How to Romance a RakeBy Manda Collins
Ugly Ducklings #2
Publisher: St. Martin’s
Release Date: July 31, 2012
Lord Alec Deveril has spent the years since he left university living his life in a manner that will prove he is not his father’s son in character and behavior. Once shunned as the offspring of Devil Deveril, he is now the epitome of all that a gentleman should be. In fact, his life is such perfection that he’s beginning to be rather bored with it. But his ennui vanishes once his life becomes entangled with that of Miss Juliet Shelby. First he decides that Miss Shelby’s limp is no reason to keep her from dancing, this evoking the wrath of her mother. Then, he’s pulled into the matter of the mysterious disappearance of Miss Shelby’s friend and former music teacher. He tells himself that Juliet can jeopardize his plans for a civil marriage based on a tepid liking, and he’d best avoid her. There’s certainly nothing tepid about the feelings she inspires.
Juliet Shelby has made fading into the background an art since the accident she suffered at fifteen changed her forever. Her mother, a legendary beauty, has made certain that Juliet understands that no man will ever desire a woman as handicapped as Juliet is. But Lord Deveril seems to have appointed himself her champion. He is teaching her to dance, standing up to her mother, and working to solve a troubling mystery, Juliet tells herself that he’s just a friend and he’d surely turn away in disgust if he knew her secret. But no matter how much Juliet insists to herself and to her cousins that Deveril is beyond her touch, her heart keeps right on dreaming.
How to Romance a Rake is the second book in Manda Collins’s Ugly Ducklings trilogy. It has the same blend of mystery with an unexpected twist and romance that combines heat and tenderness that characterized the first book, How to Dance with a Duke.
Juliet is a wonderful character, an original heroine who has been building her strength for years as she copes with a mother who is emotionally and physically abusive, a disinterested father, and a world with a low tolerance for visible imperfections and with sharply honed buzzard instincts. Watching her grow in self-confidence and awareness of her strength made reading this novel a moving and satisfying experience.
I also enjoyed the deftly drawn secondary characters. Mr. Bock is my favorite, warm-hearted and engaging, and I won’t say more for fear of spoilers. Juliet’s mother is a narcissistic bitch that a reader finds easy to hate, one who definitely earns a place in the Bad Mothers of Romance Hall of Shame. It was a treat to see Cecily and Winterson, and Maddie is a delight. It gladdened my heart to see the beginnings of a relationship between her and Monteith.
If you haven’t read Manda Collins yet, what are you waiting for? I highly recommend How to Romance a Rake. Although this is the second book, I think it works as a standalone. Of course, once you’ve read it, you’ll want to go back and read How to Dance with a Duke as well. And the third in the series, How to Entice an Earl, will be released January 29, 2013. Ah, Monteith, the earl who already owns a chunk of my heart!
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