What made me pick this book was the novel idea of a proper, prim and otherwise perfectly pedigreed young lady of the ton having a naughty bucket list and the determination to do it all before she’s potentially leg shackled to a royal husband. How is she going to pull it off? And what kinds of things does an innocent maiden think are decadent? It was interesting to find out.
Serena is a very strong willed and adventurous lady. Unfortunately for her, the very first time she tries to check an item off of her list, she gets found out, gets covered in some type of orange cream and ends up enlisting the aid of a very rakish gentleman. The book only gets more madcap and interesting from there. I think the authors had a fun time torturing the heroine.
A lot of the meatiest torture comes from the internal angst felt by the hero, Sir Jonah Sharp. His is not an altruistic interest at all and the reasons for that slowly come to light as the story gets told. At first he’s more like a puppet dancing to someone else’s tune. But as with all good romance stories, love gives the hero a different kind of conflict and the motivation to find a way out of the mess he’s gotten himself into.
The threats against their relationship notwithstanding, the romance experiences baby steps in growth, most happening when Lady Serena’s endeavors go awry and the hero sees a side of the heroine he never expected. She’s a woman with brains, fortitude and a sense of fun not to mention a devious interest in all things sensual. When the two of them get together in various levels of sensuality, touches and seduction, it made for entertaining reading.
Dialogue both external and internal, between the main or secondary characters seemed to fit, kept the plot moving and revealed key insights into the hero and heroine when needed.
Although Serena is as strong a woman as she can be for the times, she still does something that smacked of cliché. I almost wanted to give up reading the book at that point because I knew it was going to happen and I really hoped it wouldn’t. And yet, it did and despite that, I kept reading because the authors hooked me enough with the conflict that I needed to find out how in the world it was going to work out. I’m glad I did because what happened at the family estate was nothing short of surprising. Granted, Serena’s pleas to Jonah didn’t impress me and I rolled my eyes at that point but otherwise it was a satisfying resolution to the dilemma. The author’s wrap up sentences regarding that choice made it clear that many other characters in the story did find the solution more than adequate. I guess I’m outnumbered.
The authors did provide a wonderful happy ever after to round out the adventure. In fact it could be said what goes around, comes around and it was rather humorous. An interesting tidbit is the final page where the authors shared with readers the history and inspiration behind this story and the previous two. I hadn’t read the others and did not feel I was missing anything in this current tale. This is most definitely a standalone read.
Between a Rake and a Hard Place is not only a clever book title, it’s a devious and unique story and a fun romance. Historical romance fans will find many things to delight them because Serena is just so unusual. Jonah might be a rake in the beginning but he’s a man who knows his own mind and I greatly enjoyed the scene with Serena’s father. That showed me Jonah’s strength of character. I was entertained by this novel, and for readers looking for a romance with a little light drama that is mostly character driven, this might be the book to read.
Editor's note: This article was originally published at Long and Short Reviews. It has been republished with permission. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.