Friday, August 16, 2013

Review: If You Give a Rake a Ruby by Shana Galen

Click here to buy the book on Amazon

Fallon is a celebrated beauty, called the Marchioness of Mystery because very little is known about her: was she the daughter of a maharaja? Or a gypsy? No one, not even her closest friends, knows the complete story of Fallon -- but Warrick Fitzhugh, former agent of the Foreign Office, found a way to discover some of the truths about Fallon.

It's interesting that other men wanted to get close to Fallon and know her secrets, as though she were some uncharted territory to be conquered -- but Warrick had a more practical reason for doing so: he believes Fallon is the key to unraveling the mystery of Lucifer's diamonds -- and he needs her help in finding them.

Rough vs Polished. One image persisted as I was reading through the second installment of Shana Galen's Jewels of the Ton series: the contrast of rough and polished, of Fallon and of Warrick. Fallon is good manners and charm and Warrick is gruff and abrupt -- his years away from London has tarnished his social polish, but he doesn't care what the Ton (and his family) think of him.

The diamond is the hardest substance from nature and can only be polished and cut by another diamond -- and that is what happens with Fallon and Warrick: little by little, Fallon chips away at Warrick's rough exterior and discovers the many facets of Warrick: the wounded soldier who still carries with him the ghosts of the war. Fallon is the balm that calms and centers Warrick when he cannot contain the demons he hides within him. With Fallon, Warrick has found the courage to face the guilt and burden of his past.

And Fallon isn't unaffected either: the secrets of Lucifer's diamonds is inadvertently tied to the secrets of Fallon's past -- a past she would rather forget. She begins the adventure reluctantly but becomes more and more involved when she realizes what is at stake. Fallon believed that her past has made her immune to love and to matters of the heart -- but her encounter with Warrick has pushed open the doors to her well-guarded heart.

... Fallon has never really believed in love. Her father hadn't loved her mother. He'd used her charms to run scams or make ends meet. And her mother hadn't loved her father. She'd been a dim woman who needed a man to tell her what to do.

Fallon hadn't loved either of her parents. She thought she'd fallen in love once, but the experience had taught her she'd been right all along.

There was no such thing as love.
- loc 117

Rough vs Polished. Part of Fallon's problem is that, surprisingly, she has a very low sense of worth -- she puts up a strong front but, deep inside, Fallon is too aware of her lack of intelligence, lack of breeding -- her general lack of everything. While Fallon was all shiny and polished on the outside, her insides were anything but.

"Enigmatic." He lifted his goblet and studied the wine. "I like that word." His eyes met hers. "You're described that way, aren't you?"

She was. That was how she'd first learned the word. The countess had made Fallon read and study for hours and hours when she first went to live with the Sinclairs. The countess said that no one would ever take her seriously or consider her anyone or anything if she didn't learn to speak and write correctly. And so Fallon learned, but there were still words that were unfamiliar. Words like moue. She didn't know what the hell it was, but she was pretty sure she didn't do it.
- loc 1285 - 1299

Her awareness does not deter Fallon from pursuing a life -- and she has successfully done so. She has friends, she has modest connections -- but she didn't realize that there was an empty spot in her until Warrick came along. This realization both opened her eyes and slapped her in the face -- and Fallon struggles as her life takes on a different shape and new facets are cut into her.

...She saw herself with a house full of children. She saw mornings of slow, leisurely lovemaking, and nights spent asleep in his arms.

And none of it would ever come to pass because she was not good enough for the son of an earl. Even if she wasn't really a courtesan, she was still no one. She couldn't even claim her father was a respectable shopkeeper.
- loc 2436 - 2450

Rough vs Polished. Shana Galen emphasizes this distinction throughout her narrative -- but what I loved about Galen's take on this is that she doesn't play up the opposites-attract/clash plotline but that opposites complement, like yin and yang -- two distinct parts make a whole.

How Galen continues the Lucifer's diamonds storyline and how she developed the romance between Fallon and Warrick makes this a wonderful addition to her Jewels of the Ton series. I also love the role Lily plays in this story.

If You Give a Rake a Ruby is the second book in Shana Galen's Jewels of the Ton series. To find out more about Shana Galen and her books, click below:

Final note: Have I mentioned how much I love the Countess of Sinclair? I still don't know what her motivation was to care for Juliette, Fallon and Lily (and I hope Galen addresses this in the last book), but I love her.

Favorite line from this novel: The countess raised her brows. "I assure you, my dear, if the idea is mine, it is wise..." - loc 4523



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