Rakes: Wine, Women and Drugs – Or Did Their Wives Really Drive Them to It?

rake rogueGuest blog by Sandra Scholes

Which came first? The rakish behavior or the wife?

In modern day society if you marry, it’s usually for love and mutual interest. So a husband cheated on his wife, they are all sorts of names under the sun. If he had cold feet about the seriousness of a permanent commitment, then he could have called it off. However, in the Regency or Victorian eras, it was a different story. Back then the sons of rich families had to marry and have heirs who would carry on the family title whether it was Lord, Baron or Earl. They had no choice in the matter, because usually parents arranged the matches as soon as they were considered to be of age.

While there was some courting, he would never be allowed to date her as they do today. A man’s closest relationship with the opposite sex was probably his mistress. The rules for interaction were different between a man and a mistress then with a genteel lady. With a mistress the man could have love, emotional comfort, and most of all–regular sexual relations. Interactions with his lady wife would not be as open or passionate.

In many cases, wives wanted their husbands to see a mistress, to relieve them of marital duties they found unpleasant or disruptive to their day-to-day lives. (As long as he was discrete!) In that case, it could be said that the wife drove the husband into the life of being a rake. What do you think? Is it possible that the rake’s debauchery, constant thrill-seeking, and drug usage could be linked back to his wife? Or do you think rakish behavior started well before marriage?

Regency Rakes and Their All Too Often Naughtiest Traits

by Sandra Scholes, guest blogger

Rakes are numerous in Regency romance novels, as a peek through a Mills and Boon or Jane Austen paperback will tell enough about a supposed gentleman’s personality, but what are the man’s traits that separate men in fiction from the rakish rogues in popular historical novels today?

What makes a Regency rake?

Normally a titled gentleman would be enough, though many are just about to be titled, and too many need an eligible woman; read into that – any eligible woman who might tolerate his nightly romps with women of the night while she is looking after their children.

Rake Traits:

  • A rake is a man who knows every seduction technique under the sun, and knows how to deceive a girl into thinking he cares about them.
  • He has charm by the bucket load.
  • He leaves a string of ladies sobbing at his infidelity.
  • They invite scandal at every turn, laughing at other people for being prudish about the thrills they get.
  • They prefer a girl with spunk who is not afraid to explore her sensual side.
  • He takes risks of being exposed by someone they don’t like or someone they do.
  • A rake knows instantly when a lady is most certainly not a lady (i.e. not a virgin.)
  • Most of the time rakes have a nice side to them the women exploit to the fullest.
  • They can be found at balls, and other respectable places, but it isn’t their normal scandalous haunt.
  • The rake is allowed to bed as many girls as he wants as long as he marries well.
  • They are adventurers of a sort who live to enjoy traveling the world, seeing sights and other native girls.
  • Rakes can be called such, or worse rakehell, depending on how bad they are.
  • Rakes have a great sense of humour that seems built in.
  • The rake has a mistress who is cold in bed, but meets a girl of high standing in society who turns out to be better in bed than her.
  • Rakes enjoy a night out at the theatre in a private box with a girl to entertain.