Mills & Boon, £4.99, ISBN 978-0-263-92613-2
Historical Romance, 2017
Normally, a pregnant courtesan will rank up there with the narcoleptic pilot and claustrophobic F1 racer in the list of words placed together in a way that will make me go, “Good lord, I hope I don’t have to pay these people!” However, in romance novels, we tend to portray a complete breakdown of contraception as a shining evidence of female virtue – only prostitutes will know how to prevent pregnancy properly, after all – so I suppose A Pregnant Courtesan for the Rake is supposed to conjure up a “Yay! Go, you knocked-up whore!” from me. In a good way, of course, because Cecilia Lockhart is a fake courtesan.
She is so fake, in fact, that she is the fakest faker of the whole of faking Fakeville. Her “protector and pimp” is actually gay, and she acts like a hot courtesan while somehow contriving to keep those disgusting penises away from her virtuous meatloaf in a way that makes me roll up my eyes and wonder whether these people really know what is supposed to go into which place. Because this is a romance novel centered around the fact that the heroine isn’t a waterway for motorboats is strong evidence that she is clearly deserving of the love of a procurer, though, such contrivance is meant to be seen as a good thing.
See, that’s my problem with this book and the rest of the books that came before it in the multi-author The Society of Wicked Gentlemen series – it revolves around three men and their
dead BFF (guess who’s back from the dead and will be getting his book next) who run what is basically an orgy den for “virile men” and “bored ladies” (note the adjectives used – the men who frequent this place gets pegged with one that accentuates their desirability, while the women who cavort with them are depicted as somehow lacking in contentment) and my goodness, the entire series may as well as renamed Double Standards Everywhere I See.
Back to this story, Oliver Gregory, one of the three industrious men that manage an outlet that allows men to sow their wild oats on harlots before they settle down with virtuous women, is in Paris, looking for and auditioning harlots and tramps to be included on the menu of his outlet, when he’s not looking for various types of debauchery that he can bring home and install at that outlet. What a remarkable gentleman of upstanding virtue. He sees our heroine giving money to poor kids, spends time with her, and gets her all so horny and randy that she just has to have him. And then she leaves, because her father and mother didn’t love her enough not to disown her when she married some bloke not of their choosing, that marriage didn’t turn out well, and thus, she will never put herself under the thrall of any man blah blah blah.
Then oops, pregnant. She finds Oliver because she’s this close to being penniless and homeless, and Oliver is understandably upset that promiscuous women of ill repute are trying to get him to be accountable for where he squirts the Gregory tadpoles into.
He’d always been so careful, only bedding women who knew the rules of their sensual game, who did not want a baby any more than he did.
In other words, all a guy has to do for birth control is to screw non-virginal harlots. The woman is the one who has to do all the actual work in ensuring that no baby comes out from the man’s fun. Douchebag!
Not that I’m supposed to say that, because this story isn’t about getting that guy up to shape to be a hubby material. No, it’s all about the heroine proving that she has purifying beams of virtue shining from her “I AM NOT A PROSTITUTE AND I DESERVE TO BE LOVED EVEN AS I WHINGE NON-STOP THAT I DON’T WANT LOVE!” oven of love, and as a result, our hero will ream her father and mother for thinking of her as a slag.
“Your daughter works as a hostess, nothing else!”
In other words, the heroine’s virtue is measured solely by the traffic that goes in and out between her legs. Lovely. And hilariously enough, we have Oliver accusing her parents of being hypocrites when he is judging people on their morals while running an orgy house.
I can’t take this. A Pregnant Courtesan for the Rake seems like it is aimed at a segment of readers who are far more concerned about the heroine living up to some ridiculously superficial and misogynistic standard of virtue while giving the hero a free pass at everything, maybe because Our Lord Jesus Christ created virtuous women to crave the penises of immoral men. In the end, Cecilia proves to everyone that she is worthy enough to be loved, and she is so grateful that all she does in the last few chapters is to cry in relief. So… good for her?
The author is way too good to be writing such nonsense.