Lord of the Rakes: Sex, Romance, Madness and Morality

by London, Victorian era
Published by Berkley, Penguin Genres: Historical Romance, Nineteenth Century
Source: Net Galley, Publisher

Lord of the Rakes

by Darcie Wilde
PENGUIN GROUP Berkley Sensation
Pub Date: Feb 4 2014
$7.99 mass market (320p) ISBN 978-0-425-26555-0

Lord of the Rakes CoverDisclosure: E-Galley provided by Publisher via NetGalley.com for review purposes.  No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions expressed herein are my own unless otherwise noted.

 

All of London knows Phillip Montcalm’s name. It’s on the lips of a different lady every night…

So it’s no wonder he’s called the Lord of the Rakes. Talk of his prowess as a lover and his ingenuity in the bedroom are enough to make even the most prudish of ladies succumb to temptation. But as of late, Phillip has found himself a bit bored. Until he sets his eyes on a fiery newcomer.

Gorgeous heiress Lady Caroline Delamarre is new to independence and London and ready to make the most of her life. When Phillip meets her gaze, she knows the perfect place to start: in his arms and in his bed. But what begins as a long night of breathtaking passion leads to more than the two bargained for. Haunted by troubled pasts and inescapable family entanglements, each of them must decide if they can risk a gamble on what might be true love. DarcieWildeRomance.com

 

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My Take!Anyone who went through my school’s high school English curriculum cannot help but notice a nod to LORD OF THE FLIES in this title.  Is there a relationship? I don’t think so,  although one could point to being the ruling class of Victorian England and their tendency to turn on each other as they do in this story being similar to the children in the earlier classic.  But other than that, I don’t see a contextual reference and it’s been a few years since I was forced to read LORD OF THE FLIES in school so I can’t really put a fine point on it.

I couldn’t find a date referenced in the story, but McAdam roads were referenced making it no earlier than the late 1820s.

However, like another story about the Victorian period, THE YELLOW WALLPAPER, By Charlotte Perkins Gilman (free for kindle) it does deal with the position of women as almost non-entities during the period and how easily one could be at the mercy of one’s family/father/brother/husband.  In this story, Caroline’s mother suffered from bouts of depression followed by periods of mania. Her father decided she was mad and confined her to home, although perhaps this was also a bit of revenge.  It’s interesting, and telling, that the father, and then her brother, confine Caroline to the country and local surrounds, allotting her very little freedom.  The reasoning was the madness would have been passed down to her. NOT TO HIM. Although, he seems the madder of the two. Also of interest is that insanity is referred to as a failing of morals and constitution.

The story is novel, complex and exciting in its plot line.  The catch with imprisoning a girl in the country is that when she finally gets free she’s quite likely to have a little wildness stored up like giving me a box of my favorite candy when I go off my diet.  And, with her mother and father as examples, with her independence, she wants no attachment to a man. Pity the whole falling in love thing then. We are such complicated creatures, wanting one thing, and finding all those pesky emotions getting in our way.

Both main characters,  Phillip and Caroline, are deeply and richly scribed.  I feel like I would know them if I came across them in contemporary society.  Phillip is particularly unusual in the depth of his character and his personal growth.  Caroline is perhaps the more usual of the two even with her unconventional decisions.

I also enjoyed the way the living spaces were described. At one point, in a private home during a concert, I felt I could reach out with my senses and touch the potted plants.

The intimacy is scorching hot. Caroline is descried as curvy, but perhaps with those years in the country and no debut (I assume), she has no real issue with whether she is too curvy.  Phillip seems to like her body an awful lot. And their physical encounters are well detailed, not vulgar, and feel right for the time period (not that the act has changed).  I could have used my own Baroque fan to cool down.

So, newly independent, and naive in the ways of love, she embarks on this physical relationship with Phillip. That’s not a spoiler – it is in the blurb. He’s a little into BDSM, maybe BDSM-lite. But he wants her obedience in the bedroom and introduces it in their first encounter.  My feeling is that no matter how horny she was this would have turned her off.

So, at this point in the story the BDSM feels gratuitous.   It gets a little more developed and mixed into the expectations placed on him by his father, who is disabled and seems to live through him. There’s a lot of internal monologue the characters use to argue with themselves. The issues here became somewhat muddled. Even struggling for her independence, maybe Caroline’s years of obedience to her father and brother made her less of a rebel than the character would have liked to believe. But through Phillip’s growth it feels a little more justified by the end.

Caroline comes off as less able to rail against the machine.  More realistic than some books perhaps, wherein a heroine is really independent, Caroline is still at the mercy of men all around.

While still a steamy romance, bordering on erotica, the book is also a historical social commentary showing us the past and the fragility of the rights we experience today.

This book will go towards both the the Historic Romance and Erotic Romance  reading challenges. Click badge fmi.
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