Reviewed by Steph Huddleston
A tale of transformation and romance set against a dazzling backdrop of regency London
Once, childhood friends Louisa and Charles conspired together on a ruse to fool the town. They engaged each other in a fake courtship to protect themselves from the kind of marriages fortune-hunting suitors and meddling mamas hoped for. But when the season ended, and Louisa found Charles in a compromising position with an opera singer, both their ruse and friendship came to a devastating conclusion.
Now, seven years later, Charles is recovering from years of debauchery and ruin, and he is seeking a wife to better himself. As the season begins anew, he and Louisa will come into contact once more as she supervises her younger sister’s debut.
But Louisa has more on her mind than protecting Flora from fortune-hunters and men of ill-repute. Being back in town means seeing Charles again and facing the feelings she ran away from seven years before.
Then, there’s the troublesome but handsome Mister Hayward to deal with, who is making some intriguing offers. As Louisa and Charles draw nearer together, they set the town ablaze with whispers. But Charles must prove he is no longer the man he was if he is to have a hope of winning Louisa’s hand in marriage, let alone her heart.
A Rake Like You is a shining example of Regency romance. The character development of both Charles and Louisa is executed beautifully, with both having their own flaws and misgivings that initially make them ill-suited to a relationship. It is a joy to witness them overcome their difficulties and rebuild the trust that was shattered when they first knew one another.
In particular, A Rake Like You does not shy away from real-life problems such as alcoholism, gambling, and infidelity. These struggles feel realistic as they crop up consistently throughout the book, rather than being used as merely an initial point of plot tension. Given that issues such as alcohol abuse are serious in nature, it demonstrates the author’s ability to write with sensitivity and nuance.
Louisa is a woman in a position of responsibility and skill, as she cares for the estate uncommonly left to her by her father. The respect given to her by Charles as she carries out these duties endears readers to them both and ensures their relationship is based on equality that feels realistic for the time, and still palatable for modern audiences.
Michaels’ skill with characters extends to secondary characters too. Each feels as though they are properly formed and well-rounded with their own independent arcs. For readers looking for a romantic world with a vast array of characters to discover and enjoy, you’re in the right place. I, for one, hope that Flora, Louisa’s younger sister, gets her own story in the future!
It’s a slow burn romance, so those who are looking to take their time with character and a steady arc will be delighted with this one. Along for the ride are plenty of swoon-worthy moments and beautiful declarations of emotion, like this one:
“I will make you a deal. I will give you my heart for the time being. You can look after it and do whatever you very well please with it. And when you are ready—and only when you are ready—you can give me yours in return. And I promise to look after it… I swear to you.”
For fans of the Regency period, the familiar beats of the drama of unrequited love, scandals in secluded corners, and the thrill of marriage proposals are present. But there is enough depth and variation from those patterns to sustain this book and others in its world. Fans of the Bridgerton novels by Julia Quinn are going to feel right at home with A Rake Like You.
Genre: Romance / Historical
Print Length: 360 pages
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