Saturday, 27 April 2013

Review: The Rake (Lessons in Love #1) - Suzanne Enoch

Three determined young ladies vow to give three of London's worst rakes their comeuppance -- but when these rogues turn the tables, who truly learns a lesson in love? 
Once upon a time, the notorious Viscount Dare charmed Lady Georgiana Halley out of her innocence -- to win a wager, no less! -- and now he must pay dearly. The, plan is simple: She will use every seductive wile she knows to win Dare's heart...and then break it. But his smoldering gaze once again tempts Georgiana to give in to desire -- and when he astonishes her with a marriage proposal, she wonders: Is he playing yet another game...or could it truly be love this time?

First things first we're going to commit a cardinal sin, you excited? Good. Now, what is with this cover? This is the cover of the very edition I read and I can tell you that I almost didn't, I mean look at it! I remember my Gran had some old romance novels that she kept hidden in her bedside drawer with covers that looked exactly like that, it definitely looks like something from the '80s. Considering Enoch's book was first published in 2002 the cover is more surprising. Honestly, I think it is covers like this which help give romance novels a bad name, especially when it is horrifically inaccurate given the books setting and content. Oh well, never-mind, we don't judge book by their covers anyway so let's get on to more important things.

I do seem to be on a big historical romance kick at the moment, Enoch's The Rake being my 9th in as many days (no, I am not bragging I have many an important thing to do believe me, hence all the procrastination). Reading the synopsis I started Rake with more than a little trepidation, how was Enoch going to make a hero such as Dare sympathetic? But as usual, the synopsis doesn't give all the important details.

I actually thought the novel had a lot of potential and it certainly started off well. Six years after Viscount Dare seduces Georgiana she decides to make him the object of her lessons in chivalry. The whole ton knows of the animosity between Georgiana and Dare and there are plenty of opportunities for witty barbed exchanges between the two. However, for some reason I felt a bit disappointed with the direction of the plot. Some details were adorably sweet (fans is all I shall say) and others had no anchor at all. Part of Georgiana's plot involves her moving into Dare's family home, which with its rag-tag collection of relatives is an enjoyable side to the novel (I guarantee you'll fall for reclusive war hero 'Bit' and the youngest brother, Edward) and Georgiana's friends and relatives all feature in Enoch's novels. On that point, however, I found it strange that considering their appearance in the next two novels we learnt very little of Georgiana's friends, particularly Evie whose book is the second in the series.

Considering that the plot is centred around the events of six years prior I found it strange that Enoch chose not to include a prologue featuring these events which would have given us more insight into the characters motivations and feelings - an essential addition I feel. I also learnt something about myself while reading the book, I had thought that I hated the cheesy five page epilogue featuring the happy couple (usually nine) months later, invariably with progeny in tow, however with the absence in Enoch's novel, especially following a rather abrupt ending, I really felt the loss.

Over all the book wasn't bad, I actually did quite enjoy it. Dare and Georgiana's love/hate relationship leads to plenty of sparks and the supporting characters are all pleasant additions, although rushed at times. The necessary tension and peril the characters find themselves in was believable and different enough to keep me entertained. The ending was a bit bizarre and I would have gone about it a different way but alls well that ends well I guess.

I did find myself a little disappointed at times, I felt had events in certain places been a little different the book would have benefitted considerably. I definitely enjoyed it enough to give the other two books in the series a go, although I am hesitant about the second.

My only real concern over Enoch's novel is her lack of historical detail, were it not for the mention of certain notable persons (a personal bugbear of mine actually) and the occasional, occasional, period dress reference was I able to place the novel in its early regency setting. Enoch, like other historical romance authors, seems to have picked an historical setting merely to add an element of romance and chivalry, not due to any respect or interest in the era. It seems that only minor alterations would be needed to make the novel a contemporary romance, if you're going to write a historical romance revel in it. Also, briefly, Enoch is carrying on this bizarre tradition of staring each chapter with a quote, in this instance arbitrary Shakespeare quotes that were seemingly supposed to reflect the contents of the chapter. In my opinion these add nothing to the novel and only served to distract me as I attempted to unravel the significance of each quote at the beginning of the chapter. Instead of googling "shakespeare quotes, conflict" Enoch would have been better off reading up on period dress and hair.

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