Harlequin Historical, $6.50, ISBN 978-0-373-29845-7
Historical Romance, 2015
Archer Crawford travels abroad with his buddies to Europe for adventures and excitement, but each of them end up starring in their own love stories. Well, Rake Most Likely to Thrill tells the story of Archer who wants fast fun in Siena, Italy, only to end up being shackled for life. Actually, he’s hoping to enjoy the famous horse races in Siena while getting to know the family on his late mother’s side, while creating some space between him and his father. He thinks he scores the big one when a hot lady shows up during a party to pretty much invite him to take an up close and personal look at her bloomers.
Elisabeta di Nofiri wants a single reckless moment as a temporary diversion to help her forget, for a while, her upcoming wedding to an ugly cruel guy. We all know that romance heroines can accept and even adore cruel bastards, it’s the ugly part that is the deal breaker. So Elisabeta goes to play the yo-yo with a hot guy, who turns out to be Archer. Who also happens to be the nephew of a man who is not on good terms with Elisabeta’s future husband. As Archer thinks to himself, he has sort of stumbled into a Romeo and Juliet story. Those two can’t stop taking off their clothes in one another’s company, naturally, so what happens when the crap hits the fan?
For a long time, this story is readable, although a big part of this story sees two people basically boinking and doing very little else of interest. It could have easily been a three-oogie read, but the characters’ thoughts and behaviors soon begin to lose me. Now, I don’t get too hung up over the fact that she’s basically cheating on a cruel man – who wouldn’t, when there’s a hot guy nearby willing to play along? – but there will be repercussions when she is found out. And yet, Elisabeta doesn’t seem to let that bother her much. She soon becomes more concerned over the need to be sure that Archer wants her willingly, on his own free will and not because of a sense of obligation. Even after she gets brutalized by her husband-to-be when he finds out, she is all about how she must turn him down because she isn’t certain that he’s just trying to be nice to her. Seriously, what kind of demented nonsense is this? She also starts in motion a convoluted series of nonsense involves horses and fake identities so that… I don’t know, the whole thing is just so tortuous.
Archer, on his part, is like, well, she turned down his offer, hmm, he maybe shouldn’t act like he wants her because people may think of her as a whore (and thus, only reinforcing her belief that he really doesn’t want her for her), so he’d just go away for a while now and think about whether he really loves her… oh dear, who would’ve thought she’d be victimized when the hubby-to-be finds out?
These two wretches are an epic fail when it comes to doing that cheating thing properly, I tell you.
At any rate, by the time I close Rake Most Likely to Thrill, I can only wonder what kind of damage these two must have sustained in their past to display such unnecessarily convoluted thought processes. It’s also a shame that Elisabeta doesn’t get to be a martyr like she wants to be, because sometimes heroines like this silly thing really ask for it. These two are such weirdos.