Genre: Fantasy/Historical Romance
Francine Larabee has life figured out. Career, husband, kids. In that order. But fate had other plans.
Welcome to the world of The Rake and the Recluse. 21st century businesswoman Francine, through a fate-changing car accident, is thrust into 19th century England in the body of her ancestor Madeline Larabee. She wakes up on the estate of the delicious and stoic Gideon, the Duke of Roxleigh (AKA the Recluse), who’s just as confused by her improper attitude as Francine is by his obsession with propriety.
This book…oh this book. There’s a lot to love about it. Francine is a firebrand in a time when women are no more than property. She immediately grabs Gideon’s attention and holds on through a gripping story that will keep you turning pages from beginning to end.
Also, those pages? Some are illustrated. With photos. Beautiful photos. Jenn shot and designed all of her cover art. I love her deeply for it.
Apart from Gideon and Francine, Jenn gives us a great supporting cast through Gideon’s servants and extended family, including his delicious brother Perry, Viscount of Trumbull. We’ll get to Perry momentarily.
What I loved about Gideon and Francine’s relationship is watching Gideon’s self-restraint slowly, almost painstakingly, unravel. There are deliciously seductive moments, intense moments, beautiful moments between these two people who seem so wrong for each other and yet fit just right.
There were a few parts where I felt like Francine was accepting her life a little too easily, where I wanted to see her fiery personality come out. She tries to fit in, really, she does, but she doesn’t succeed very well or very often to the dismay of Gideon’s servants and the embarrassment of the ton. But it’s impossible to deny the chemistry between Gideon and Francine, the way moments between them smolder. They’re incredible to read and some parts will leave you breathless.
Now to Perry, the Rake.
Jenn’s book is written in six parts. Parts 1-4 are primarily about Francine and Gideon. Parts 5 and 6? Aaaaall Perry.
Perry has a bit of a reputation among the ton. He is the George Clooney of 19th century London, never gonna settle down because there’s no point. As long as Gideon is okay and able to serve his duties to the Crown, Perry’s free to do whatever he wants.
Until he meets Lilly, a servant in Gideon’s household.
Lilly offers an entirely different set of challenges than Francine. She’s been through a horribly traumatic experience that has left her fearful of a man’s touch. After her recovery, she hides away in Perry’s carriage as he’s leaving Gideon’s estate for his townhouse in London. She asks him to help her by…well…ya know. And Perry has no idea what to do. He agrees, reluctantly, at first, thinking it’ll just be casual, but as he and Lilly get to know each other, he realizes he can’t be without her.
Perry’s amazing. Normally I go for the dark and broody like Gideon, but something about Perry gripped me from his first entrance into the story. He’s hilarious, he’s sexy, and he’s wild. His relationship with Lilly adds more depth to his character than I ever expected, and by the end of TRATR, I was in love with him. I want my own Perry.
Jenn’s writing is solid throughout. She has a tendency to head-hop and gives us different perspectives from all sides of the story. However, there are frequent instances when I had no idea what was going on because there are no breaks. These changes are jolting, and a few times I got really confused. Also, there are A LOT of names, and titles and things to remember. I mention that solely because I’m lazy.
I would definitely recommend TRATR to fans of regency romances and to people who are new to that era of romance in general. Through Francine’s confusion and Perry’s unorthodox relationship with Lilly, the reader learns a lot about the courtship rules and the all-important propriety.