The Taming of the Rake

The Taming of the Rake, by Kasey Michaels, is the first book in her new trilogy about the Blackthorn brothers.

The most important thing to remember about the Blackthorn brothers is that they are bastards. That’s not a value judgment, it’s a statement of fact. Their parents were not married, at least not to each other. Their father, the Marquis of Blackthorn, loved their mother, but married their aunt to protect her from being sent “away” because she was a bit, well, simple. Not to mention slightly fey. And their mother wanted to be an actress, not exactly a respectable pursuit for a Marchioness. So everyone came out ahead. Except for the Blackthorn boys. All three of them.

Beau, legally named but never called Oliver, is the oldest. And he is forcibly reminded of his bastardy by Thomas Mills-Beckman when Beau makes a quite respectable offer of marriage for Thomas’ sister Madelyn. Thomas has the servants horsewhip him for his effrontery, witnessed by the entire household, including Madelyn’s much younger sister Chelsea.

This is not the story of Beau’s and Madelyn’s thwarted love. Madelyn is not worth two minutes of Beau’s time. Beau takes his whipping like a man, picks up the shreds of his dignity and joins the Army. This is, after all a Regency, or close to it. Beau makes a name for himself at Waterloo. By the time he returns, Madelyn’s little sister has grown up.

The story is Beau’s and Chelsea’s story. Chelsea needs to escape from her brother Thomas’ desire to reform both himself and her by giving her in marriage to a scheming, fraudulent reverend with a perpetually wet mouth and wandering hands who only wants Chelsea for her access to her brother’s money. She throws herself on Beau’s probably non-existent mercy because she is sure he is the one man who will jump at the chance on using her to get revenge on her brother. And she is right. But instead of revenge, what Beau and Chelsea get is each other.

Escape Rating A: How Beau and Chelsea discover that what they really want is a future together is the heart of the story. These are two intelligent characters who find out that they have much more in common than a simple desire for revenge. On their way to Gretna Green for a hasty elopement, chased every step of the way, they still manage to have fun. And so does the reader.

This is just the first story. Beau has two brothers, each of whom should get his own book. I’m looking forward to them. The second brother Jack, seems to spy for the government at least some of the time, and he’s very secretive about it.  The youngest brother, Puck, wastes time as a “fribble”, in his own words. I also want to see if I’ve guessed right. I think their parents may really be married after all, but if it’s true, that will be part of the big finale at the very, very end. We’ll see.

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