Wild, Wild Rake by Janna MacGregor
This story features that rarest of Regency heroes; the virgin rake. Yes, that’s right, the HERO is the virgin… with the reputation of a rake. He’s mainly got this reputation because he’s charming and good-looking, which to be honest seems a bit unfair, especially since he’s also a vicar. Frankly, Devan just seems to be a bundle of contradictions. He’s trusted by his bishop to sort out problem parishes, and when his older brother the earl asks a favour of him, he’s happy to oblige… but he is, frankly, absolutely terrible to the heroine. We first meet him right after he’s given her a really cruel and horrible nickname, for no reason I can discern, despite knowing she was at the time married to an appalling husband. And then when he’s sent by his brother (the executor of her late husband’s estate and guardian of her son) to make sure she’s not squandering estate monies - on zero evidence that she is, just his brother’s concern that she’s helping other people and getting the money from Somewhere - he’s arrogant and rude.
I just couldn’t reconcile all these different things about Devan. Avalon, the heroine, obviously couldn’t, either, because she couldn’t bring herself to trust him even after she wound up married to him, taking the word of a proven liar over Devan’s on at least one occasion. I really liked Avalon and her little family and the community she’d built, but I just couldn’t buy into Devan as the right partner for her from the very beginning of the story. His thoughtless arrogance and cruelty to a woman he didn’t even know, one who was suffering in an untenable situation, were an instant turn-off and I couldn’t bring bring myself to root for them as a couple. There was a really bizarre plot involving a villain which suddenly popped up right at the very end of the book which felt like something the author hastily shoehorned in to add a bit of danger and honestly just should have been left out.
This wasn’t terrible, but I was disappointed. I’ve read other books by this author and thoroughly enjoyed them, but I really couldn’t get into this one. Three stars.
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this title via NetGalley.