As someone who loves historical romances set in the Regency period, it’s a very bad sign when I have to force myself to pick up a book again after each time I put it down. And, since I’ve very much enjoyed Suzanne Enoch’s books in the past, my reaction to this one is especially disappointing.
The first in a new Lessons in Love trilogy, The Rake tells the story of the tangled past and very confusing present of Lady Georgiana Halley and Tristan Carroway, Viscount Dare. I’ll try to explain this so it’s clear, but to be honest, things remained murky for me throughout the book. Six years earlier Tristan, seeking to win a wager to get both a kiss and a stocking from Georgiana, seduced our heroine. As a result, along with her virginity, Georgiana lost all respect for Tristan when she learned of the existence of the bet. And even though she never discovered the outcome of the wager – and since her lack of innocence isn’t public knowledge – Georgiana hates Tristan. Make that hates, hates, hates Tristan.
In fact, Georgina hates Tristan so much that she decides to make him fall in love with her so that she can then reject him and teach him how to properly treat a lady. To that end, she moves into his house to act as a companion to his two spinster aunts. Tristan – whose feelings for Georgiana certainly weren’t clear to me – is, at the moment, sort of half-heartedly courting a wealthy young society miss and is, not surprisingly, very disconcerted at Georgiana’s sudden intrusion into his life. After all, Georgiana hates him.
Still, Georgiana has money and Tristan needs to marry it. And, of course, Georgiana doesn’t really hate Tristan. So, it’s a fairly easy bet to see where the story is going.
Frankly, the plot never really did make a great deal of sense to me and that is the book’s greatest weakness. Why did Georgiana never know the outcome of the wager? Didn’t she wonder why the supposedly evil Tristan whom she hates never claimed his prize? It just seems like this intelligent a woman would work a little harder to discover exactly what happened before deciding that spinsterhood is her only option.
Because despite the fact that her plan to humble Tristan is truly an asinine one, Georgiana is an interesting character with some nice depths. As for Tristan, he is likable and funny, but, as described by Enoch, I just couldn’t figure out where he stood at any particular moment in the plot in regards to our heroine. And his emotional progression – from bemusement to love – might have been there in words, but I certainly never really understood how he got from point A to point B.
But, if you can look beyond the plot – or if it simply doesn’t bother you – there are certainly far worse ways to spend a few hours. Suzanne Enoch is a talented writer with a gift for light historicals. And though I’ll certainly be there to try her next one, I do hope that next time the lesson in love makes a bit more sense.