LORD OF THE RAKES – Darcie Wilde
Berkley Sensation
ISBN-13: 978-0-425-26555-0
February 2014
Historical Romance

London, England – Early 1800's

Lady Caroline Delamarre can't believe the information in her hands; a solicitor has written that her mother left her a trust after her death worth ten thousand pounds a year.  When her friend Fiona Rayburn comes and tells her she is getting married soon and wants Caroline in her wedding, in London of all places, Caroline is beside herself.  For some reason her mother always seemed ill, and neither of them was ever allowed to leave their country house by Caroline's father, saying they were too delicate to go to London.  That's not to say that her mother didn't try to teach her about London society, pretending to make home visits in their country house.  Since her father died, the only times Caroline ever escaped her house was to carefully chaperoned activities with Fiona and her parents.  But Caroline knows her brother, Jarrett Delamarre, Earl Keenesford, will never allow her to leave, and she must carefully plan her escape.  It could also be the gossip from Fiona about a man called “Lord of the Rakes” that grabs Caroline's imagination.  Perhaps he is the one to start her on her life of freedom. She's determined to never marry and to become an adventuress and move to France after Fiona's wedding.

Philip has just ended his relationship with Mrs. Warrick after catching her with another man.  For almost the first time Philip was almost sorry to see it end.  That certain evening, he lets his friend Gideon talk him into a house party instead of gambling and drinking.  There, he is drawn to a lady in an amber dress and notices she also sees him.  He gets introduced to this vision, and is soon surprised with a letter from the woman asking to meet him outside.  How unusual for a woman to pursue him!  In the coming days as Philip works his wiles on Caroline, he soon finds that she is more than a lover, and could be actually changing his views of himself and his own family.

Caroline is determined to live life on her own terms, and who better to start her life of freedom than the Lord of the Rakes, with a reputation even her friend Fiona warns her about?  Caroline remains scared that in the blink of an eye her brother can take her trust away from her, and Philip soon realizes he was living a life so boring he doesn't know how he ever stood it.  Could two people determined to live lives of their own design come together in love?

Darcie Wilde has an interesting story of a couple coming together despite being from totally different worlds.  Caroline has been kept in the country knowing only what Fiona has told her of London society.  Philip Montcalm is determined never to leave his life in London with the available women and activities that interest him.  Told from their points of view, Caroline yearns for freedom.  Philip only thinks that perhaps Caroline will fill the place of his latest mistress, Mrs. Warrick.  Despite their differences, both of them change their life because of the other.

Secondary characters are Jarrett, Caroline's brother, and Philip's brother Owen, and his Aunt Judith, who has the information about Caroline's mother's history.  Lewis Banbridge is Jarrett's friend who wants to marry Caroline for her money, and Mrs. Ferriday is Caroline's most loyal personal attendant.  Mrs. Warrick is determined to win Philip back, after going a little too far in trying to keep him devoted to her.

LORD OF THE RAKES has all the earmarks of an interesting historical novel.  There are the society rules which everyone must take care to observe, and the burgeoning relationship between Caroline and Philip, with each of them determined not to get serious about the other.  Will this be the downfall of the Lord of the Rakes?

Carolyn Crisher