Wicked Rake, Defiant Mistress By Ann Lethbridge
May 2010 Harlequin Historical 281 pages
BLURB ON BACK OF BOOK:
When a mysterious woman holds him at gunpoint, Garrick Le Clere, Marquess of Beauworth, knows he's finally met his match!
With her home lost to creditors, Lady Eleanor Hadley has been forced to take drastic steps. She's without hope—until the notorious rake offers a way out of her predicament….
Garrick soon discovers that his new mistress is a virgin, and a lady—with a dangerous secret life! But the pleasure she brings may be just what he needs to soothe the pain from his past.
I will state right up front, this is a cracking good read, I could not put it down, I read it all in almost one sitting. The action begins right out of the gate, when bored, young, idle and reckless rake Garrick Le Clare, is held up by a robber, a woman no less! Before she can steal his valuables, Garrick steals a passionate kiss. He is knocked out by her accomplice, ( a soldier friend of her late father's) and when Garrick comes to, he feels foolish. He wants to find this woman, who set him on fire, but made a fool of him as well. She even stole his boots!
The robber, is 19 year old Eleanor Hadley, forced by circumstances to take to the road to make ends meet. Of course, the source of her misery, lost home and reduced circumstances is the Marquess of Beaworth, Garrick himself! She takes on the name Ellie Brown, and she has to take a small cottage for her and her younger sister.
It is in this small village, that Garrick meets Ellie. He is immediately taken with her sweet nature, and Ellie, well, she never forgot that kiss out on the road when she held him up.
Determined to get back his signet ring, and perhaps some of his dignity, he follows the tracks of the robbers and lays a trap for the highwaymen. He soon comes across Ellie in her highwayman costume, and a fencing duel commences, I liked that! Garrick gets the upper hand, but the tables are soon turned, and Garrick is taken for ransom.
It is during this incarceration, Garrick finds out that lady Moonlight and Ellie are the same woman, both had enchanted him in their different ways. Of course, he is livid. Now found out, Ellie offers herself in place of the mortgage on her former home, Garrick accepts.
I loved the way the relationship slowly developed between Ellie and Garrick. Revenge and guilt soon turn into passion and desire, and by the end of the summer, love, though neither never admit to it.
And Garrick has his own past, and secrets, of which I will not reveal.
In situations like this, misunderstandings abound, and the mortgage is also tied up with her brother, who is away at war, and who was once supposedly given a right thrashing by Garrick at school, an incident he does not recall.
When Garrick finds out his summer mistress is in fact, a lady, he does the honorable thing, and proposes marriage. Ellie refuses him for different reasons, some of which made sense, and some that didn't.
Neither speak of love. Both are devastated when they part.
Fours years pass. At a society get together, Ellie spots Garrick from across the room, she had heard the rumors, the women. He had been in the army. And he is still bitter over her refusal of him.
The passion flares between them once again, and as the book comes to a close, the true villain is revealed, of which it was no real surprise.
This book was very readable, it flowed extremely well, the characters well drawn. I particularly liked Garrick, his passionate ways, his dark family secrets. Yes, he was tortured to a point.
And Ellie was a strong heroine, admirable, as she would do anything to protect her family, almost to the determent of her own happiness. A rousing adventure filled with passion.
RATING: 3 and 1/2 out of 4 stars for the Book
KOVER KUDOS: Love the burgundy colors, very lush, nothing is so romantic than having some handsome rake nibbling on the back of your neck. And I am loving the ruffled cuffs Harlequin has been showing in their cover shots lately.
RATING: 3 out of 4 stars for the cover
Visit Ann Lethbridge's website HERE