The Rake by Mary Jo Putney, 1998
I don’t know about you, but sometimes when I look at my TBR pile nothing reaches out and grabs me saying, “Read me! Read me!” So, what does a person do while waiting for new books to hit the stands? Well, they go back and reread some books they fondly remember. Sometimes they find out their memory has played them false in a bad way, but sometimes their memory hasn’t remembered how great something really is. That’s what happened in the case of Mary Jo Putney‘s The Rake. While I remember this book as good and I even have it on my 10 best romance novel list, I failed to remember how really good this books is! In fact, I think this book might just be pushing toward the number one spot on my list!
This book was originally written as The Rake and the Reformer in 1989, then years later some pages were added and it was released in 1998 as The Rake. Both books are wonderful, however since I just read The Rake this is the one I’m going to talk about.
Let’s start with that wonderful hero Reggie Davenport, who as of now has made it to my favorite hero list. What a flawed hero Ms. Putney has created in Reggie … he lost his entire family, was raised (sort of) by an extremely cruel man and has grown up to be a wastrel, a drunkard/alcoholic and a womanizer. He is just kind of floating along from one booze-filled day to another, living off of his cousin. Well, his cousin, Richard, has a plan. Richard, who by the way is the hero from The Diabolic Baron, cuts Reggie’s income off, however he also signs over to Reggie what at one time was the estate Reggie grew up in. This estate is making money, so he would have a living, but first he must learn how to manage it. While Reggie is not excited about taking responsibility on, he also knows that the life he is leading is killing him, and grudgingly goes. Besides that, how hard could all that land management be? After all he has an excellent land steward who has been doing all the hard work on his estate for years, A.E. Weston. Good ol’ A.E. Weston. OK, fellow romance readers, who do we think A.E. Weston is going to turn out to be? Well, of course A. stands for Alys – female! female! female!
Reggie and Alys are a wonderful, mature couple … there are no games played between the two, no silly misunderstanding, no cruel tricks, no spies, no vampires, shape-shifters, pirates or kidnappings. The Rake is a wonderful journey that begins with a friendship which slowly evolves into something more. Reggie and Alys are good together, they are like a pair of comfortable shoes. They are both intelligent, witty people. The dialog between these two was a thrill to read, the prose was beautiful. Along the way we get to find out the mysteries that surround Alys and we watch as Reggie struggles with his drinking problem. All of those mysteries and struggles blend seamlessly into the story. Both Alys and Reggie are wonderful characters, Alys is a strong, independent woman but longs for someone to stand beside her. Reggie is a charming generous man whose has a humongous struggle to overcome with alcohol.
The Rake is Mary Jo Putney’s masterpiece and is considered by many as an example of good classic romance. If you haven’t read this book, you should, and if you have read, well it’s time to dust it off and read it again. I promise you, you’ll love this story.
Also available electronically.