Thursday, September 13, 2012

Review: How to Romance a Rake by Manda Collins

I'm read this for the September is for Sequels Reading Challenge hosted by Lisa Loves Literature. ^_^

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Juliet Shelby is one of the three Ugly Ducklings, daughters of the Fabulous Featherstones who, unfortunately, did not inherit their mothers' famed beauty. Of the three, Juliet has more to overcome -- a childhood accident has left her crippled and changed. She's more quiet and somber and prefers to fade into the background.

And Juliet would have been content to live the rest of her days there, until a chance meeting with Alec, Lord Deveril, lights a spark in her.

And, for the first time in her life, she dares to dream of dancing and talking to a handsome lord ... and to step out of the shadows of being a wallflower.

But Juliet's mother has other plans: she's determined to keep Juliet and Juliet's secret in the shadows and pushes for Juliet's marriage to Lord Turlington -- a lord and a painter of very disquieting subjects. O_O

When I was reading this book, I kept thinking that Juliet wasn't as interesting as her cousins Cecily and Madeline -- the only thing that defined her was her limp. Then I realized that this was part of Juliet's story -- she really is the plainest of the three and her limp really defines her life (not by her own choosing -- her mother has a hand in this).

Similar to the ugly duckling fairy tale, Juliet's transformation is a natural result -- no magic was required (well, love is magical. ^_^) -- she simply needed room to breathe and to be given a chance to be herself. And Alec was the mirror that reflected her and made her realize her value.

Manda Collins also weaves an intriguing mystery -- Juliet's piano teacher/mentor and dear friend, Anna, disappears and her disappearance is followed by news of other missing women. Alec and Juliet work together to uncover who the mastermind is. (It surprised me when I found out who it was but, reading back, I realize that Collins has left enough clues behind to make the answer believable.)

I have one small quibble about the story -- Alec is supposed to be a rake but, throughout the story, he behaves perfectly. (And even his backstory suggests that he makes an effort to live along the straight and narrow.)

Alec's only sin is one of self-absorption: too caught up in keeping up appearances and making certain that he lived a life that was different from his father's --

I thought he and Juliet were perfectly suited, despite outward appearances. I liked how Alec's story contrasts with Juliet's -- this is not a one-sided story but one that shows that Alec also gains a lot from loving and being loved by Juliet. Juliet may have been a swan underneath the ugly duckling exterior but Alec was an ugly duckling hiding behind a swan facade. ^_^

There was no denying that the Viscount Deveril was a breathtakingly beautiful man.

A man who had just spent a quarter of an hour kissing her senseless.

"I should apologize for that," Alec said, his back still turned to her. "But I find I cannot."

"Good," Juliet said. "Because if you apologized I would be forced to apologize too. But I find I cannot."

He turned, a wry smile at his mouth. "A fine pair of repentants we are," he said.
p. 113-114

This was a great follow-up to Cecily's story, How to Dance With a Duke. The third book, How to Entice an Earl (Madeline's story) will be released in February 2013.

To find out more about Manda Collins and her books, visit her website. She's also on Facebook.



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