Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A Rake's Guide to Pleasure Review

I must say that Victoria Dahl has some of the best historical romance covers around. I really do love the ones where the man and woman are mostly naked in a sea of silk sheets, and her latest, A Rake’s Guide to Pleasure is no exception. But a cover can only do so much for sales. A Rake’s Guide to Pleasure is a well-written, sexy romance with two mature characters who want totally different things in life. The Duke of Somerhart refuses to take the word “no” for an answer from Emma Jensen, who pretends to be the widowed Lady Denmore. You would think this would get a bit annoying after awhile, especially since Emma is so adamant in telling Hart to, “take a hike”, but Hart’s chase of Emma is the highlight of the novel. Emma is no simpering "oh woes is me!" character. She may be a virgin in body, but not in her mind, and the reasoning she gives Hart to remain so, made me want to take her in my arms and rock her. Emma has been dealt some bad cards in her life and because of this, she decides to live her own way, by her own set of rules, and won’t allow any man, especially a man like Hart to tell her otherwise.

Emma has come to London for a specific reason and it is not to enjoy the festivities that the Ton usually involves itself with. This is a woman on a mission, to make as much money as she can before the rest of London society arrives after the winter holiday. Emma uses her time wisely either gambling or places bets with various gentlemen in order to come up with enough money to live comfortably for the rest of her days in a little cottage by the sea. Emma has secrets and will lie to her advantage. She tells these little fibs so she will be able to fleece those who are gullible. Emma’s past is quite shocking mainly because of her father, who lived a life of debauchery where he gambled, drank and whored till the day he died. Emma saw many things as a young and impressionable child and refuses to fall into that trap where she will be left desolate or seduced and pregnant. She plays a dangerous game, flirting with the various titled gentlemen to get what she wants. She is very close to meeting her goal when, she is noticed by the one man who could destroy her well-laid plans, the Duke of Somerhart.

Emma met Hart about a decade ago during one of her father’s late night parties. Hart made quite the impression on the nine year old Emma and she daydreamed that Hart would be her knight in shining armor and come rescue her. Of course this didn’t happen and now years later, Hart has a reputation of being heartless, ruthless, cold… well, you get the picture. Emma is disgusted by these rumor’s especially the ones about Hart’s countless lovers. The boy she dreamed about was a fantasy after all, and she realizes that they must never be more than passing acquaintances. Hart’s reputation is mostly true but he has a new outlook on life. He will try to give up those vices he enjoyed when he was younger man. But he can hardly deny his lust towards Emma. When it comes to Emma, he finds her to be a different type of creature all together. She dances around any questions he may have and places herself in dangerous situations for money. Something is off about this so-called widow who has arrived out of nowhere. He wants to find out her secrets and thinks his excellent powers of seduction will enable him to solve the puzzle that is Emma.

I love when the heroine gives the hero a merry chase and A Rake’s Guide to Pleasure is exactly that. Emma seriously does not want to be bothered with Hart even if he makes her tingly inside. Where as the hero is the one who may seem cold and refuses to admit his feelings, Dahl has turned things around where it is Emma who tries her hardest to acknowledge any feelings she may have for Hart. She is not willing to take the risk or the consequences for a moment of pleasure. But Hart has a way of breaking down her defenses, not because this is a game to him, but because Emma calls out to him where he wants to protect and cherish her. He feels they are kindred spirits.

I can’t help but compare Emma and Hart’s relationship to a cat and mouse game that will end in the bedroom. There are two love scenes that especially caught my eye that are so very erotic. The very first one is where Hart is giving Emma pleasure and doesn’t ask for anything in return. Thank you so much for that scene Victoria! And as well as the next one where Emma gets her own revenge against Hart for rocking her world and destroying all the walls she has placed around herself.

Even though the main focus is Emma and Hart, there is a subplot that deals with an obsessive suitor of Emma’s from her past who comes out of nowhere quite suddenly. Some may find that this takes away from the on-going drama between Emma and Hart, but for the most part, I was pleased with the results, mainly because I am still a sucker for the hero who ends up saving the damsel in distress.

Even though the title may seems a bit misleading, because Hart doesn’t really have a guide he follows to make sure a woman is pleasured, A Rake’s Guide to Pleasure has everything I want to read in a historical romance from two engaging characters, wonderful dialogue and very creative and luscious love scenes. I am overjoyed that Zebra has such an author like Victoria Dahl writing for them, and A Rake’s Guide to Pleasure is one romance you will not want to pass up.

3 ½ stars out of 5

Katiebabs (KB)


Ana said...

Great review Katie. You already now how much I loved this book.

And I am one of those who prefer not to have a villain. : )

Stacy~ said...

Sounds really good. I've never read anything by Victoria Dahl before - where should I start?

Sarai said...

Wow so I guess this has to go on the must buy list.

Ana I don't care for the villain either sometimes its nice to just focus on the H/H

Katiebabs said...

Ana: Great minds thinks alike ;)
I thought the villain was a bit strange and really not needed, but like I said, I am suck for the hero saving the heroine from danger.

Stacy: This is Victoria's second book and a great place to start, her first one was okay, but A Rake's Guide shows her writing skills very well.

Sarai: Go forth and buy! MUWAHAHA

kim said...

I just ordered this book yesterday! I can't wait!

After reading Ana's review, I went to Victoria's web site and she has a contemporary coming out in Jan.'09 that looks really good too. I am not a big fan of contemps but the excerpt was interesting.

Tracy said...

Sounds so good. Can't wait to read it!