Never Trust a Rake
Never Trust a Rake is a typical regency romance. Country girl with little town bronze meets unrepentant rake and the country girl is not impressed. The story flows well. The writing is witty at times, yet the entire package just seemed to fall a little flat.
Miss Henrietta Gibson was nearly on the shelf before her absentminded and scholarly father got around to sending her to London for a long awaited season. Unfortunately, he sent her to an aunt she had never met whose husband was engaged in trade. It was only through a slight connection she was invited to a ton event at all despite her own superior antecedents. She is saved from total ton disaster at the hands of the odious Miss Waverly by none other than Lord Deben, rake extraordinaire. When Miss Waverly attempts to trick Lord Deben into marriage, Henrietta saves the day and ironically Miss Waverly’s reputation in the bargain. Unfortunately, her own reputation is called into question when Miss Waverly becomes vindictive.
Lord Deben decides that since he placed Miss Gibson in an unflattering light, he must do something to repair her place in society. So he pretends to court her, despite her protests. Henrietta cannot understand why he would do so and there are a series of misunderstandings that almost border on the tedious. Soon Lord Deben is no longer pretending, but Henrietta is fully in the dark as to his intentions.
Ms. Burrows just seems a little schizophrenic in her writing as she seemed to be trying to channel Jane Austen’s wicked twin – this makes the writing stilted at times. She waffled back and forth between trying to emulate a 19th century novel and trying to inject a bit of modern sex into the mix. It felt like the author was writing with an open thesaurus at times, grasping for the correct word usage but choosing the wrong words. The writing seemed to get more even about the midway point, but the early awkwardness detracted from the overall quality of the book.
I did grow to like the characters of Henrietta and Lord Deben. I just did not love them. I liked that both the hero and heroine were flawed and each had less than perfect physical attributes. I also appreciated that Henrietta and Lord Deben did not immediately fall into lust with one another, but their relationship was allowed to grow at a realistic pace. The two became friends first and the love was born of that friendship. This was not a case of pheromones on steroids as with many romance novels.
While the author gave enough background information to give credence to their personalities, it still seemed the hero and heroine were not fully fleshed out. The author told us about the characters instead of showing us the characters. Lord Deben was described as an important man in Parliament, but we have no clue why. The secondary characters were problematic as well. It seemed as if those characters who actually had lines in this novel were doomed to cameo appearances. Henrietta makes her social debut with her cousin Mildred and they ostensibly attend quite a few events together. Yet Mildred does not have a single line of dialogue in the entire book. Much was made about her uncle being a Cit engaged in trade, yet we never meet him. The “love of Henrietta’s life” has exactly two scenes in the book: One in the very beginning and one at the end.
There was no great drama and everything proceeded on an even keel – too even a keel. The result was rather bland; rather like mashed potatoes without the gravy. Ms. Burrows shows some signs of very good writing at times, but it appeared she had difficulty deciding just what her voice should sound like and the result was a little bit of a mess during the first half of the book. She seemed to find that voice in the latter half, but it was just a little too late for me.