Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Reforming a Rake

A governess must never be alone with a man. Her reputation mustn't have even a hint of scandal. She must never reveal personal emotions. No matter how strong the provocation by her employer. A governess never questions her employer's commands. Even when he's tempting her to forsake respectability for desire? She must never, ever, fall in love with someone above her station. Especially a rake---no matter how devastating his kisses may be...

Alexandra Gallant is a governess extraordinaire--and if it weren't for that unfortunate incident at her last position, she wouldn't now be forced into the employ of Lucien Balfour, the most notorious rake in London. Though the sinfully attractive earl hired her to teach his young cousin, his seductive whispers and toe-curling kisses suggest he has something far less respectable in mind...And that will never happen. For although Lucien seems determined to teach her about pleasure, she has a few lessons to teach him about love!

...A favorite from my 'keeper shelf'!

So I took a short break and came back to re-read one of my favorites!  I won't call it an old favorite as it was published a mere four years ago, but it is one of the earlier books I read when I first got into Regency and historical romance and its definitely on my keeper shelf AND my Kindle!  This story is more of a 'love at first sight' except its the girl that needs the convincing and trust me, the hero convinces! 

Alexandra is a sweet, proper girl; raised a lady, but forced to work in order to live.  Adding to her woes, she ran into a bit of trouble in the household of her last employer, therefore looking for work as a governess has proved very difficult. Bracing herself for one more interview before tossing in the towel and fleeing to Hampshire, she arrives at the home of the Earl of Kilcairn where he takes one look at Alexandra before promptly telling her she's hired.  Befuddled, yet thankful for the income, she accepts the employment with reluctance, reminding the earl of the duties for which she has been hired to perform.  Any other ideas he may have are out of the question.  And he makes it quite clear that he has ideas!

Nevertheless, the earl is intrigued by the young governess he just hired to help launch cousin Rose successfully into society.  And soon, he convinces Alexandra that he needs some lessons too... in finding a wife.  Jealousy tugs gently at Alexandra's heartstrings but why should it?  Could it be that Lucien has other ideas... ideas that may just convince her that she just might be the perfect wife he seeks? 

This story really snaps with wit from page one, which makes it a very entertaining read, firmly securing a spot on my favorites shelf.  Lucien has no qualms about telling it like it is, which is refreshing and, at times, down-right hilarious.  He's also wealthy, smart and handsome... could a girl really ask for more?  But Alexandra is skeptical around this rake.  She's a strong girl making her own way on a path shadowed in scandal, but she's a good girl and wants to stay that way.  Can she perform the tasks for which she was hired without getting too distracted?  

Reforming a Rake really sides more to the idealistic, but I didn't mind because it was cute and sweet and not overwhelmingly "too much".  Alexandra's dog, Shakespeare (or Shakes as he is often called), is a cute addition to the story even if you might roll your eyes in the first chapter when she shows up on the Earl's doorstep, leash in hand, for an employment interview.  But when Lucien questions Alexandra about the scandal with her last employer, he believes her without a doubt and, for me, that moved Lucien up the perfect man-o-meter another big notch.  Their open honesty with each other just added to the tension of wanting to see these two people get together in the end.  And I loved the come-uppance Fiona got when Lucien's plot with Rose was revealed.  But the story doesn't end there...   

I must say that I loved the wine cellar scenes.  At one point, Lucien goes to great lengths to keep Alexandra near him, seeing to her every comfort, including a rearrangement of the living spaces to meet the needs of the woman he's in love with.  Even the staff is in agreement that she and their employer are well matched, so they play the defensive for team Lucien.  But the ultimate test for Alexandra comes in the form of our hero, himself.  Willing to give up everything to prove his love for her, Alexandra must decide if this reformed rake is truly all he seems to be.

I love Suzanne Enoch's stories although I admit I find them a tad overly introspective for my taste.  Personally I prefer much more dialogue, but I get it... its just her writing style.  She still tells great stories so I recommend exploring her other books as well.  After The Kiss and England's Perfect Hero are my other two personal favorites from Enoch and they are both on my list to re-read and review in the near future.  Ms. Enoch has also just released A Lady's Guide to Improper Behavior which I have standing by, ready to read as well!

My rating: 10 – Absolutely LOVED it!

The With This Ring series, in order...

                 

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