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on 6 July 2013
I've read other books by this author before and enjoyed them, but I really loved "The Rake".

I have to say though that Reggie is a bit of an unlikely hero. An alcoholic gambling womaniser who's killed men in duels, he hated his uncle from whom he was set to inherit a title until a previously unknown heir arrived (story told in a previous book). Said heir gives him an estate, where he finds his estate manager is female. She has her secrets too, and for a while it looks as if there are too many problems in their lives to overcome for them to get together.

But Reggie is a strong man, with redeeming qualities, and gradually his past and his family's are revealed, and he struggles to overcome his failings. He also has a sense of humour, and a surprising sense of right and wrong, which make him genuine hero material.

Alys has a past which has left her feeling unloveable as a woman, but she is a fitting match for Reggie, who needs somebody strong, just as she needs a man she cannot dominate.

The sex scenes are not greatly detailed, but the passion between the protagonists is unmistakeable. The description of Reggie's struggles with his drinking are quite harrowing, and reveal more about his background, which makes him more sympathetic. All in all a great read.
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VINE VOICEon 27 March 2013
This is only the second MJP book I've ever read but I would rate it in my top ten list of historical/regency romances. It's an extremely well written, intense book about a complicated hero and a strong heroine.

Reggie Davenport is the Rake of the title with a dreadful reputation. He's a damaged individual who has so far spent his life womanising, gambling and above all, drinking to excess yet he is inevitably charming, has a wicked sense of humour and you find that he has his own code of honour. He is given a chance to turn his life around when his cousin gives him a prosperous estate in Dorsetshire and there he encounters the steward responsible for running his property so successfully.

The steward in question, AE Weston, turns out to be Alys Weston who has her own demons to escape from. The story of their developing relationship is really well drawn, the author lets you see into the heads of both of the main protagonists. The plot lines are believable and there are two charming secondary romances. A big part of the story concerns Reggie's gradual realisation of his dependence on alcohol and his fight to become sober but this is all really sympathetically done and well woven into the story line. Alys's support is vital and gives their relationship a great added dimension.

I absolutely loved both the main characters, found the whole story charming, funny on occasion and also very moving in parts. Great to have this previously out of print book now in ebook version.
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on 26 March 2013
The Rake is the a wonderful story which conpletes this masterful trilogy. The hero Reggie makes a brief appearance in both The Bargain and The Diabolical Baron. He does not give a good impression being a cynical hard living, hard drinking gambler. The Rake is his story. An earlier reviewer has written a detailed and accurate synopsis. This is a powerful story of an alcoholic coming to terms with his demons centred on a destroyed childhood and discovering a future when his estate is restored to him. Redemption comes through his love of his land and the friendship he finds with his female steward who has her own demons to fight. The author writes with great skill and understanding. I felt the way their friendship develops into love was drawn with wit and humour and demonstrates, beautifully, that initial sexual attraction can never become lasting love without friendship. There are historical inaccuracies, when aren't there? It is possible for a title to devolve through the distaff branch but it is extremely rare but this is fiction after all. It helped move the plot along. I enjoyed the detail regarding the running of a prosperous estate at a difficult time in English history when there was great hardship after the Napoleonic Wars. I loved every book in this trilogy but this was my favourite. They can be read as 'stand alones', however I would recomend that they are read in order. Each novel is different, they are all excellent.
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on 28 December 2014
A good story with some very moving moments. The hero and heroine are both very strong characters, who have to overcome life's difficulties in unconventional ways. My only problem with it really stem from being a resident of England, and wincing at the (American) author's errors. (For example, frequent references to Dorsetshire. When it should be just Dorset) They wouldn't spoil most people's enjoyment of the story though, I don't suppose!
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on 22 September 2015
I purchased this book in 2012 and enjoyed it but didn't really consider it among my top favorites. Lately, I've been doing some re-reading and decided to give it a re-read since I kept remembering that it's one of my favorite reviewer's top regency romance novels of all time. I'm glad I gave it another chance.

I would highly recommend reading The Diabolical Baron before reading "The Rake." If you read "The Diabolical Baron" first, you will see a side of our hero, Reginald Davenport, that contributed to his rakehell reputation and dishonourable reputation.

But, it's time for the bad boy to work toward reformation and why not give him a good woman to help him through the process? In the previous book, Reggie was hit hard when, after years of waiting for his uncle to die so he could finally inherit the earldom, a grandson of his uncle shows up and Reggie is left out in the cold. In this book, the new earl calls Reginald to his office and tells Reggie he will no longer pay him an allowance, but he will give him the most prosperous of the unentailed properties for Reggie to do with it what he so desires.

Who would ever imagine that Reggie is a farmer at heart? But he does have a surprise waiting on him when he travels to what was his boyhood home. It seems his more than capable estate manager is a woman, Lady Alys. Not just a woman, but an Amazon of a woman. Reggie is over six feet tall and Alys is 5'11" - she's accustomed to towering over men - but not Reggie. She's not a conventionally pretty woman, but she has a commanding presence and Reginald is entranced by Alys, including her Amazonian figure and her mismatched eyes.

Lady Alys soon learns she is in over her head in some ways. As much as she wants to befriend her new employer - yes, he does need a friend - she doesn't know how to deal with Reggie's alcoholism. There were so many attributes of Reggie to be admired. He had a type of scoundrel's honor and was actually a kind of knight in white shining armor to a few people, only most of Society never learned about his good deeds toward various people and of course Reggie wasn't about to explain his actions to anyone.

As we traverse the story and Reggie's background is slowly revealed, one of the most touching scenes for me was when he visited his great uncle and his uncle gave him a major key to be released from his alcoholism involving calling out to a higher power. This was unexpected and yet very appropriate to the situation Reggie found himself in.

Lady Alys has deep insecurities of her own and a past she has run away from. Additionally, there are actions by Reggie that she misunderstands, mostly due to her own insecurities. So, we have two people thrown together, both of whom are in need of healing from wounds in their souls. Still, they have enough left to place the needs of others before their own needs. Only when Reggie makes the ultimate sacrifice, does he at last find peace.

There is a third novella in this series and it may be found in Christmas Revels. Within this book, there are several short stories including "Sunshine for Christmas" which features Lord Randolph Lennox, the man who contributed to Lady Alys' insecurities which haunted her for years.
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on 9 July 2013
I thoroughly enjoyed this book - though parts of it make less than comfortable reading. Despite his past, it's difficult not to like Reggie and the sections dealing with his struggle to quit the bottle are extremely well-written. This is only the second of this author's novels that I have read but I've already put her on my 'look-out for' list.
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on 26 October 2012
Very interesting main characters and enthralling story. Yes, perhaps a bit historically inaccurate / implausible towards the end but the book held me throughout and I really looked forward to when I could pick it up again. Was sad to finish it.
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on 4 October 2012
I read this book and had no idea, until the end, that it was actually a reissue of an older story, originally published in 1989. Now the world and writing styles/tastes have changed a fair bit in the intervening 20+ years and a lot of reissued books that I've read recently haven't made the transition well. This is not one of them - this book worked really well.

The premise is best summarised by its original title - "the Rake and the Reformer" - giving equal billing to both central cast members. The rake, Reginald Davenport, is a very interesting character whose initial shallow dissipation is gradually revealed to be only part of the truth about this man. Estate Manager Alys Weston is interesting in that she's doing a man's job, and that she's rather unusual to look at (very tall, mismatched eyes), but she is living a pretty normal life despite all these things providing stability for her three wards and doing an excellent job of running Strickland. When Reggie is gifted Strickland by his cousin, he leaves off his destructive raking for a short while to go and visit it - and this becomes a pivotal time for him as he can leave his old life behind and make a new one - or can he?

I generally find `reformed rake' stories unconvincing as I always have a sneaky suspicion that rakes don't really reform, let alone being worried that they are riddled with lots of diseases. However in this story Mary Jo Putney has provided us with a slow and gradual reforming which is actually believable, particularly with regard to the struggles Reggie feels and his occasional slips back into his old ways. Even Alys isn't quite what she seems.

There's a subplot about a threat to both of them but that isn't that significant a part of the book - the main bulk of the story is the rake reforming and the reformer coming to terms with her past and it is a very enjoyable story. There are some strong echoes of Georgette Heyer's "Frederica" to me in this story, and as I love that book there's no harm in that, but this is a more down-to-earth story with perhaps a few aspects that don't feel quite realistic but otherwise it's a great read.

Originally published for Curled Up With A Good Book © Helen Hancox 2012
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on 15 February 2015
A competently written novel with an interesting premise (see other reviews for a synopsis) and likeable characters. I was not expecting to find the hero struggling with alcoholism but thought the depiction of the struggle was well done. Overall, however, I found the story rather plodding.
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on 29 May 2013
It is a thoroughly enjoyable book. I loved the characters and the storyline. Will definitely enjoy reading it again and will definitely put it in my favourites.
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