From the BLURB:
To escape her brutal grandfather, Prudence stages a plan involving a phony engagement—and the man she approaches is so taken with Pru that he willingly joins her game.
‘The Perfect Rake’ is the first book in Anne Gracie’s ‘Merridew Sisters’ historical romance series.
The Merridew sisters have had a hard life. Charity, Hope, Faith, Grace and Prudence lost their parents at a young age. As if losing their very familial foundations wasn’t bad enough, the girls were then whisked away to live with their Grandpapa. A tyrannical, bible-thumping bully who wreaked havoc on their lives. But not any more. Prudence, the eldest of her sisters, is about to turn twenty-one. And once she does, she will no longer be under her Grandpapa’s thumb. . . but with her freedom will come destitution if she hopes to run away with her sisters. Prudence would like to rely on her fiancé, Phillip, but he left for India four years ago and has not been heard from since.
But that doesn’t mean Prudence’s sisters can’t marry. And so she concocts a lie to get herself and her siblings to London, to stay with their extravagant uncle Oswald and have a London season.
It starts out as a little lie. Which then snowballs and grows and expands to encompass the Duke of Distanble. . . and then Gideon, Lord Carradice, a renowned rake and womanizer.
'The Perfect Rake's is the first book in Anne Gracie's 'Merridew Sisters' series.
I love me a good historical romance. . . but the more I read, the more I realize my love is turning me into a historical romance snob. I know what I like, and what I don’t like. And unfortunately, I didn’t really care for Anne Gracie’s ‘The Perfect Rake’.
Honestly, it’s nothing against the book itself. The characters are lovely and the storyline is a twisted, comical fare with a little Brothers Grimm thrown in for good measure. My only problem with ‘The Perfect Rake’ is that it’s not my cup of historical romance tea. Anne Gracie’s historical romance is more ‘cutesy’ than ‘sultry’ and for the most part the book has a PG-rating as opposed to the ‘M’ or ‘XXX’ that I prefer to read.
The book starts out bleak enough, with the Merridew sisters living under their Grandpapa’s bullying thumb. It’s not until Prudence concocts an outlandish plan to get her and her sisters away to London that things take a turn. . . But Grandpapa’s shadow is constantly hanging over their heads and scaring the young women. The character of Grandpapa is rather two-dimensional, a clear-cut villain. But his presence elevates the story to an almost fairytale-like level, with each Merridew girl cast in the role of Cinderella. None more so than Prudence. . . her sisters are all golden and beautiful. The young Merridew women are exceptionally ethereal and attractive, and Prudence pales by comparison. By her own admission, Prudence has a too-big nose, is a little too plump and has wild, frizzy red curls. Beside her sisters, she is the ‘ugly duckling’.
But when she meets Gideon Carradice, he sees only Prudence’s beauty. He calls her his ImPrudence (Imp for short) and cannot fathom how anyone could see her sisters through Prudence’s beauty.
The romance is heartfelt if for no other reason than Carradice proves true that old adage, ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’. Prudence is plain-looking, but he can’t see it. . . all he can see is her beauty. It’s a lovely sentiment, if a little too mushy for me. And there is that element of ‘love at first sight’ that I so despise. But like I said before, the romance is more ‘cutesy’ than ‘sultry’ and not really up my alley.
Apparently he didn’t please. “If he doesn’t make your head whirl – and I’m not referring to compliments – he’s not the man for you, Imp. Duty and honour is a dashed dry foundation for a marriage. Oh, I know many make it, but you deserve more, my Prudence. You need – and deserve – to be most thoroughly and completely loved. And by a man who makes your head whirl.”
There were some things I really liked about the book. Uncle Oswald was hilarious – especially when Prudence and Gideon unwittingly weave a tangled web that leaves him baffled and bumbling. He’s a stunning secondary character.
I also really liked the fact that Carradice was self-aware of his rakishness, to the point that Anne Gracie pokes fun at the old historical romance cliché:
He gazed into her eyes for a long, long moment. “Yes. And when a rake finally falls, he falls forever.” He let her digest that for a moment and then added solemnly, “Besides, you should not scorn my rakishness. Having a rake about the place will come in extremely useful.”She frowned in puzzlement. “Useful?” It was an odd word to use. “What do you mean? What possible use would I have for a rake?”“I could tidy up all your fallen leaves each autumn.”
I could find nothing wrong with ‘The Perfect Rake’. . . except it’s not my preferred batch of historical romance.