Harlequin Historical, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-29820-4
Historical Romance, 2015
Bryn Rutherford follows her father to Bridgetown out in the Antigua when the man heads over to this part of the world with the English government’s authority to open a bank and introduce the pound to the former slaveowners and the now emancipated natives of the place. One evening, a man known simply as Kitt – no, not that talking car – jumps in front of her after climbing up the trellis to her bedroom and, to silence her, puts his mouth onto hers. Because he’s hot, she flirts with him instead of screaming for help because hot men can never be rapists or murderers or serial killers, don’t you know. Imagine her surprise when he turns out to be Christopher Sherard, the local captain and moneyed dude who wants a piece of the pie her father has brought along with him.
Breaking the Rake’s Rules thrills me to no end in its first twenty or so pages, as, despite my reservations about the heroine lack of common sense, I find myself enjoying the flirtation between Bryn and Kitt. The author has a way with sexual tension and chemistry, and she can blend humor and innuendo into one heady cocktail of sorts. Unfortunately, it is not long before I begin to become irritated with these two characters, especially Bryn who really gets on my nerves every few pages.
Bryn is supposed to be clever, she thinks she is very clever, but in this story, she keeps getting outwitted by everyone and his donkey. Despite this, she still acts like she knows everything – which would be fine if she didn’t do some really stupid things here. Where do I begin… oh, how about running off with Kitt for an adventure just because she feels neglected by her father (whom she expects to do everything she tells him to)? And giving away the milk to him for free despite her belief that he has no intentions of making an honest woman out of her? Oops, pregnant? Bryn doesn’t think or care about the consequences of her actions on her reputation and well-being, so it is actually annoying to see her get rewarded for her actions with true love and happily ever after. She is childish, acts childish from start to finish, and she’s only lucky that she is not abandoned all alone in some Caribbean port, pregnant and penniless. She sets herself up for a tragic end with her impulsive actions and childish spoiled little girl antics – it is only because this is a romance novel that she is spared from having to audition for the role of Fantine.
More annoyingly, she gives Kitt so many chances to keep fiddling with her buttons beneath her petticoats, and gives other characters – especially women – far less chances to earn her approval. A woman telling her that Kitt is a playboy? Okay, that woman is right, but oh, Bryn just hates gossips and she would have thought she would never have to deal with catty bitches again! Another guy is a lepidopterist – she immediately launches into an interior monologue that the man is shallow and young, never considering how cruel it is to pin butterflies and turn them into specimens, and that is the most cruel thing ever because that man never considers how his action “impacts” the butterfly. And yet, everything Kitt does is okay with her, though, even if he kills people and such, because he’s hot and she wants it bad.
Bryn, therefore, has the charming privilege of being a catty and judgmental bitch who considers everyone else that doesn’t make her flood her basement to be catty and judgmental. How old is she again, fifteen?
Kitt on the other hand is at least not a catty and judgmental twit who is often hoisted on her petard due to a lack in the brainpower department. But he’s willing to fiddle with women without wanting to pay the price – although to be fair, she practically throws herself at him – and the heroine enables his behavior by continuously making allowances for him and letting him get away with his nonsense.
As a result, I get two people who work very hard to be train wrecks in a dysfunctional romance, only to be given a happy ending that, I feel, is never really earned by any of them.
Breaking the Rake’s Rules sees the characters breaking plenty of rules alright, to the point that it pretty much breaks itself in the process.