Sourcebooks Casablanca, $7.99, ISBN 978-1-4022-8782-4
Historical Romance, 2016
How to Rescue a Rake parallels Jane Austen’s Persuasion, although I don’t remember the characters in that story to be as childish as the ones in this one.
About three years ago, Nathaniel Sherringham, or Sherry, was known as a heartbreaker and reprobate. He believed himself to be in love with Diana Makepiece, but she acted like she was too good for him. (And she is, if you ask me.) Still, he was persistent, and he expected her to run away with him… but she never showed up. Maybe she decided to go ahead and marry the man she was supposed to marry after all. So off he went, and today, he is a captain who comes back to celebrate his newfound wealth and to look for a wife. It would seem obvious to court Diana since she’s available – he’s hot and he’s loaded, and he’s charmed her before, after all – but if he makes it easy for himself, this story would only be about 100 pages long.
Instead, Sherry takes what seems like forever to realize that Diana is still unmarried – the darling has decided not to settle for less in a marriage, after all – and he spends a long time telling me that he’s now reformed and mellow, only to then open his mouth around Diana and throw all kinds of cringe-inducing childish insults at her. Oh, the author knows, and Sherry knows that he’s being childish. Maybe the author is trying to show me how hard it can be to unlearn silly behavior, and I can get behind that, but the end result is still the same: the two characters persist in acting like kids for so long that I find myself feeling tired just following them around.
It’s a shame – Diana is actually a pretty well-drawn character. “Give me love or give me death… although I sure love getting porked by the hero nonetheless!” is a standard, tired war cry uttered by way too many romance heroines, but here, Diana’s motivations and the emotions behind those motivations all feel real and relatable to me. I like her. I just don’t like her when she interacts with Sherry and quickly devolves into a ten-year old girl. She insists on reading everything he says and does as a slight, and he keeps saying silly things and doing stupid things like trying to make her jealous instead of talking to her, and their courtship screams “kindergarten hair-pulling spat” all over.
By the time I reach the last page, my mood has actually departed some hundred or so pages back. Like I said, a shame. The heroine is pretty good, the tone and the atmosphere are both fine, but it’s just that those two just keep behaving silly, and the author fails to make this silliness amusing to me.