Mia Marlowe’s marvelous magic with words involves the reader in A Rake by Any Other Name from page one. Two strong personalities square off in a way that made me smile. They see the world from very different points of view. That the heroine, Sophie Goodnight, is no shrinking violet is quite clear. No pampered young lord is going to intimidate her.
Family machinations and social pressure of the ton have Richard Barrett, Lord Hartley, boxed in a corner that seems impossible to escape. His life is no longer his own. He’s come from flitting around the Continent spending money to shouldering the heavy financial burden of saving the family estate. The first thing he sees on his arrival home is some unknown young woman viciously pruning a rose bush his grandmother had planted years ago. Even worse, she shows no obsequiousness toward him. His friend Lawrence Seymour is amused but Richard is furious, which seems lost on the mutilator of his roses.
The symbolism of Sophie cutting away the dead and entangling canes of the rose bush so, hopefully, new growth can flourish sets the tone of her role in the unfolding drama that takes place at Somerfield Park. The old ways that worked at one time to keep the estate viable no longer get the job done. New ways must be embraced and she helps Richard find a new way, even though his elders are sure it will taint the family name. Her sharp mind and sharp tongue cut to the chase often as she and Richard spar.
Many characters that seem minor have much to do with how the plot unfolds. How Ms. Marlowe weaves them in keeps the reader totally involved in the many levels of doings at Somerfield Park. The reader needs to keep them all in mind, from the lowest level servant girl to the high and mighty Antonia Pruett that Richard planned to marry.
The changing times of the early 1800s in England, with tradesmen getting wealthy and the peerage finding it hard to maintain their holdings while struggling to hold on to a social structure that shows signs of decay , sets the scene and the temperament for A Rake by Any Other Name. There’s intrigue, secrets, evil intent, deception, humor, and, of course, the love scenes sizzle. EXCELLENT READING!
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