How to Romance a Rake features a rakehell who isn't as rakish as everyone believes, who is only trying to live down his father's devilish reputation; and a heroine, who because of her limp, has been led to believe she isn't worthy of any man's notice. These two characters are truly perfect for one another. They may not see the best in themselves but, they do see the best in each other and they make the other whole.
Alec, Lord Deveril, is a man who, instead of trying to live down his father's nasty reputation, proved to the ton that he was different—more honorable—and he was welcomed everywhere. Unfortunately, while everyone believes he is nothing like his late father, he himself believes himself to be too much like his late sire. So much so, that he doesn't believe he can make any woman happy, and he harbors a dark secret about the night his mother died.
Lady Juliet Shelby has never been as beautiful as her mother, and definitely would not have taken London by storm when she made her debut but, after a very serious carriage accident in Vienna which left her with much more than a limp, Juliet has been downtrodden even more by her mother and forced to hide the extent of her accident, and neglected by her father. Her only support is her two cousins, also dubbed the “Ugly Ducklings” by one particularly spiteful debutante. Ever since returning from Vienna Juliet has taken great pains to never be noticed, yet all of a sudden she has been noticed by Alec, while her mother is pushing a particularly horrid match on her.
Alec is another hero who doesn't want a passionate marriage because of his parents' union. I think we've all read this type of hero before but, there was something different about Alec. Alec is actually thinking of pursuing Juliet's cousin when he stumbles upon a distressed Juliet and agrees to help her find her missing friend, and music mentor. All throughout the story Alec was a wonderfully sweet, and very decent hero, and I really liked his character. When Juliet's mother informs her that she will be given to the man who makes her skin crawl, with or without the benefit of marriage, Alec steps in and saves Juliet, thoroughly compromising her in the process. Naturally, there is a quick trip to Gretna Green for the pair where not only does Alec rescue Juliet once again from her scheming mother, he also discovers Juliet's deep dark secret. Alec may not have wanted a wife for whom he had strong feelings but, that didn't stop him from rescuing the woman he quickly fell in love with while aiding her in her quest to find her missing friend.
Once again Manda Collins has provided this reader with a refreshing story that is landing on my keeper shelf along with her debut book. Not only were there more twists and turns to the mystery this time around, she gives us a villain whom I didn't see coming and was truly insane, all while providing readers with a heartwarming and lovely romance between Alec and Juliet.
I could have hoped that Juliet's mother got more of a comeuppance than she did, however, despite that minor bit, How to Romance a Rake is a wonderfully moving story about two damaged people coming together to form a unique bond. Manda Collins is now on my auto-buy list, and I can't wait for the final book in this series. Don't miss How to Romance a Rake, put it on the top of your must-read list.
Reviewer: Valarie Pelissero