Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Mary Jo Putney: The Rake


The Rake
(Previously published as The Rake and the Reformer)

Sequel to: The Diabolical Baron
Author: Mary Jo Putney
Release Date: April 1, 1998
List Price: Retail unavailable - buy used

Read: July 28-28, 2009
My Rating:

Author Homepage | Book Page | Excerpt |

SUMMARY (from back cover)
~ The Rake ~
It was predicted that Reginald Davenport, disinherited and disgraced, would come to a violent end. But fate has given him one final chance to redeem himself, by taking his place as the rightful master of Strickland, his lost ancestral estate. Davenport knows his way around women - yet nothing prepares him for his shocking encounter with Lady Alys Weston.

~ The Reformer ~
Masquerading as a man in order to obtain a position as estate manager of Strickland, Alys fled a world filled with mistrust and betrayal. She was finished with men - yet how could she have predicted that Strickland's restored owner would awaken a passion more powerful than anything she had ever known? A passion that will doom or save them both ... if only they can overcome their pasts and dare to believe in the wondrous power of love ...

The Rake is the sequel to The Diabolical Baron and Reggie (this book's hero) is apparently that book's villain. I haven't read it, but I feel like it would probably enhance the experience of reading The Rake, since it will make his eventual transformation all the more notable.

Mary Jo Putney is one of the authors who released a book on June 30 - an apparent blockbuster day for the historical romance industry, because at my last count there were 8 books that came out that day!!

Putney released Loving a Lost Lord, the kickoff to her new series entitled "The Lost Lords" and I was really looking forward to the book because I had just recently reread The Wild Child (Brides Trilogy, Book 1) (really great and I highly recommend). Along with most people who read Loving a Lost Lord ... let's just say I was not impressed, and frankly downright disappointed! Seriously, that was one of the worst historical romances I had read in awhile and after joining PaperBack Swap I immediately posted it (and it was immediately requested - I have to wonder how long it stayed in that person's hands after they finished reading it).

I've read other Putney books - Silk and Shadows (Silk Trilogy, Book 1); The Bargain (Regency Series, Book 1); Thunder and Roses (Fallen Angels Series, Book 1) - (just now noticing they're all Book 1s), but since I read these before I started writing down my ratings after reading a book, I could not remember whether I liked them or not. I read about her book The Rake and since it had such great reviews, I decided to use the credit I got for sending out Putney's new book to get this older book of hers from someone else on PaperBack Swap.

So what did I think? ... Absolutely utterly fantastic!! Wow - a definite reread. Completely distracted me from my homework, but it was just so wonderful. I was glad to read a good Putney book after finding her most recent release pretty weak. The Rake, however, is not weak at all, but rather completely 100% great!!!

One of the greatest things about this book was that it tackled the very serious issue of alcoholism extremely well, dealt with it compassionately, and portrayed it very vividly/starkly. I *never* get emotional when I read my historical romances (unless it's extreme giddiness, lol), but there were parts of this book that were utterly heart-wrenching and had me choking up just a little.

The other great aspect of the story was (as it should be) the relationship between Alys and Reggie. It was very well developed and the intellectual/emotional connection between them was wonderfully written. It's a romance, so obviously there is romance and the hero and heroine have great physical chemistry, but the book focuses on much more than just that aspect. They are complete opposites starting off - Reggie is one of the most dissolute and disgraceful rakes that I have ever come across in the genre (that's saying something) and Alys is a hardworking, admirable, very responsible, reserved, and almost-stern woman. They're both extremely lonely, though, and it's great watching them not wham-bam fall-in-love, but see it slowly happen as they come to like, respect, admire, and trust each other and form a wonderful and - dare I say it? it's so corny - beautiful friendship.

The heroine is not a virgin, but if you're bothered by this, don't be and don't let it make you skip this book! I'm very embarassed to admit this - I feel like it's anti-feminist and very old-fashioned - but I usually like my historical romance heroines to be virgins. Basically, I don't want the heroine (or hero, for that matter) to have had any strong previous attachments.

If you're like me, don't be turned off by the fact that Alys isn't a virgin - the event which propels her to run away from home is the foundation of her own obstacles that she has to overcome in the book (low self-esteem in her attractiveness and appeal as a woman) and makes her engage in a one-night stand with a drunken man she meets in the inn, right after she's run away. It's not a big thing so seriously, do not be put off by this!

Like I wrote above, I thought this book dealt excellently with the issue of alcoholism. I think a lot of times in this genre, books sometimes include serious issues but they don't really address it full or kind of skirt the issue - perhaps out of a fear it will be too much of a downer in what is basically supposed to be a feel-good book.

Either way, although Putney treats the problem seriously - as it should be - it only enhances the story and main characters and in no way detracts. Another great book I've read that features an alcoholic hero who has to overcome the problem is Rexanne Becnel's The Matchmaker (Maker Series, Book 1); it's a five-star read in my book and one of my favorites, so I would recommend to anyone, whether you're looking specifically for another alcoholism-related book or not.

Lisa Kleypas's Again the Magic has a secondary romance between the heroine's sister, Olivia, and the hero's best friend, Gideon Shaw. Gideon is an alcoholic who goes through spells where he has to isolate himself and his developing relationship with Olivia gives him the initiative/final push to make the leap towards sobriety.

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