A Rake's Vow
I wasn’t sure at first I was going to like Stephanie Laurens’ A Rake’s Vow, although I couldn’t say why. A gut feeling maybe. I’m pleased to say that for once, my gut was wrong. I enjoyed this book and its characters. Vane Cynster is an elegant gentleman, with all that it implies. But he also has heart, character and a strong bond to his family. To me, these things were evident pretty early in the book. Our heroine, Patience Debbington, takes longer to come around.
Due to inclement weather, Vane ends up at the home of his godmother, Lady Araminta Bellamy. There, his first view of Patience is her backside, as she is bent over outside looking for something. Vane is immediately intrigued by Patience, but she is hesitant. After learning from Minnie (Lady Bellamy) that there have been a rash of thefts, and that a “spectre” is haunting the grounds, he agrees to stay on and try to discover the culprit. This unnerves Patience. She is afraid of Vane’s influence on her younger, impressionable brother and of course, of Vane’s affect on her as well. Patience is leery of being in love and Vane has sworn never to marry, but fate and love always find a way. Along with the mystery, we are drawn into Patience and Vane’s burgeoning relationship, one that is very sensual but not particularly emotionally satisfying. When Vane insists they marry, Patience refuses. She will not marry without love, and Vane, named because he always knows which way the wind is blowing, is perplexed by her attitude. Finally, when two matchmakers step in and Vane puts himself and his heart on the line, Patience realizes she has to trust her feelings.
The mystery, while secondary to the love story, most definitely enhances the book. I like when a mystery is written into an historical. I honestly don’t think we see enough of that. There is a host of secondary characters staying at Lady Bellamy’s home, and several of them are suspects. The secondary characters are entertaining or annoying but definitely not boring. Some of them do make you wonder why Lady Bellamy is bothering with them though, family or no family. I admit to guessing at the culprit but not the actual motive, so I do consider the mystery a success.
At times the language did feel a bit forced to me, but I do not think it harmed the book. Overall, I liked both the hero and the heroine. I did wish that Patience had a little more…ahem…patience concerning Vane. She did realize she treated him and his motives unfairly, but she is never honest with him about why she is hesitant to marry. It takes a third party to explain her attitude to Vane, and I am of the mind that she should have explained it to him herself. After all Vane and Patience had been through together, and the way he had defended her brother when he was a suspect, she should have had more faith in his character; she should have been honest with him about the reasons for her reluctance to marry.
In the end, the book was a fun evening’s read and I was sorry when it came to the end. It left me wanting to read more about the Cynsters. I look forward to Ms. Laurens’ next novel.