Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Tuesday Review: How to Romance a Rake

How to Romance a Rake
By 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 love Deveril too. First of all, he’s a blond hero. And while I share the common susceptibility to the tall, dark, and handsome combination, there’s just something special about a blond hero. First impressions are important, and I fell hard for this hero on the first page when I read this description: “Deveril was a man envied by men and adored by women. And he was bloody tired of it.” Most of all I loved Deveril’s sensitivity to Juliet and his respect for her as her own person even as he acknowledged his need to protect her.

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!

Dark heroes have long been most popular in romance, but I seem to be seeing more blond heroes recently. There are even a few red-headed heroes. What’s your preference?

Giveaway: One randomly selected person will be chosen from among those who comment to receive a copy of How to Romance a Rake.

Irish, you're the Randomizer's choice to win the box of books from last Friday's blog. If you'll send me your contact info at jangarho at gmail dot com, I'll send you your books ASAP.


Manda Collins said...

Thank you so much for the lovely review, Janga! It does my heart proud to know that you loved Deveril and Juliet as much as I did! :-)

As for the blond heroes, I am a sucker for them, I'm afraid. I think maybe because I'm a brunette and so I like them because they're different.

You'll be interested to know, though that Trevor, the hero of the first book of my new trilogy, is a redhead! He's a cross between Damian Lewis and Toby Stephens. Yum!

Kathleen O said...

You have me intrigued.. I have not read any of Manda Collins books, but I am sure am going to start.. I will be checking out her books as we speak... I must admit it has always been the dark heroine for me, but those blonde blued eyed gugs to it for me too..

Vanessa Kelly said...

I'm so lucky that I have an ARC of this book cued up in my e-reader - I'm reading it now, and it's lovely!

I'm also a sucker for tall, dark, and handsome, but I like blonde heroes, too. They often seem to be the prototypical nice guy hero, and that's pretty great, too!

PJ said...

I usually prefer dark heroes but Deveril is a wonderful hero. I ♥ him so much!

Great review, Janga and I couldn't agree more on the Bad Romance Mother Hall of Shame!

Manda, you stole my heart with this book. It's going straight to my keeper shelf.

Janga said...

Manda, I love reviewing books that capture my interest and touch my heart, and your books definitely do that.

I consider myself an equal opportunity love of heroes, and so I'm delighted to learn that your next hero is a redhead. He sounds yummy indeed.

Janga said...

Kathleen, you have a real treat in store. Manda's books are great. I hope you love them as much as I do.

Janga said...

Isn't it a great read, Vanessa?. Poignant and tender and just wonderful.

I have an abiding affection for the nice guy hero. Not that I want to abandon alphas completely, but there's the nice guys touch my heart in a special way--perhaps because they remind me of the real life heroes I know.

Janga said...

PJ, I love hearing that other readers love Deveril too. I admit he came close to edging Monteith into second place. One of the terrific things about reading romance is that we never have to choose just one hero. We can love lots of them. :)

quantum said...

I'm turning green with envy!

I may have to buy the paper version if the e-books don't materialise over here soon.

I could never resist reading Manda's drabbles and holding out for her e-books is becoming akin to torture!

Delighted that she is so succesful though.

irisheyes said...

You know what intrigues me most is the rotten mother. I don't know why but I find that really rotten mothers create great heroines. So, I'm excited about the rotten mother! LOL

I'm afraid I'm a tall, dark and handsome kinda lady too. I have a hard time picturing blond heroes. The best I can do is picture Ryan Gosling, I suppose. I absolutely adore him and he's kind of a dirty blond. The redhead is intriguing too, Manda.

Thanks for the prize, Janga. I'll get my address out to you ASAP.

Manda Collins said...

Thanks all! I hope it lives up to the praise it's getting here:) You've got me nervous! PJ and Vanessa I am so thrilled you love Deveril as much as I do!

Janga, I admit that I do like to write nice-guy heroes. Mostly because I think I'd end up wanting to punch most alphas in the face in real life! I'm glad that we can love them all, though, thanks to the beauty of fiction!

Sorry about the difficulty in getting my books digitally, Q. It's the nature of the beast, I'm afraid. But they are available in print from Book Depository quite cheaply, I think.

Irish, Ryan Gosling definitely works! (Does he ever? *fans self). And I think you're right about the rotten mothers making great heroines.

Janga said...

Q, I hope those ebooks are available soon. They really are great reads, both of them--and so is #3. :)

It's good to see you back. I missed you.

Janga said...

Irish, I think you're right about the rotten mothers--and about Ryan Gosling too. I'm probably showing my age when I admit that my ideal blond hero if I must identify an image is the young Robert Redford whom I found infinitely sigh-worthy back when I was very young and impressionable. :) But my favorite hero images are the composites that only exist in my imagination.

Janga said...

Manda, we can all gather here again come January to talk about the wonders of the conclusion to the Ugly Suclings trilogy. I love How to Entice an Earl too.