Review: How to Ravish a Rake

How to Ravish a Rake
How to Ravish a Rake by Vicky Dreiling
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

SCANDALOUS DESIRES . . .

Amy Hardwick has one last Season to shake off her wallflower image and make a love match. If she can’t, she’ll set aside her dreams of romance and return home to a suitor who can provide security-if little else. What she doesn’t count on is the inappropriate-and irresistible-attention lavished on her in a darkened library by rake extraordinaire Will “The Devil” Darcett . . .

DEVILISH DELIGHT

When Will is caught in a tryst with the tons shyest miss, he knows he must offer for her hand. Yet Amy is not the shrinking violet she seems to be. Passion lies beneath her prim exterior and Will is eager to release it. But winning Amy isn’t simply a matter of seduction; first, Will must convince her that he’s mended his wicked ways

This is the third book in Vicky Dreiling’s inaugural How To series featuring Hawk’s brother Will and Amy (from the first 2 books). I did receive my copy as an ARC from the author.

Amy happens to be my favorite of Ms. Dreiling’s three heroines so far. She is an introverted thinker who must deal with a lot of social anxiety. This leaves her tongue tied in social situations and confused in larger crowds, which explains the idea that she is aloof, first mentioned in Duke. Amy is the type of heroine that many women can relate to. While insecure, she is strong enough to face it and begin to overcome it. She does so by using her natural talent as a way to move past her anxiety and relate to people, especially the ladies of the ton.

William, Hawk’s younger brother, has been living his life on the run from his family. He keeps his exploits public and is as charming as possible as a way of garnering attention, especially from his family. Will is like many overlooked children where any attention, even for bad behavior, is welcome. But he is conflicted because he fears his family’s intervention and disapproval due to his anger at them. Instead of confronting his family with his feelings, he prefers to stay away. This becomes impossible when Hawk cuts off his allowance and Will makes a major mistake in trying to garner funds. Despite his family issues, he is loyal, steadfast, and honorable.

Will and Amy’s story is endearing and refreshing. They are very different people who handle difficult feelings in the same way, withdrawal. Ms. Dreiling caught perfectly the swirl of emotions that anxiety can cause in a person and how it can easily rip apart the fragile self-esteem. Unlike other stories where both the heroine and hero have to go through extreme emotional upheaval to grow, Will and Amy gradually work their way through their problems. Despite them not knowing each other well, they quickly learn to rely on each other for strength and the importance of fully believing in each other.

It was an absolute thrill to finally read a book where when the twist comes, the hero and heroine act like rational mature adults instead of following the first emotional impulse that flits through their brain. Of course given both Amy and Will’s tendency to withdraw from adversity, it underscores their development and why they are so perfect for each other. As in her other two books, the hero and heroine compliment each others strengths and weaknesses and bring out the best in each other. The rapport between Amy and Will is light, witty and bewitching. Watching Will fall in love with Amy was utterly delightful and easily made this my favorite book of the series.

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Review: How to Seduce a Scoundrel

How to Seduce a Scoundrel
How to Seduce a Scoundrel by Vicky Dreiling
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a nice follow up to Vicky’s How To Marry a Duke. While I found duke to be witty with a lot of comedy elements, Scoundrel is more like an emotional rollercoaster. It is set about 9-10 months after the previous book at the beginning of the next season. The story starts with Tristan (hero from Duke) asking Hawk (as introduced in the previous book) to watch over his sister Julianne (also in previous book) for the season (due to Tessa – Duke’s heroine, is having a baby).

Julianna hasn’t changed much from the previous book, she is still impish and a bit immature. You find out more in the book regarding her insecurities stemming from her father’s rejection and how it colors all her actions. There were times I just wanted to shake her because of how she handled a situation, which made things worse. While she wears her emotions, she also hardens herself from even taking chances from fear of getting hurt. It is only over the course of the book that she can learn to actually love like a woman instead of girlish fantasy.

As for Hawk, he is a man who has deep remorse for his actions. He understands that he continues to hurt people (his mother and sisters) but is so caught up in his grief and remorse of his youthful actions that he cannot stop the endless of cycle. He clearly feels he can never overcome this single incident and does not deserve to. Hence why he also feels he can never act on his feelings for Julianne. Not only would it hurt his relationship with his family, but he feels completely unworthy of not only being happy but of being loved. By the end of the book (and through my entire 2nd reading) Hawk is the type of man that woman should want

While a deep dark secret that the hero has to overcome in his past stereotypical line for a romance novel, it is pulled of here with such emotion that tissues should be kept at hand. For about the last 20% of the book you watch Hawk not only confront his past but move on from it, while also getting a 2nd chance at what he never thought he would have. It is absolutely heart wrenching and the way he handles the entire situation underscores the type of person Hawk is.

It is not until these scenes that the reader understands why Julianne and Hawk had to tear apart their relationship in order to get their happily ever after. The Julianna at the beginning of the book would never had understood or accepted Hawk’s secret. She had to have her childhood ideals of him destroyed so she could see him as he is, a flawed man who’s made mistakes and needing helping moving forward from them. Her dellusions must come down in order for her to mature and be the person who helps him move forward. And you can watch Julianne change, look at her actions, and the consequences of them and both accept those consequences and try to prevent them.

I also adored the Character of Aunt Hester. For those that read Duke, she is the meddling busybody character that Tristan’s mother was. She was a perfect balance between Hawk and Julianne and I hope to see more of her in the next book.

I have read this novel twice, once before Duke and once after. While it can be read all by itself, the characters of the book have much more depth and come to life if you already know what goes on in the previous novel (as almost all the characters show up in Duke)

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The difference between reading a book stand alone and reading as part of a series

As I posted earlier I am a huge fan of serial books.  Like TV shows, many books today can be read stand alone (or in the tv analogy watched as a single episode).  For a TV, say like House you will understand and can enjoy the story, but you also miss things.  Like the inside jokes or why one character reacted to another in a specific way.  You can House in any order and things will still make sense, but if you watch the show from the 1st episode to the last, you get an entirely different TV show, with more depth of character and more consistency.

Books are no different. By reading a series of books in order one has an entirely different experience then if they read each book randomly.  Of course, for me, one of the hardest things to do is to reread a book.  I find the story does not flow as smoothly in subsequent reads as it does the first time, mostly because I know what is going to happen.  But I also find on subsequent reads that sometimes there are little things I overlooked or my perception of them has changed by information I gathered later on in the book.  And sometimes, I am finally reading the books in order and that changes things.

I am currently rereading Vicky Dreiling’s How To Seduce a Scoundrel.  Between the first time I read it a few months ago and now, I had the chance to read the first book in the series, How To Wed a Duke.  With the first go around, the book really only had three characters, Hawk (the hero), Julianne (heroine) and Aunt Hester (noisy busybody older woman).  All the other characters were superfluous.  I gained nor lost anything in the story by the presence or absence of anyone outside of Hawk and Julianne.  So much so that upon reading the How To Wed A Duke, some of the characters did not even register in my mind.  But now having read the 1st in the series, I have a whole new depth and understanding behind the characters and interactions in How to Seduce a Scoundrel.  For instance, Aunt Hester’s over the top behavior makes much more sense now.  She is not just a worldly nosy aunt who cares little of what people think of her anymore.  Because I now know the personalities of both Julianne’s mother and brother, Aunt Hester’s personality takes new meaning.  She must be bold and brassy in order to balance the strong personalities and influence of mother and brother.

In addition, I was able to understand better the relationship between Julianne, Georgette, and Amy now that I have read the first book.  The whole wine scene, after Hawk announces that Julianne is like a sister to him, transforms from merely the two other girls there in order to avoid having Julianne drinking alone, to a reflection of their personalities carried over from the previous book.  Instead of seeing Georgette’s remark to Amy that “She never would have thought of that” as being somewhat snide and childish, I can now appreciate the remark as a compliment to Amy and Georgette being sincere.  It will be interesting to see what other differences I notice between the two readings.

Do you reread books and notice any differences in your understanding of the characters and plot development between them?

Review: How to Marry a Duke

How to Marry a Duke
How to Marry a Duke by Vicky Dreiling
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Witty and charming. It was nice to see a story where the snobby girls get their comeuppance and those left in the competition were confident and acted like adults, instead of spoiled brats.

I did enjoy watching Tristan and Tessa preconceived notions about each other fall away over the course of the book. Both of them showing to be mature complicated adults trying to do the best they could to act honorable and overcome their ideas of their past. While unconventional, their romance was more of what one expects from two adults. Nothing overt and lacking huge romantic gestures (except at the end) but a mature relationship built on mutual respect, conversation, and shared ideas.

And that big romantic gesture at the end is about every girls dream and for Tristan to remember the message her father gave her mother everyday almost made my cry, it was so touching. And getting me to cry over a romantic gesture is almost next to impossible!

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