Review: The Taming of the Rake by Kasey Michaels

The Taming of the Rake by Kasey Michaels
Series: Blackthorn Brothers (#1)
Release Date: July 26, 2011
Publisher: Harlequin
Page Count: 384
Source: ARC provided by NetGalley for review

Meet the Blackthorn brothers— Three unrepentant scoundrels infamous for being mad, bad and perilous to love Charming, wealthy and wickedly handsome, Oliver “Beau” Blackthorn has it all…except revenge on the enemy he can’t forget. Now the opportunity for retribution has fallen into his hands. But his success hinges on Lady Chelsea Mills–Beckman—the one woman with the power to distract him from his quest.

Desperate to escape her family’s control, Lady Chelsea seizes the chance to run off with the notorious eldest Blackthorn brother, knowing she’s only a pawn in his game. But as Beau draws her deep into a world of intrigue, danger and explosive passion, does she dare hope he’ll choose love over vengeance?


Review:  I am a fan of Kasey Michaels, so when I had a chance to read her new historical series, I grabbed it.  The premise for this series is quite interesting.  The Blackthorne brothers are all bastards… literally.  Their father is an earl and their mother is an actress who abandoned them pretty early in life.  Their father raised them, provided everything the boys could ever want… except to be legal heirs.

So in this first book in the series, Beau has become a jaded man.  He had his heart stomped on when he thought he was in love with a young lady, but came to find out she’d just been using him as a fling.  That was the first time that his being a “bastard” really hit home to how the circumstances of his birth affect his place in society.  Jump about 7 years forward and Beau is recovering from a night out on the town with his brother when Chelsea appears on his doorstep as she’s on the run from her brother and his horrible matchmaking skills.  Beau hasn’t seen Chelsea since the day her sister broke his heart.  Chelsea has a plan to get back at her siblings.  Defy her brother and society by running off to Gretna Green with Beau.  The story follow Chelsea and Beau on their flight to Scotland, as well as her siblings and thwarted fiance’s chase after them.  Of course, nothing can go smoothly for anyone on this journey.  Beau is called home for a family emergency.  Then they run into a young couple eloping and decide to help them out.  And there’s the ever present threat of Chelsea’s family who is just one step behind.

All the twists and turns make for this book to be an enjoyable read.  I always seemed to be at the edge of my seat, anxiously turning pages to see how they would get out of their next predicament.  I’ll admit by the end, I was starting to think “enough already”.  How many roadblocks can one couple face?  And then the final showdown between Beau and Chelsea’s brother… well, it was on the anticlimactic side after all the build up.

And the characters… the romance between Chelsea and Beau was fun to watch and to root them on.  Both are so stubborn, the reader is on pins and needles waiting to see who is going to budge first.  However, the villains of the story just seemed to be a bit too extreme for my tastes.  I couldn’t stand the role of the would-be fiance.  He’s a religious nut-job and even from the page, made my skin crawl every time he appeared.  And Chelsea’s brother is a weak worm of a man, at the point where he can’t think for himself anymore and find himself essentially under the control of his “pastor”.  And when Chelsea’s sister makes and appearance, she may have been the most sane person of the trio, but she too was written as just an extreme character that I kept wishing that the carriage carrying the three of them would just be incinerated by a random asteroid falling to earth.

All that said, I really enjoyed the book whenever the “villains” were off-stage and then sped through their scenes to get back to the real story.  And I’m looking forward to seeing where Ms. Michaels takes this series.

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