Rakes and Radishes
by Susanna Ives
I gotta say that Susanne Ives is a better writer than this book lets on. Carina Press has been impressing me with the quality of their ebooks, but I think they could still use a few detail oriented editors to help push these books to a higher level of quality because Rakes and Radishes just needed some serious editing help.
Henrietta Watson is the daughter of two geniuses: an astronomer and a mathematician. She herself is a human calculator and has worked with her father to help prove that there is a planet that hasn't yet been discovered. But her heart isn't into science. It's into love and gothic heroes like the ones in her romance novels. Spoiled, willful, and selfish, she can't wait to escape the country life with her cousin and romantic poet Edward. She's done with provincials like her, until lately, best friend the Earl of Kesseley, and his talk of pigs, crops, and manure. She wants the excitement and romance of London!
Kesseley has loved Henrietta for as long as he can remember. He has been working for years to rebuild the fortunes and land his father squandered before his passing. Now that he has succeeded all he wants to do is settle down with Henrietta and raise children while working the land. But Henrietta is young and selfish and has crushed his heart, and yet, he still dreams of a day that they can be together. He knows he's too soft-hearted. That's why he has a one-armed, color blind valet, and spends most of his spare time thatching roofs and hand feeding baby birds who have fallen out of nests.
Enough! I've barely even scratched the surface of this book and trying to sort out the plot is making me upset all over again. This books suffers from an excess of plot which leads to all the characters being schizophrenic. Henrietta (who I pretty much hated) starts out as a spoiled user of poor Kesseley, but then suddenly she discovers that she loves him while at the same time he decides he's going to start being a rake and a user himself to get back at her. She tells him she loves him and he rebuffs her. I can understand this since she's been freaking TERRIBLE to him, but why he starts actually losing all sense of his moral compass I don't get. This is a hero(?) who was literally hand feeding wounded birds and then is suddenly whoring, gambling, and being cruel - WTF?! Not to mention Kesseley's mom, her troubled past, Kesseley's troubled past with his dad, a German also vying for Henrietta's hand, a dog, and this whole seeking to prove a new planet business. Whew. I'm exhausted just trying to keep it all straight.
And yet, the writing is really good. Even with all my frustration for the characters and the story I wanted to keep reading. I may actually be being extra hard on this book because it's written so well, and yet so poorly all at the same time. So much of what's wrong with Rakes and Radishes (including the stupid title) should have been fixed by a good editor - hell even a mediocre one.
Bottom Line: Although I can't recommend you read this, I also can't recommend you don't. If you do, understand that it will be a partially enjoyable, yet totally frustrating, time.
“A country bumpkin becomes a rake so he can win his lady.”
September 2010, 274 pages
Publisher: Carina Press
When Henrietta Watson learns that the man she loves plans to marry London's most beautiful and fashionable debutante, she plots to win him back. She'll give him some competition by transforming her boring bumpkin neighbor, the Earl of Kesseley, into a rakish gothic hero worthy of this Season's Diamond.
After years of unrequited love for Henrietta, Kesseley is resigned to go along with her plan and woo himself a willing bride. But once in London, everything changes. Kesseley - long more concerned with his land than his title - discovers that he's interested in sowing wild oats as well as radishes. And Henrietta realizes that gothic heroes don't make ideal husbands. Despite an explosive kiss that opens her eyes to the love that's been in front of her all along, Henrietta must face the possibility that Kesseley is no longer looking to marry at all...