bridesmaid to her friend, and then to run off to France so that her brother can’t force her back home or marry her off. Marriage would mean the loss of her freedom, so she is definitely not into that. She tells her friend that, since she never plans to marry, she might take a lover. It’s not like she’s overly concerned about her reputation.

Philip Montcalm is a second son, and is known as the Lord of the Rakes, because he takes a lot of lovers. As his story opens, he’s just been jilted, and he’s feeling rather dissatisfied with his lifestyle. His father gives him plenty of money, but the balls and the gambling are feeling a bit tedious.

Caroline and Philip meet during one of the longest ballroom scenes I’ve ever read. They make eyes at each other, and then Caroline sends him a note to meet her outside! Once they’re tucked away on a park bench, they talk of seduction, and they kiss, and it’s pretty spectacular for both of them.

I really liked the premise. A girl kept away from society by her ill-tempered father and brother finally gets a shot at freedom! Oh the fun she could have! Given that she had so little society experience (she’d been to some country house parties and listened to gossip), I was surprised at how quickly she sought out a man, and then at how bluntly she stated her intentions. It wasn’t quite the shy, blushing, innuendo-laden conversation that I was expecting.

But then. Philip comes to her house the next night and takes her virginity while he has her begging and calling him Master.

I don’t read Dom/sub books, they’re not my thing. So this could just be my ignorance speaking, but I was really surprised that a reasonably sheltered sexual novice would so quickly go along with that type of game. Maybe I’m placing too much importance on her virginity, but it just seemed like such a leap.

During their next encounter, in an empty room during a musical performance, Philip calls Caroline wicked, and has her tell him all about her wicked thoughts while he takes her up against a wall. Again, I didn’t think she would be so comfortable with that sort of language. But maybe Philip is just that overwhelming, and maybe I’m just an ignorant prude. I won’t even bother wondering how calling sexual thoughts “wicked” affects the psychology of a newly sexual woman, because maybe it’s all just games, and maybe wicked is a good thing, and she certainly doesn’t seem ashamed anyway.

My last thought on the matter is that I expected a little more explanation about why Philip needed to be in control so much. His lifestyle is pretty much him doing whatever he wants, and aside from his father telling him to be a “real man,” I didn’t pick up any other clues. Like I said, this isn’t my genre of books, so I don’t know if the Dom thing is supposed to be explained, somehow related to the non-sexual part of his life, or if it’s just a regular personality type.

The romance progresses backwards, from sex to emotional intimacy, but I found it believable. The writing was beautiful, and the resolution was sweet. If I hadn’t been so thrown off by the “call me Master” stuff, I might have swooned. If you don’t mind kinky sex mixed in with your Regency novel, then you should really enjoy this. I’m on the fence, so I give it a straight B.

*ARC Provided by Berkley

Click to purchase: Amazon

Lord of the Rakes
by Darcie Wilde
Release Date: February 4, 2014
Publisher: Berkley

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