Michaels, Kasey. The Taming of the Rake* (2011). 384 Pages. HQN Books. $7.99**
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?
“Men have died from time to time, and worms have eaten them, but not for love.” – As You Like It, William Shakespeare
Oliver Le Beau Blackthorn was young and in love, which made him a candidate for less than intelligent behavior on two counts.
And so it was that, with the clouded vision of a man besotted, that same Oliver Le Beau Blackthorn, raised to think quite highly of himself, the equal to all men, did, with hat figuratively in hand, hope in his heart and a bunch of posies clutched to his breast, bound up the marble steps to the mansion in Portland Place one find spring morning and smartly rap the massive door with the lion’s head brass knocker.
Who doesn’t love a good historical romance? Wait, don’t answer that, I’m aware that there are quite a few people in the world who truly don’t enjoy either romance novels, or the historical romance subgenre. Luckily, I love it.
First, the gripes, because there are only a few. I’m not such a fan of the cover on this one though; not only is the main character never in a blue dress, the dude looks rather silly in his frilly shirt. But whatever, I didn’t actually judge this one on its cover. I judged it by its title, and I have to say that Beau Blackthorn wasn’t as Rake-ish as I was expecting.
However, the cover and title are my only real gripes with this book. I loved the characters, and the plot. I felt like the characters were growing and changing from the beginning to the end, and that there was actually chemistry between our hero and heroine.
The story starts strong, with Oliver Le Beau Blackthorn doing something stupid. Life moves on, things happen, and we come back several years later to find that while circumstances have changed, social positions have not. Beau won himself some honor and respect in The War, but remains a bastard. Lady Madelyn has been married off, and Lady Chelsea has grown. It’s when Chelsea approaches Beau with a harebrained scheme that the story really gets moving.
Soon, Beau and Chelsea are making a mad dash to the border– and Gretna Green***– so she can escape her brother’s plans for her, and he can have some revenge. Things don’t go quite as planned, and they find themselves floundering about a bit, but they eventually get back on track.
As I said before, I felt like the characters were growing and changing. Chelsea learns a bit about herself, and a lot about Beau. Meanwhile, Beau learns quite a bit about both himself and Chelsea. Some of the decisions they make toward the end of the book represent major deviations from choices they’d have made at the beginning, but it rather felt like it made sense based upon what had happened in the intervening time.
Where sometimes I feel the need to inhale a book in a single sitting, and it costs me hours of sleep, I found that I could put this one down. Not because it was boring, but because it was paced in such a way that it was possible to look away without feeling like you could miss something. It wasn’t a breathless race to the finish– not for the reader anyway– but instead it was a relaxing read which enabled me to appreciate the intricacies of the perspective shifts and character growth.
I really enjoyed this particular novel, and will certainly be picking up a few more by this author– I look forward to reading about Beau’s brothers in the upcoming novels. This title earns a 4/5 for being a good read. If you like regency romance, you should certainly pick it up.
* Yes, that is a Shakespeare reference. The book is rife with them, and that made me adore it even more. We’ve already proven I love books with a hint (or ten) of classical literature geekiness.
** Please be aware that this title was received free through Netgalley.
*** Gretna Green seems to be a staple of novels set in this era, but I don’t believe I’ve ever read about two characters actually making a run for it.