Title: The Rake
Author: Mary Jo Putney
Genre: Historical Romance
Synopsis: A man's past doesn't have to map his fate, especially when a woman holds the key to his destiny in this timeless novel by New York Times bestselling author and legend in historical romance Mary Jo Putney...
Disinherited and disgraced, Reginald Davenport's prospects cried for a dire end. But fate has given him one last chance at redemption—by taking his rightful place as the heir of Strickland, his lost ancestral estate. Davenport knows his way around women, yet nothing prepares him for his shocking encounter with Lady Alys Weston.
Masquerading as a man in order to obtain a position as estate manager of Strickland, Alys fled a world filled with mistrust and betrayal. She was finished with men—until Strickland's restored owner awakens a passion she thought she would never feel. A passion that will doom or save them both…if only they can overcome their pasts.
Review: Mary Jo Putney sure got me out of my reading funk with this gem!
The story centers on Reggie Davenport, who is a rake in every sense of the word. He likes his behavior scandalous, his women wanton, and his drink a-plenty. Unfortunately, unlike other casual drinkers, alcohol has become quite a problem for Reggie and has lead to black outs, as well as regrettable behavior.
The female lead is Alys Weston, strong, stubborn, and with a hint of self-esteem issues. What makes Alys so unique is that she's tall, with long legs, and a set of mismatched eyes. What makes Alys so relate-able is that she feels like she's always stood out for her physical characteristics (a total appeal to me as a tall, dorky girl).
As Reggie and Alys form a bond over their shared interest in Davenport's estate (of which Alys is a stewart and Reggie had inherited), a passion forms between the two of them that is only unleashed after our rake has been drinking. Aside from the obvious physical attraction, there is also a real sense of respect that both our leads have for each other. I also loved their back-and-forth flirting humor.
As the characters slowly revealed themselves to each other, the story built on them and the relationships around them. I loved that Putney incorporated the lives of other characters into the story and that it did not come off as cluttered. I really enjoyed the side stories as much as the main one!
The only complaint I had was the lack of steamy sexy scenes. They were almost glazed over to get to the meat of the story. While in this case, that story was good enough for it to work, it was a little disappointing to have those highly anticipated scenes not be milked for every ounce of the sexy goodness they provided.
Overall, it was a thoroughly enjoyable read that I'd definitely recommend to any fans of historical romance.