A Beginner's Guide to Rakes by Suzanne Enoch

October 10, 2011

You can color me sad, you can color me blue, you can color me unimpressed, you can color me surprised, you just can't Color me Barbra.

I have had an epiphany about myself! I give authors all kinds of latitude when it comes to historical romance novels. Contrary to what it may seem, I'm not really one of those readers that go into a tizzy when historical accuracy and historical romance books don't match - especially in the language and slang department. Let's get serious here - I would probably have a really hard time understanding just what was being said in a novel that was written in the phraseology of the time. So, when I'm reading historical romance and 21st century words/slang slither their way into the story I don't mind - IF I am enjoying the story. However, if I find the story to be less than satisfactory, weird words just start popping out at me and I start to nitpick. I knew I was in trouble with this book when the slang "color me unimpressed" jumped off the page at me. Color me unimpressed! Really! Can anyone really hear those words falling out of Elizabeth Bennet's mouth? So, it was at this point I knew I was losing interest in the story. Oh, and by the way, "calling a kettle black" was legitimate because the term was first recorded by William Penn in the 1600's. However, I did spend the time looking it up, which still means I was having trouble with the book.

So, why did I lose interest in a story by one of my favorite authors? Well, not only did I lose interest, but I was mightily irritated by the two main characters who happen to dwell within the pages of this book. Yessiree, the more I read the more I disliked Oliver and Diane. Let's examine why this book almost hit the wall. And, yes there are spoilers ahead.

Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but I have always been of the opinion that since time immemorial, most men have always tried to put their Mr. Toads in any woman who will let them, or as a friend of mine says, "men would screw a snake if it had knees." And, most men do this without any thought to love, promises, commitment, fidelity. Now, we as women know this... we have it hammered into our head from childhood - don't do any whankey-roo until you have that ring on your finger. Or, words to that effect. So, it is my belief that a woman of the 19th century would have the same armor as we do in this century. Which is why it was beyond my comprehension as to why the heroine in this story reacted to being dumped the way she did. She is a widow of a week or two and she jumps into the bed of a renowned rake and has mind-blowing hot sex for almost two weeks. Then, when he leaves her she is surprised, hurt and turns into this angry bitter woman. T-w-o years later when these two run into each other again, she is still a bitter person and for some reason he is a tad bit hateful. I didn't get it. Unless the heroine was some kind of obsessive psychotic maniac, her reaction was way over the top. And then the bickering, sniping, I hate you routine begins and lasts for-e-v-e-r. I just wanted to bang their heads together. Mix into the antagonism a convoluted "let's set a trap for the villain" plot and an implausible building of a gambling house and genteel women applying for the jobs; is it any wonder I was looking things up in a slang dictionary. And, by the way, even though there may have been text that was considered a thesaurus in ancient Greece, it wasn't until 1852 that the first Roget's Thesaurus was actually published, even though he was compiling it in 1805 - so the mention of a thesaurus list in the book was another throw-out-of-the-story-moment.

I am assuming that there are more books in this series since there were some very interesting secondary characters wandering through the story and I will of course be buying and reading those. Suzanne Enoch is a wonderful writer and usually I love her books, but this one was a struggle and I was very disappointed in the main characters. Better luck next time.

Time/Place: Regency England or thereafter, I think...we are never given any dates, but Napoleon is mentioned - so some time before 1821.
Sensuality Rating: Hot


Melanie said...


Are you kidding me?! I haven't read it, but it's on my T/buy and it's SUZZANE freakin' ENOCH! Shit! Shit! Shit!
Pardon my French! I'm going to skip it...

Love every one of your reviews ;)


SidneyKay said...

Melanie: Yes, I was bummed big time. I was looking forward to this book so much...Suzanne Enoch is one of my favorites!!!!

Anonymous said...

Actually, I thought the heroine made it pretty clear that it wasn't the hero's actions only that led her to her wish for independence. She also blamed her own naivete in thinking that she should have expected something different from him; that he was but the last in a series of things, beginning with her husband. The hero's grovel at the end, and his comments throughout the story, suggest that she did have some reason for complaint. Whether her attitude, any more than the "color me" bit fits the time of the setting doesn't seem, to me, sufficient reason to withhold approbation from the story, for within the story, her characterization seemed all of a piece, and certainly allowed for some really good dialogue.

IMO, readers who don't read it, will have missed an highy entertaining hour or two.


SidneyKay said...

Dick: You are correct...everyone has a different opinion as to what they like in books. And, if someone wants to read this book, then they should. And, maybe they'll like the book better than I did. Also, I read tons of book with language problems and if I like those books I don't have a problem with the language. It's just that if I find numerous things that I object to, then I will start nit-picking on other things such as slang/language.

SidneyKay said...

P.S. Dick: Good to hear from you again

Hilcia said...

Thanks for the review. I have this book in my "to buy" list. I like Enoch. Let's see how it works for me. :)

Melissa said...

It took me three weeks to finish this book. I enjoy Suzanne Enoch, but I struggled with this story. And I absolutely detested the trick-the-bad-guy storyline at the end. I felt the guy was TSTL if he bought into their lies, plus he seemed a whiny pathetic bad guy.