A Good Rake is Hard to Find by Manda Collins

April 30, 2015
As Marlon Brando said in The Wild Ones "Mumble, mumble, mumble, I could slap you around to show you how good you are mumble, mumble, mumble, I'm someplace else and I don't even know you or nothing. Mumble, mumble, mumble."

I have never been a big fan of movies/television shows/books about motorcycle gangs, especially after seeing the classic, hysterically funny, The Wild Ones. (By the way, it's not supposed to be funny.) So, when I opened Manda Collins' latest regency series and found out that the series was about a curricle racing group of guys calling themselves the Lords of Anarchy, the first thought that popped into my head was, "how silly," followed closely by a groan and the strong desire to put the book aside. I didn't put the book down, I persevered, but there were times - even while reading it - I almost put it down. I found the romance clumsy, the story telling uneven and the curricle racing gang not really as dangerous as - oh, I don't know - a real bad guy group like Hell's Angels. The whole premise of a secret society curricle racing bunch of guys just didn't work for me. They were more horrible frat guys than anything else. They had some kind of ludicrous initiation. They had secrets, they raced, they boxed, they had orgies (I guess), and more secrets. Oh sure, they murdered someone, Jonathan, our heroines brother. They murdered him because he knew their secret or he knew they boxed or he was going to leave the club or something. By the end of the book, I still wasn't quite sure what the secret was or why he was murdered. And, the villains didn't receive an adequate punishment. They were shipped off to the Island of Misplaced Villains.

Lord Frederick Lisle aka Freddy. While I cringe when heroes are named Lance, Saber, Blade, Rod, Dirk, I also had a hard time accepting a manly man hero named Freddy. Usually, in romance books Freddy is the goofy side kick or obnoxious brother. When we are first exposed to Freddy, I had already formed an opinion of him based solely on his name. Should I have done that? Probably not, but I did. As the book moved along, he did become more masculine. However, I continued to have a problem with the name. 

We are also introduced to two other men in the beginning: the Duke of Trent and the Earl of Mainwaring and they are members of the opposing curricle racing club, The Four Horse Club or as they call themselves the FHC. Evidently, they are the good club, they must not race or box or womanize - right. Anyway, they are all friends of the dearly departed Jonathan Craven and they are suspicious of the manner of his death. They think the only way to find out how their friend Jonathan died is to have Freddy infiltrate the group. I thought infiltrate was rather an odd word to use, seeing as how Freddy's cousin Sir Gerald Fincher was the head of the Anarchy group and Freddy made no attempt to hide what he was doing.

Added to that storyline was Leonora Craven, Jonathan's sister. By the way she was also the ex-fiancĂ© of Freddy, and she's also suspicious of Jonathan’s manner of death and she must find a way to infiltrate the Anarchy club, so it's only logical that she pretend to be Freddy's fiancĂ© and they both will spy on the bad guys. Here's the thing: even with alllll the supposed secrecy and supposed nefarious things going on, the people in the bad curricle gang knew right away what Leonora and Freddy were up to. On top of that, Leonora and Freddy's idea of covert operation was just a manner of asking questions, and not very sly questions at that. So, the murder mystery wasn't mysterious, there wasn't any cat and mouse things going on. No thrills, no chills, no nothing.

Then there's the romance. While Eleanor might have been an interesting character. By the way, she has a secret reason for breaking her previous engagement to Freddy. I do have to ask why she became engaged to him in the first place since she had her "secret" before the engagement. Spoiler. Her secret is that she’s infertile. How does she know? She had a miscarriage and her golden vessel doesn’t work anymore, or so she's been told. However, she already knew all of this when she accepted his proposal and then later on broke the engagement because of it. Didn't make a whole lot of sense. 

Anyway, allll through the book we get to read how Eleanor cannot marry Freddy because she cannot give him an heir. She doesn't tell him why. However, I didn't really care because Freddy had about all the emotions of a wet noodle. Unlike other heroes who have problems containing their overactive Toad-guy, his Mr. Toad doesn't put in an appearance. Freddy is hardly ever excited, he just bland. There isn't any chemistry between Freddy and Eleanor - no spark - nothing.

This book took me a long time to read and I'm sorry to say I just really cannot recommend it. A lot of things didn't make sense, the bad guys weren't dangerous enough, the villain gets to have some vacation time in Europe, the mystery wasn't mysterious, the danger wasn't dangerous and the romance didn't have any sparkle.

Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality: Ho-hum hot

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