To Capture a Rake

to seduce an earlGuest Blog by Lori Brighton, author of To Seduce an Earl

What is a rake? Well, if you’re a gardener it’s a tool used to gather things like grass and leaves. But to the romance reader, a rake is something far, far more interesting.

According to Wikipedia, “A rake, short for rakehell, is a historic term applied to a man who is habituated to immoral conduct, frequently a heartless womanizer.”

Immoral conduct?! Sign me up! For most romance readers, the rake is the ultimate hero, but of course only if he’s changed by the love of the perfect woman. Pick up a romance book, any romance, and most likely you’ll find a rake as the hero. A man who sleeps around with anyone; a man so gorgeous and charming, he can have any woman he wants, and often does. That’s right… they were manwhores and they were the inspiration for my newest historical romance with Amazon Montlake,  To Seduce an Earl.

I know what you’re thinking… my book sounds like every other romance out there. Well, not exactly. Sure, I could have written a book about the typical rake, but I decided to take it one step further and turn the rake into an actual prostitute. The heroes in my newest trilogy actually work in a brothel that caters to women.

Although it sort of started out as a joke, mocking your typical bed-jumping rake, I wanted to bring an element of reality to the situation and make this an emotional experience. You can imagine my relief when I received this review from the website, The Season, “Brighton perfectly captures the detachment sex workers develop to cope with their lives (yes, my day job as a social worker recognized this right away).”

The fact that a social worker appreciated the emotional depth I tried hard to convey, was quite the relief. So, if you have any interest in paid companions (and who doesn’t), or would just like an emotional read, I’m giving away two signed copies of To Seduce an Earl. Just leave a comment and a way to get into contact with you!

Buy: To Seduce an Earl (The Seduction Series)

Review: Her Husband’s Harlot (Mayhem in Mayfair, Book 1) by Grace Callaway

her husband's harlotReviewed by Carla F.

Summary: When she accidentally finds among her new husband’s things a party invitation with a lewd illustration on the back and the words, “Get Thee to The Nunnery”, Lady Helena Harteford recognizes it as the name of a brothel. She knows that Nicholas plans to go to that party. After all, since their disastrous wedding night, he hasn’t come to her bed. She decides to don a mask and go to the brothel to beg her husband not to take a whore. If he does, it will break her heart.

Nicholas decides to go to a brothel because he doesn’t want to subject his lovely, innocent wife to anymore of his carnal desires. He knows that if she knew of his past that she would be shocked, appalled, and would wish she had never married him.

Things don’t always turn out the way you expect…

Review: I devoured this book in a couple of hours! I just love how Helena and Nicholas fancy each other like mad, but suffer so much from their own insecurities. They both believe their spouse is is ashamed of him/her. It takes them a long time to get past this and accept themselves. I also liked how Helena (even though she is shy) later on decides to take charge and seduce her own husband.

The mystery involving Nicolas’s background is one that keeps the reader’s interest. You want to know who the villain is.

One thing that I couldn’t believe: The part where Helena goes back to the whore house as the masked lady and sends a note to Nicholas to come visit her there. Even though he doesn’t know who she really is, he shows up, beds her, and pays her!

Recommended: If you love a story with a heroine who is a wallflower with a backbone of steel or a damaged hero then you will love this one too.

Rating: ★★★★★

Buy: Her Husband’s Harlot (Mayhem in Mayfair #1)

Review: Worth Any Price by Lisa Kleypas

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This story by Kleypas is an exciting adventure from start to finish. It all starts with a manhunt… or should I say a woman-hunt? Nick Gentry is looking for the wily Charlotte Howard. He has a small portrait of her in his pocket and his brother-in-law’s backing to get him into the Earl of Westcliff’s home where he’s tracked Charlotte. The Earl notices something fishy about the Viscount John Sydney and sets about unveiling the man’s secrets.

Meanwhile, John Sydney aka Nick Gentry, is prowling the premises for Charlotte and comes upon a young lady on top of a stone wall starring out across the grounds. Her foot is caught in her dress and Nick springs into action to save her… only to find the appealing woman in his arms is the very woman he’s been paid to track down.

Against all better judgment, Nick decides he can afford to stay and watch the lovely and lively Lottie. He comes to the startling conclusion that he wants her for himself and Lord Radnor can go hang before he’d ever bring to the obsessed creep a treasure such as her. Just as passion is sparking between Nick and Lottie, Westcliff pounces with the truth of Nick’s identity.

Frightened but determined, Lottie vows she will never go back to Lord Radnor. Westcliff offers to marry her to keep her away from Nick and provide protection, but Lottie turns him down. Instead she offers herself up to be Nick’s mistress which he refuses because he’d also rather have her as his wife…

I’m classifying this novel under virgin hero, not because Nick was a virgin in his relations to Lottie but because we see him lose his virginity to the Prostitute Gemma, well I suppose she was the Madam of the brothel.

This book would be rated higher, but I was a little disturbed by Radnor’s obsession with trying to break Charlotte as if she were a horse. I also didn’t like learning that her parents were okay with her being locked in a room alone with Radnor while he forced her to sit on his lap and answer to him while he touched her inappropriately… and while there was no full blown rape in the story, this qualifies to me as rape and is marked as such.

Luckily for readers Nick is a dominating force and dispels upsetting Radnor’s presence pretty easily. Oh and this is the first time I’ve seen a shower scene in a historical but Kleypas explains in her author notes why she included it based on her research. It’s solid so don’t let the idea of inaccuracy turn you away from reading this book.

Interesting term found within the prologue: buttock-and-file whore which is an old term for a street prostitute who was in connection with a pickpocket or also pickpocketed her customers. So you would pay, pay again involuntary, and perhaps gain a new venereal disease. Cool.

Rating: ★★★★☆

Buy: Worth Any Price (Bow Street, Book 3)

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Review: A Lily Among Thorns by Rose Lerner

The Heroine: Serena learned the hard way that men couldn’t be trusted. She ran off to marry a young man from her father’s employ only to be jilted. Too proud to return home she took up life as a prostitute and learned that all men were pigs… all except 200 Pounds, the title she gave to another young man who left without her services and gave her money enough to start fresh. In her new life Serena vowed she would never be dependent upon a man again. When her path crosses 200 Pounds she’s determined to repay the debt, little knowing all he wanted from her was the real her not the persona she built as the Siren.

The Hero: Solomon is a man of honor and that makes him odd. Odder still is his preference for tinkering with chemicals to create dyes for cloth with one uncle when he could lead a life of privilege under his other uncle. He recognizes Serena as the prostitute he gave 200 pounds too as soon as they are alone in the dark, but not before. When a man from her past threatens her freedom with a fake marriage, Solomon is determined to help again even though he sought her first for help locating a family heirloom.

Review: Packed with intrigue, A Lily Among Thorns, brings together a beta hero with a backbone (he knows what he wants and won’t accept less) and a heroine who acts in spite of fear with a determination to be admired. The story is very character driven and sprinkled with spicy moments. I particularly liked when Solomon broke the lock dividing their two rooms and how Serena reacts (and thinks about it later too.) Only had one caveat, Solomon starts as a virgin hero and I missed any reference to him losing it before meeting Serena a second time, where he clearly knows what he’s doing. ;)

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: A Lily Among Thorns, A Lily Among Thorns (UK)

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Review: The Harlot by Saska Walker

by Carla F., guest reviewer

Summary: Jessie Taskill is a prostitute who is known as “The Harlot of Dundee.” She has gotten this name because she enjoys her work and doesn’t just lie there. Jessie gets into a fight in a bar with another prostitute over a client. When the other woman realizes that Jessie is going to win she accuses Jessie of being a witch. Jessie is then sent to jail.

She really is a witch and is ready to cast a spell to escape her cell when a priest comes to visit with her. Gregor Ramsey has come dressed in priest robes to see Jessie because he has a proposition for her. He will help her escape in exchange for her to help him get revenge on his enemy.

Review: This sure isn’t anything like Pretty Woman. The world that Jessie lives in is a crude one and this book reflects that. The first view that Gregor (and the reader) has of Jessie is of her bare behind while she is fighting the other prostitute.

There are all kinds of sex here: straight, lesbian, gay and threesome. Since this book was from Harlequin’s Spice line, I wasn’t sure if this was even going to be a love story. I was almost halfway through the book before I came to care about either Jessie or Gregor. (It took stories of their difficult pasts and seeing affection between them to make it happen.)

Overall: Mostly erotica and some of it coarse, but once the love starts the story becomes interesting.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Buy: The Harlot, The Harlot (UK)

Review: A Precious Jewel by Mary Balogh

I got this novel from the library when MagdalenB recommended it for a hero who bumbles his first declaration of love/marriage proposal:

Balogh’s A Precious Jewel. Gerald tries to explain why marriage is good idea; forgets to mention “love.” Twice!

Read it in a day because it was so different than any courtesan romance I have read to date. While reading it I simply couldn’t put it down and I liked it a lot. Writing the review pointed out to me all the things I didn’t like about the novel so you’ll have to excuse the overly negative approach. This novel was not without flaws, but if you’re like me you’ll enjoy it anyway.

Priscilla Wentworth lost her father and brother within a very short span of time and became a ward of her uncle. Her uncle is a lecherous creep and to avoid his advances she runs away to London to meet up with her former governess. She had planned to get a job at her finishing school. In actuality it was a high end whorehouse. Prissy tried for two months to get a job as a maid, a servant, or a governess and could not because she had zero references. Too prideful to take a made up position by her old governess she chose instead to become an honest whore. No virgin prostitute novel here.

After two months working, Sir Gerald Stapleton, becomes her client. One night he comes to her and finds her beaten by her previous costumer and decides to set her up as his mistress. Gerald has very simple tastes in bed – he likes his partner to be unmoving and receptive. He has never made love to a woman, just used them. The love scenes are very detached because of this, even when he comes to Prissy and tries to learn.

Gerald is not really romance hero material. He has zero redeeming traits. He is not bright, or adventurous, or particularly good at anything. He is not handsome. He is not good in bed. He makes no grand gestures (except screwing up his marriage proposal twice) and his idea of romance is buying her pieces of jewelry (something most men did for their mistresses anyway). He tells Prissy she’s a “good girl” and “you have pleased me” more often than he should. In bed he takes and does not give. He doesn’t know how or care really to learn. He believes (and it’s true) that he’s inadequate.

However, he cannot help but love Prissy. She’s the backbone of the novel. Her warmth, unfailing kindness, and presence in his life draw him in and won’t let him go. Gerald must overcome his anger at the betrayals by his mother and stepmother in order to truly acknowledge his need for Prissy. Until then he treats her like a mistress and like their time together is strictly business.

Rating: ★★★½☆

Buy: A Precious Jewel

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Review: The Bartered Virgin by Chevon Gael

The Story: New York City heiress, Winnifred Percy, has been very good about slipping through fortune hunter and marriage seeking fingers. A lie here or there and soon her suitors would disappear. This is exactly was Winn wants because in a few short years she’ll gain full control over the fortune left to her by an ex-prostitute. She longs to see the world and means to explore it with the funds as soon as she can.

That dream is snatched away when one day her father announces her engagement to the Earl of Wolshingham, David Knightbridge. This alliance was created in hopes that David’s peerage connections would do business with the father while at the same time providing David with the means to refurbish his moldering estate back in Great Britain. Like Winn, David is also angry, he was hoping for a loan, not a bride!

But when Winnifred tries to throw him off, David won’t budge. She can curse, smoke, and read all the naughty French diaries she wants, but she will become his bride, unless scandal marks them first.

Review: The premise of the story is cute, and I always like arranged marriages that force the hero and heroine together to work things out, but I found the execution lacking. I had a hard time reconciling both the hero and the heroine to their actions. David in particular at the beginning came across as a bullying beta male trying to be alpha. He gropes the heroine in the first meeting and forces on her a kiss. It wasn’t passionate as much as it was him trying to exert his authority over her, who he thought originally a well-loved tart, and the situation in general. It was a knee-to-groin worthy moment. He changes for the better eventually, but as a hero his first actions colored my view of him for the worse.

Rating: ★½☆☆☆

Buy: The Bartered Virgin

Audio Review: Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding

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This is the first time I read the books. I admit I am a bad girl and watched the movies first. That said, I really liked the reader, Barbara Rosenblat, as she reminded me of the movie. Her voice for the mother was fabulous. It was airy, a bit ditzy, and a tad lofty. Her Bridget was cute, the voice and inflections similar to Renee Zellweger in the movies.

There was less cursing than you’d think considering the movie which was full of fucks. The most used curse word was probably bloody.

The book and the movie are very different:

  • For instance in the book there was no mix-up of who cheated who’s wife. That’s a plus.
  • However on the other hand there wasn’t a fight scene between Daniel and Mark, which really was a deliciously wonderful and sexy dorky scene. Boo.
  • Also, Bridget’s mother’s new boy toy Hoo-lio (Julian) is a scam artist opposed to a home shopping sales rep.
  • Richard, the television boss, is not a rescuing savior but a revoltingly nasal and crass man. There were elements of the ridiculous in the movie but not nearly as over the top as in the book.
  • Sadly Mark never read her diary in the book as he did in the movie and the super cute ending with kiss in snow isn’t there either. They do share a cute ending though.

On another note, Hugh Grant must have a great sense of humor because he’s mentioned in this book for the prostitute thing and Bridget compares Daniel Cleaver to Grant. I busted a gut laughing. It is only funny because he ends up playing Daniel Cleaver in the movie.

Overall, I loved the book. In my opinion it is much better to get this as an audio book versus reading because I didn’t mind at all the cigarette, alcohol units, and calorie counting as I would have in reading it. I also would probably skipped them all after a certain point and missed the subtle humor in it.

Rating: ★★★★½

Buy: Bridget Jones’s Diary

Buy on Audible.com: Bridget Jones’s Diary