Disinherited and disgraced, Reginald Davenport’s prospects cried for a dire end. But fate has given him one last chance at redemption – by taking his rightful place as the heir of Strickland, his lost ancestral estate. Davenport knows his way around women, yet nothing prepares him for his shocking encounter with Lady Alys Weston. 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 – until Strickland’s restored owner awakens a passion she thought she would never feel. A passion that will doom or save them both …if only they can overcome their pasts…
Review: The Rake was previously released back in 1989 as The Rake and the Reformer. A note by the author at the end states that the hero, Reggie Davenport was a minor character in a book called The Diabolical Baron, even though The Rake is not listed as being part of a series. From what I can tell by a quick web search, it looks like perhaps this first book is out of print. While I wasn’t completely lost by not having read The Diabolical Baron, references and comments made throughout the entire story led me to believe I was only getting a small glimpse into Reggie’s past. In fact, Reggie was thought of in very unflattering terms which played a huge role in the plot of this novel but aside from the alcoholism, the reader does not witness much of this alleged behavior in this particular story.
Having been left with the feeling that I was missing something, it took me a while to actually get into the story and feel any sort of connection with the characters. However, this all changed once I reached the second half of the book, the plot and romance finally started to heat up and I eagerly turned every page from that point on. It was with vivid clarity that we watched Reggie overcome his demons and learn of incidents long forgotten that all came crashing back to him. I cheered when he took those crucial steps to get his life on track and then sighed when all the hard work crumbled down around him.
Lady Alys could definitely be called character all unto herself. She was a strong, independent woman who was battling her own insecurities. Having run away from a marriage she did not want and a father who was trying to force her to his will, she goes into hiding working a few positions until she lands the job of steward for Strickland, which a few years later during this story that Reggie inherits. Imagine his surprise learning that the successful steward of his estate is none other than a woman, a very tall, intelligent, beautiful woman who doesn’t know her own appeal.
Overall, once I got beyond the first half and was able to really get involved, I greatly enjoyed this reissue of Ms. Putney’s. Actually, I will have to see if I can get a hold of a copy of the The Diabolical Baron. I’m really curious to see how much of a villain Reggie really was.