Nineteen year old Anna has finally come home from school to the unwanted drunken advances of her stepfather, and an even more unwanted arranged marriage. Having spent too much time in school reading Lord Byron's poems, Anna seeks out adventure just like in Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, and she intends to start her adventures by becoming a paid companion. Unfortunately, she misses the stage that is to take her to her new life, and is nearly raped by three young lordlings when she is rescued by Giles.
Giles is bored with everything in London, especially his clinging mistress and the attempts of one very particular marriage minded mama constantly trying to compromise her daughter with him. Rescuing the naïve and refreshing Anna and seeing her safely to her new employer is the most fun Giles has had in years. He is anything but bored when he is with Anna, and when he meets up with her again in Brighton, he has to fight off other men just to get near her.
I'm not really sure what I thought of The Rake's Challenge. It was very tame, even more so that the traditionals we Regency readers cut our teeth on but, it also had an overabundance of melodrama in it. In every chapter there was another intrigue going on with Anna in the middle of it needing once again to be rescued by Giles. For someone who was looking for adventure she was extremely naïve.
The lady Anna worked for was a very kind lady but, her daughter and nephew weren't. Those two kept trying to push Anna in the arms of the Prince Regent so that they could use her for their nefarious plans, although, it was only the nephew who was the true villain and it was never explained whether or not the lady's daughter had beforehand knowledge of her cousin's plans. Throw in Giles's ex-mistress, who won't let go, and a catty miss who pretends to befriend Anna then throws her under the bus, so to speak, and I was exhausted by the end of the book just trying to keep up with all the intrigues.
Oh, and Anna's deep, dark secret mentioned in the blurb? Is neither dark, nor that much of a secret and was just another instance of how naïve Anna was. I really felt kind of sorry for her, which I'm sure is not how the author meant to portray her heroine. Anna was always just so polite, she didn't show a lot of emotion, nor did she have a lot of character. Giles was a decent guy, and at least he had a bit more depth to him, unfortunately the writing fell flat for me and I couldn't get into the story.
I think I would have enjoyed The Rake's Challenge a lot more had there been more meat to the story, and more depth to the characters, and the writing. It wasn't a bad story, it just didn't spark my interest, and I did want it to. However, if you enjoy very tame Regency era stories and are missing the traditional Regencies, then The Rake's Challenge might be the book for you.
Reviewed by: Valarie Pelissero