by Charlie Lane
If you’ve never read a Regency romance before, “Only Rakes Would Dare” by author Charlie Lane would be an entertaining introduction to the genre. This is the 5th book in ‘The Debutante Dares’ series. Although all the books have been excellent, I must admit this is my favorite one. The books in this series are somewhat interconnected, but each can be read as a standalone story.
Lady Edith was a particularly important secondary character in the previous book in the series. The forward behavior she exhibited was startling, and I was hoping to find out more about her. Well, this book really explains everything about her and her motivations. As the only girl in a family with five brothers and a father (collectively and only sometimes somewhat affectionately known as The Brutes), Edith feels that nobody really sees or understands her. For several reasons now, her father has decided she must get married before the year ends. If she doesn’t find a husband for herself, he or her eldest brothers will. Meanwhile, Griffin (Lord Eastern), has a slew of problems himself. His father is a dying reprobate who has decided that his one remaining son must marry an appropriate lady with all due haste. Failure to comply will result in the abhorrent old man punishing Griffin’s beloved mother. When Edith proposes an unusual alliance between Griffin and herself, at first Griffin thanks it seems ridiculous, but then it suddenly makes sense to him. As the story progresses, both main characters grow as individuals and in their depth of understanding of themselves and one another. There is much seriousness in this story, nicely balanced by some broad humor. There is a scene that takes place between Edith and her family members in a coach that is a perfect example of this type of juxtaposition.
This book is beautifully written. The author uses finely tuned language to create vivid scenes, multidimensional characters, witty banter, and clever dialogue. The social rules and gender expectations for members of the aristocracy in the Regency era were complicated and oppressive. I thought this story did a good job explaining how and why the lead characters coped in the ways that they did, and even why Edith’s family members thought they were doing the right thing by her when they were really hurting her. Bonny the dog was a fun and unexpected secondary character. Edith and Griffin definitely earned their ‘happy ever after’. I enjoyed this story and the surprises it contained. I’m looking forward to finding out what happens between Edith’s eldest brother and her best friend.