Waking Up with a Rake by Connie Mason and Mia Marlowe

January 10, 2012
"Agog are all, both old and young
Warm'd with desire to be prolific,
And prompt with resolution strong,
To fight in Hymen's wars terrific."
- The Disappointed Duke; or the Admiral and the Heiress by Peter Pindar aka John Wolcott, 1818

Awake on all suits! You know it doesn't take me long to figure out sir. When I picked up Waking Up with a Rake, I thought it was an anthology, because there are two authors' names on the cover. About a 150 pages into the book, my mind is saying, hey, one of these authors is going to get the big shaft. But then the ol' light bulb went off...oh, could it possibly be a collaboration? Turns out it was. Connie Mason (who I've never read) and Mia Marlowe worked together to put together a pretty impressive book. I'm always intrigued by the mechanics of established authors working together. I know one author being creative is a struggle, but two...that would be interesting to watch.  I wonder who is the one who gives in first.

So, after I figured out that this book was about only one couple, I could relax and enjoy the story of a tortured hero whose mission is to ruin our heroine - to seduce her, make her impure so that probably one of the most depraved of the Hanoverian princes (Clarence) will not want her as a wife (although, most of the Hanoverian brothers were a tad bit loose). This story is based on a real historical occurrence, the race (Hymen's War Terrific 1818) to impregnate a woman and grab the throne of England by the Dukes of Clarence, Kent and Cambridge. And, for those who don't know, Clarence later would be king (William some number), however, it is Kent who succeeds in producing an heir (Victoria).

Our hero Rhys, is a rake - not your standard sweet-smelling Georgette Heyer rake, but the more grittier Anne Stuart kind of rake. The kind of guy you find fascinating, but isn't really the kind of guy you want to become involved with. Yes, he's really hot! And, he comes with some baggage to boot. He's been branded a coward, cut off from his family, carries some heavy battleground guilt, and is being blackmailed to seduce an innocent. Did I mention he's hot?  Then we have our heroine, Olivia. While Olivia may be an innocent, that doesn't mean she's stupid; she just doesn't know what goes where...but she's willing to learn. I loved this couple: their dialogue was fun and mostly they were honest with each other. Except, of course for the reason he's there in the first place, which adds a little tension to the story, because we all know eventually she's going to find out, but how will she handle it when she finds out? I know, but I'm not going to tell. I liked the little twists and turns in the relationship and how they worked their problems out - for the most part. There were just a couple of times I thought Olivia's reaction was a little "jump to the wrong conclusion." Rhys answering every problem with seduction bordered on the sordid. But, mainly I thought they made a great couple and it was a good romance.

There was also a bit of mystery and a villain I didn't suspect. I did have a few qualms about the reason for the villain doing what he/she was doing. This particular villain came awfully close to a Saturday morning cartoon; I could almost hear Daffy Duck sputtering in the background. However, other than those few bumps, I thought this was a fast-paced, enjoyable book and I am definitely putting the next two in the series on my list of must-haves.

Time/Place: 1818 England
Sensuality: Really Hot!!

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