Novella Review: To All the Rakes I’ve Loved Before by Anne Barton

 

To All the Rakes I’ve Loved Before (A Honeycote Novella)

May Contain Spoilers

Review:

I have been gobbling up the novellas like crazy!  I have been so busy that I haven’t found a lot of time to read, so these shorter stories are perfect for me right now.  It’s like having my cake and eating it too.  With fewer calories!

I liked To All the Rakes I’ve Loved Before because Amelia is an unconventional character.  She’s been burned by love, publically humiliated, and been left wondering why she should ever put herself in that kind of situation again.  Her family isn’t well regarded by their peers, and her mother has developed a reputation for being a dragon.  Even Amelia finds her  difficult to deal with, and her endless insistence that she marry well gives her an upset stomach.  While her mother retires to the country to soothe her own frayed nerves, Amelia takes the opportunity to relax at home with a stout glass of port at her elbow and her beloved gossip rags in front of her.  When her peaceful vacation from her mother is disturbed by the arrival of an injured rake, she recklessly insists he remain in her care until he is well enough to return home.

The rake, Stephen, has been beaten by loan collectors because he’s behind on repaying gambling debts.  Even though he’s earned himself a poor reputation, he’s still concerned enough about his mother’s sensibilities that he doesn’t want her to know that he’s been beaten like a dog and left bleeding in the street.  When Amelia’s childhood friend seeks refuge for Stephen for the night, Amelia agrees.  She’ll finally have a chance to have some adventure in her life!  Besides, her mother is out of town and will never be the wiser.  During the most trying period of her life, Stephen showed her a kindness no one else would, so she feels like she owes him.  He is breathtakingly beautiful, under all of the gruesome bruises covering his face, so she can’t resist him.

I liked both protagonists.  Amelia doesn’t believe in happy ever afters, and she’s determined to remain out of society’s cruel view and stay forever single.  She doesn’t want a man telling her what to do, and she likes to occasionally let loose with an obscenity, which would be impossible with a proper husband around.  She’s happy writing in her diary and reading her gossip rags, at least until Stephen is brought, unconscious, into her home.   Then she starts to wonder what it would be like to be kissed by him and held in his arms.  Did I mention that he’s disgustingly attractive?  Add that to the soft spot Amelia still carries for him because of his gallantry during the worst day of her life, and she just can’t resist him.

Stephen, for his part, is charmed by Amelia.  She isn’t a simpering miss, and she says exactly what’s on her mind.  She’s also brutally honest about everything.  When he stumbles upon her diary, he knows it’s completely inappropriate, but he can’t help but read it.  When he’s finished, he thinks he knows exactly how to woo her.  He’s determined to change his wicked ways and make an honest woman of her, if she’ll have him, but Amelia has serious trust issues to deal with, and Stephen’s shady past keeps getting in the way. 

There’s just enough of a conflict to shake up their newfound friendship, but it’s not overly complicated.  It’s completely believable because it’s based  on a misunderstanding and a lack of trust on Amelia’s part, and Stephen, at first, has no idea what he did to earn her ire.  While I was just a teeny bit impatient with Amelia, she did listen to reason relatively quickly.  In all, this is a fast-paced story with a spirited heroine and a sweet but aimless hero.  Stephen just needed the right person to get him back on track, and Amelia needed to put aside her gossip rags and take another chance on life. 

Grade: B

Review copy provided by publisher

From Amazon:

A HONEYCOTE novella from award-winning author Anne Barton.

"Anne Barton is a delightful new voice in historical romance!"

–Tessa Dare, New York Times bestselling author on Once She Was Tempted

TO ALL THE RAKES I’VE LOVED BEFORE

After being jilted by her former beau, Miss Amelia Wimple retreated to her Mayfair town house and her ever-growing collection of gossips rags. Now, almost two years later, not even her beloved cousins, Rose and Olivia Sherbourne, can persuade her to give love another chance. But an unexpected midnight caller may open her heart once more.

Lord Stephen Brookes is the prince of pleasure, the duke of decadence-and it seems his exploits have finally caught up with him. When Stephen comes to Amelia seeking refuge, she can’t deny him . . . or the intense desire he sparks. As he attempts to heal her broken heart, they indulge in a private passion unlike anything either has experienced. Stephen knows sweet, sensual Amelia is meant to be his one and only. Now, he will do whatever it takes to convince her that a rake really can change his ways.