REVIEW: A Rake’s Guide to Seduction by Caroline Linden
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Dear Ms. Linden,
We’ve done lots of reviews of the previous books in this series. I had wondered if the younger sister of those heroes would find her true love. I’m happy to see that not only has she found him, but she’s found him again.
I’m coming, more and more, to enjoy a sweet, more gentle character study Regency. Don’t cloud the issue with spies or former spies or endless speculation about dancing at Almacks. Just give me two people who are trying to work out that age old question of “Do you love me?” If you’re going to set it in a certain era, make the details believable and specific for that time frame — or why bother to set it then — then let it happen.
Celia starts as a – let’s be honest – somewhat young and slightly silly heroine who’s got a bit of a crush on her older brother’s friend. But since she’s eighteen, I have no problems with that. She’s dazzled by finally being ‘out,’ falls for flash over substance and makes the kind of mistake that a lot of young girls still do.
I like that Bertram wasn’t turned into some eeevil man in order to further book plot and Celia’s unhappiness. The style of short engagement and how little she and he would know each other before marriage is enough of a real life estrangement for them. As Celia wonders, maybe if they had stayed in London things would have been better as they had enough to distract them from their unhappiness or maybe if they had married different people, things would have worked out. Her diary entries show a believable, slow decline in feelings for each other and I can understand how she’d want to hide her failure of a marriage from her nearest and dearest. After all, who wants to admit to such a disaster after your family has allowed you to choose for love?
While they may have been catty, I think Celia’s friends show the disappointment that must have been more evident in that age with arranged marriages and the quick, short engagement period of society weddings when couples never really had a chance to get to know each other. Instead of everyone finding “twue love” it’s a nice change. It also shows that Celia has matured enough to realize that the gossip she once so readily engaged in could be harmful – as she wonders if people are now gossiping about her.
Anthony is a nice hero. I know that might sound like a bland description but three cheers for a non-ahole guy. Despite what society thinks, he tries to do the right thing especially after he realizes he’s actually in love with Celia. Up to now he’s only thought of her as his friend’s little sister but once he ‘sees the light,’ he heads over to the Duke, states his case and then bucks up under the disappointing news that she’s already engaged. I like that Anthony doesn’t have ‘group hug,’ make up moment with his ‘father’ the Earl. There’s too much bad blood to easily erase so quickly.
I think Rosalind is nicely done – a loving mother who could also be a PITA as she tries to get Celia back into society and matched up – very normal and real life. Also, that Molly would have trouble getting along with her younger half-brothers Thomas and baby Edward. Very nice reality scenes. Thank you for not spending too much time spent with the earlier couples or no more than would be normal for people of the age and station in life. I find it interesting that David’s head groom is his brother-in-law.
It’s surprising that more wasn’t made of finding Celia and Anthony in the library. The place had been filled with gossip mongers from day one and all of a sudden they’re all Celia’s friends and won’t go back to London with this juicy gossip? Even if she is a widow, finding the host’s sister in flagrante delicto with a man not her husband would have made the tea rounds.
I found the subplots at the end with Lady Drummond and the attempt to take Celia hostage somewhat silly. Neither ‘goes’ with rest of the style of the book, they’re both too short and really, what was the point?
The book could have done with a little tightening and paring as things dragged a bit in the middle. I think it was realistic that Celia still needed some time to grow up before truly appreciating Anthony. How much life wisdom does the average 18 year old have? Not much. And this time she got to see her suitor in good light and bad, alone and in company so her choice carries more weight. Anthony also acknowledges that he couldn’t have adequately supported Celia those four years since his investments hadn’t paid off yet.
Overall, this is a nice ending to this series. A Regency with no spies and no PTSD wounded soldier hero is a treat. The scenes of intimacy are delish without being tasteless. I do wish that the title wasn’t so “blah” and generic. If I were looking at the book without having read any of the previous books, I might have been tempted to put it back on the store shelf without even giving it a try. B