Publication date: August 27, 2013
Series: The Lost Lords #5
One of my all-time favorite books is Mary Jo Putney's The Rake, which had a startling amount of brilliant characterization, to the extent of subtly overshadowing the prose, plot, and dialogue. This one is no different. Perhaps it is easier to simply say that Putney is one of the finest historical romance authors ever, able to instill such ingenuity and sentiments into her characters to make them immensely likable, but more importantly, utterly empathetic.
This book is blatantly explicitly divided in two parts, a fast-paced adventurous rescue, and a calmer, soother path engagement and marriage life. As with Putney's usual style, this book's plot is mostly background for the multilayered complexity of character development. Miss Sarah Clarke-Townsend pretends to be her twin sister, Mariah, the Duchess of Ashton (Loving A Lost Lord) in order to protect the pregnant Mariah from some kidnappers. Fortunately, Rob Carmichael, a friend of the Duke of Ashton and a Bow Street Runner, arrived and swiftly decided to take up this case for his friend, due to a deeply rooted sense of justice. As he catches up to the kidnappers in Ireland and rescues Sarah, the pair of them braves not only the trials of nature, but also their substantial attraction to each other.
The second half of the book has a much different tone than the first, with Rob and Sarah having arrived safely - albeit Rob with injuries - in England. Rob is pronounced to be the new Earl of Kellington, and Sarah, in an attempt to save his life, declared herself his fiancée. Following Rob's recovery, his new inheritance came to be only debts, compelling him to seek an heiress in order to provide for his tenants. In her goodness, Sarah aids him in that quest, only to agree to his marriage-of-convenience as Rob could find no better candidate than Sarah, despite her normal dowry. In the end, Sarah's resourcefulness resolves not only Rob's financial situation, but also a political threat, and more importantly, the lingering question within Rob's heart that sought love but never dared to ask for it.
This review cannot even begin to do justice to the enormity of my affections for Rob and Sarah. Rob, despite being a second son, despises the aristocracy that his father represented, and left his heritage to serve justice as a Bow Street Runner; his integrity and honor shaping him into a man of true character. He is at once understanding, knowledgeable, empathetic, and charming, owning more heroic qualities than any romance hero I've ever read. And yet, despite his obvious hero status, he is humble, perceptive of both his own faults and that of man, accepting them and sincerely devoting his soul to bettering the world, even if a little. In fact, Rob is almost too good to true; it is precisely Putney's magical pen that crafted this godlike hero with all the thoughts and qualities of man, making him a most true and conceivable hero.
As for Sarah, Rob's "golden, fluffy chick," she encompasses all the wonderful qualities a heroine could have. Finally reunited with her twin Mariah, her affection and love for her sister only increased, accepting yet never condemning her status as the less brilliant Clarke-Townsend sister. Content yet not entirely complacent with her calm life, she sought adventure with a breathless wonder until it took the shape of kidnappers. But far from becoming hysterical, she used her wit and practicality to increase her likelihood of being rescued, and aided Rob on their escape. By herself, Sarah is a delightful and charming girl, but with Rob, she gave him her undying support, affection, and her soul, for his companionship and friendship. These two felt a strong affinity yet understood the demands of society and their life. The level of Rob and Sarah's mutual trust and understanding achieved throughout their journey is on par with the level of love achieve by a lesser author, and Putney took it to an even higher degree by skillfully transforming their affection into a love to be worded.
It is clear as day that Rob and Sarah could have given their lives to protect the other even halfway in the story, but it only made sweeter that final, momentous epiphany of their love achieved near the end of this tantalizing tale.
In so many words I have described my love for the entirety of this book, so I can only hope that the wisest of readers will see this shining gem of a read and savor its fantastic characters and absorbing plot.
Rating: 5 tulips