50 Ways to Ruin a Rake (Rakes and Rogues #1) by Jade Lee

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Mellie has a plan…

Mellie Smithson is trapped in the country with no suitors and no prospects on the horizon except, perhaps, the exasperating—although admittedly handsome—guest of her father. She’s looking for any excuse to go to London to meet more eligible men.

Trevor has a problem…

Trevor Anaedsley’s grandfather has cut off his funds until such time as he gets engaged. Trevor escapes to the country—ostensibly to visit his old tutor, Mr. Smithson, but actually to duck his creditors—where he meets Smithson’s lovely daughter, Mellie. The obvious solution is suddenly before him—but the lady has ideas of her own, and Trevor’s going to have to measure up…

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Publisher and Release Date: Sourcebooks Casablanca, May 2015

RHR Classifications:
Time and Setting: Regency England
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 3.5 stars

Review by Maria Almaguer

This is a charming love story, even though it is a little too fanciful for my taste. This is the first book I’ve read by Jade Lee, and she has a sparkling style and writes with an infectious liveliness that leaps off the page. It’s a very happy book. The title, however, is misleading – Trevor is not a rake and the only mention of his reputation comes via the gossip pages. And some of the characters (and their antics) are a bit over the top. Still, it’s a well written and fun story with a likeable hero and heroine.

Melinda Smithson, the daughter of a successful scientist (and a chemist herself) and Trevor, a future duke and former pupil of Mellie’s father, agree to a fake betrothal. Trevor’s grandfather will cut him off financially if he does not marry and Mellie is sick and tired of fending off her oafish cousin Ronnie’s constant and unwanted proposals.

Of course, as this is a faux engagement, the plan is for Mellie to eventually end the betrothal. In turn, Trevor will introduce her to eligible bachelors and help find her a husband, something she has been unable to do given that she is stuck in the country with her father.

But when Mellie and Trevor arrive in London for the Season, their feelings toward each other change rather quickly and drastically when they share some heated kisses and touches, tossing aside all of their logical, well-laid plans.

As Trevor gets to know Mellie, he discovers a beautiful, smart, and sensual woman and the thought of her marrying anyone else begins to bother him. The kisses they share are incendiary and often get out of hand. As a scientist, Mellie is curious and enjoys Trevor’s attentions, and she wants Trevor to teach her how to pleasure herself as he pleases her. The love scenes are passionate and soon neither is so sure they want to call things off.

Mellie is a confident and intelligent woman, qualities that Trevor comes to admire about her. When she’s faced with his pushy cousin, the beautiful and willful Eleanor who will be Mellie’s chaperone for the London Season, she holds her own and even comes up with a crazy plan of her own.

This is where the book gets a little silly but it’s amusing and engaging, and Ms Lee manages to make it work. Cricket Princess? Bug-Eyed Prince? Fisticuffs? Duels with quarterstaffs? A poetry-spewing romantic?

There isn’t enough from Trevor’s point of view, so I didn’t feel like I got to know him as well as Mellie. He’s kind but there isn’t anything very remarkable about him, except perhaps his willingness to fight for Mellie when he’s in danger of losing her.

The introduction of Carl Reusch, a scientist gentleman who has designs on Mellie’s secret skin cream formula, toward the end of the novel seems a little abrupt and turns the story into a comedy of errors; it just seems downright ridiculous and a little too convenient.

A lighthearted and fluffy romp, this is the first in Ms Lee’s Rakes and Rogues series.

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