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Once Upon a Rake*

Transformation and Reformation

We meet the hero and heroine, Lucian and Ellie respectively, years before the main body of the book takes place. She is a teenager who’s had a crush on him, and she follows him around like a puppy. On a fateful night during a ball, he ruined her with a kiss witnessed by her father. She is forced to marry an earl who is her father’s friend. Coming back to England after globe-hopping with her now-dead husband, the widowed countess is looking forward to taking charge of her late husband’s affairs. One of them is a mill owned by none other than Lucian. Both have changed considerably in the years since they’ve seen each other. She holds her head high with a measure of confidence gained from being a nobleman’s wife and her travels, and he’s been knocked down a peg or two because of a grizzly injury.

Has the rake reformed, reviled by polite society? What will he think of Ellie’s interference with his business? Can they both move past what went before?

Lucian was a hard hero to appreciate. He indeed was a rake back in the day and had such dismissive, unkind thoughts of the heroine when they were younger. When they meet up again, he’s still a bit of a jerk. I want my hero to be a little more likable. I did find it interesting, though, to watch Ellie’s transformation from lovesick girl to countess. Even though much of that takes place offscreen, you can tell that it was not a straight path for her to come from what she was to who she is. While she’s no longer a little mouse, she’s not quite an imposing countess either. From what little we know of her earlier, this evolution seems completely natural. She continues to grow and change as she deals with Lucian and works with her late husband business interests.

If you don’t mind a story with a rake who doesn’t reform quite quick enough, you might enjoy this book.