Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Mini-view: A Rake's Guide to Pleasure (Huntington #2) - Victoria Dahl

True Pleasure. . .
Raised by a titled, yet degenerate, father, Emma Jensen never imagined the gambling lessons she learned as a child would one day serve her well. When she finds herself in dire need of money, she concocts the alias of Dowager Lady Denmore and sets off to bewitch London's noblemen by engaging them in games of chance. The fact that respectable ladies do not gamble does not intimidate her in the least. But the darkly handsome Duke of Somerhart does--for he's awakened a deep, sensual hunger in her. . .  
Is Always Worth The Gamble. . .
The dashing Duke of Somerhart has the notorious reputation of being one of London's most incurable rogues. When he meets the alluring Lady Denmore, he is immediately intrigued. Her recklessness and innocence intertwined titillates him as no other woman ever has. But what secret is the lovely Lady Denmore hiding? He's determined to find out. But first he must seduce her until she surrenders completely to his most wicked desires...

Victoria Dahl is a force to be reckoned with and her contemporary romances are amongst my favourites and any new releases are an automatic read for me. Having just released a new novel in her Jackson series that I can't seem to get hold of in the libraries or on the Kindle over here (grrr...), I decided to pick up one of her early, historical romance novels in its place. 

I initially read the first in this series a while a go and remember not really being all that bothered by it which is why it took me a so long to pick up A Rake's Guide to Pleasure, the second in the Huntington series.

I was pleasantly surprised by this novel, as I said I wasn't expecting much going in but I really did enjoy it.  I found Emma to be a strong and yet realistic heroine, a balance that can sometimes be a little hard to strike without coming across as smug. Although a tad more masterful than some heroes, Dahl's rake also nicely straddles (ha) the line between dominant and overbearing. The relationship was also nicely paced in the novel, with the first hints of attraction handled exceptionally well (my heart definitely did a pitter-patter at more than one point). 

The suspense element of the novel was well done, and is much more of a realistic threat than can be found in a lot of historical romance novels, although it is a little reminiscent of the more carefully honed threat in Dahl's later contemporary novel Talk Me Down. While I enjoyed the human and emotional aspect of the threat presented in the novel I thought that the resolution was a little too dramatic and a bit hammy, but to be honest I often find this to be the case.

Finally, Dahl is known for being the Queen of Steam (well, if she isn't she sure should be) with really well crafted sex scenes that manage to tread that fine line between clinical and saccharine. A Rake's Guide to Pleasure is clearly an earlier work in this regard, or maybe a little more sedate due to the period, but Dahl's signature touch still creeps through with enough heat to make you blush.

My only real issue with the book is that Emma's background and motivation is slowly revealed throughout the novel in an attempt to tease and entice the reader, however, this is not done all that well and I found it more confusing and frustrating than I did illuminating.

While I think that Dahl's strength is definitely in the contemporary romance genre, A Rake's Guide to Pleasure is still a book I would more than happily recommend. If you've never read one of Victoria Dahl's novels I think this is an excellent one to ease yourself into her style and definitely one for those of you who don't enjoy contemporary romance but still want to try one of my favourite authors (hint hint). 

P.S. As an amusing side note I went to grab the blurb for the book off Goodreads, as I usually do, only to find this: "A bankrupt woman sets out to bewitch London's noblemen by engaging them in games of chance. She soon titillates a dashing duke, who is determined to discover her secrets--and capture her heart. Original." - Someone's clearly not a fan. Perhaps not a book for everyone then...

UPDATE: A Rake's Guide to Pleasure is currently only £1.83 for the Kindle on or $2.92 at - now you've no excuse not to go snap this up!

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