NOMINATED FOR THE BTS RED CARPET BOOK REVIEW AWARDS (What a Rake Wants) APRIL 2016
King George sends his private investigator, an Irishman, Kieran Flynn, Lord Montsimon, on a mission, the reason for which is unclear. Is it a plot against the Crown? Or something entirely unrelated? Flynn’s inquiries lead him to the widow, Lady Althea Brookwood. Known amongst the ton as a rake, Flynn is rarely turned down by a lady, and when Althea refuses not just him but many other men, he becomes intrigued.
After her neighbor, Sir Harold Crowthorne informs Althea that he means to take her country property, Owltree Cottage, by fair means or foul, she must search for help. The first man she turns to is promptly murdered and the second lies to her. That leaves Flynn, Lord Montsimon, a man she has been studiously avoiding. But Montsimon is decidedly unhelpful, and more than a little mysterious. Her only option is to seduce him. Althea has little confidence that she will succeed, especially as before her husband was killed in a duel, he often told her she was quite hopeless at intimacy.
When a spy is murdered, Flynn wonders just what Althea knows and what her involvement might be with the man the king wants Flynn to investigate.
“Lord Ingleby has recently been widowed. He’s shown a considerable interest in you, and he’s plump in the pocket. Won’t be after my money.”
“I shouldn’t think anyone would be so foolish, Aunt Catherine. You are in excellent health and will be with us for many years to come.”
“Never mind sweet-talking me.” Aunt Catherine continued undaunted. “A woman does better in this world with a husband. Why not Ingleby?”
He was another man with more than a touch of violence about him. It was in his eyes and the tight way he held himself. Althea recognized the signs and suppressed a shiver. “I don’t find him attractive.”
“Attractive? That’s of little importance. We are talking about a husband, not a lover.”
Her aunt’s husband had died some years ago. A generous, quiet man, a good deal older than Catherine. She studied her aunt, whom she was said to favor. Catherine was still arresting in a Gros de Naples gown of deep violet, the color of her eyes, which had not dimmed. Might she have taken a lover at some point? Althea dismissed the idea immediately. There had never been a whiff of scandal attached to her.
“You can’t say that Irishman, Montsimon, isn’t attractive,” Aunt Catherine said, nodding to where he moved through the crowd, a head taller than most around him.
Althea turned to look. “Yes, he is, and a rake.” Lord Montsimon was part of the Regent’s fast set.
“Some woman will tame him. Rakes make the best husbands once they settle down.”
“If they settle down,” Althea said with laugh. “Wasn’t it Samuel Richardson who disputed the idea of a reformed rake making the best husband? According to him, it was a false and inconsiderate notion.”
“Pooh,” Aunt Catherine said rudely. “You have simply no idea how to enjoy life, child.”
Althea did not add that Montsimon had attempted to woo her into his bed. Since she had been widowed, many men pursued her. Widows were seen as fair game. Men assumed she was dying of frustration! She supposed she was an oddity. Younger widows often remarried after a year of mourning. Others found suitable arrangements outside marriage. Just thinking back on it shattered her. After her marriage ended as brutally as it began, she enjoyed her freedom and wished for neither husband nor lover.
Aunt Catherine motioned with her fan. “Have you noticed the way Montsimon looks at you? If you play your cards right, you’ll be the one to tame him, my dear. Well worth the effort, I’ll wager.”
“How do you suggest I do that?” she asked, surprised at her curiosity.
“You take him into your bed. Eventually. But first, you play him like a salmon on a hook. You never promise what you won’t deliver, mind. That would not be sporting.” Her aunt’s cheeks flushed, and she vigorously applied her fan. “At first let him get to know you. Let him begin to want more from you than merely someone to warm his bed. When he can’t live without you, then…”
Althea gasped. Perhaps she’d misjudged her relative. “Aunt…”
Her aunt laughed. “You’re surprised?”
“I knew you to be wise, but I never suspected you capable of such…” Failing to find a polite word, Althea fell silent.
“Shrewd is the word you’re looking for my dear.” Snapping her fan shut, her aunt smiled like a cat caught eating the custard. No doubt pleased to have stunned her. “You are of my blood, and just as smart yourself. You just need practice.” She gazed over Althea’s shoulder and opened her fan to cover her mouth. “Here he comes to ask you to dance. I would advise you not to shun him.”
To refuse Montsimon was bad ton when she’d been seen to be dancing earlier. Could she keep a man such as him at bay? He had all the charm of the Irish in his soft burr and the looks to go with it, a kind of loose-limbed grace and elegance. Althea refused to turn and watch him approach. Only when a pair of darkly clad legs of supreme length and shape stood beside her did she look up. His unusual, smoky grey eyes held a spark of humor. She admitted to not being entirely resistant to his élan, which she suspected came as easily to him as breathing. Humor was attractive in a man. It was wise to avoid him.
“Maggi Andersen does it again with her newest book. Maggi creates such a world that makes you want to leap in with both feet and this newest one is no different. I was pulled in from the beginning and wasn’t able to put it down until I finished it. I laughed, cried, and worried with the main characters and I still wanted more of them when it is was done.
The descriptions of the countryside, London and Ireland along with the intrigue of spies and the intrigue of King George, Maggi understands how to please her readers and pull them into the story. She never disappoints when it comes to her books. She makes it easy to love the characters and to truly hope for their future.
The main characters of Lady Althea Brookwood and Lord Montsimon are lovable, stubborn, and intriguing. They have a distinct banter that a reader will find both exhilarating and hilarious as you can actually feel them falling in love with each other.
This is such a good read and it really takes you on an adventure with the characters. You will not be disappointed if you enjoy a good book that will keep you reading until you finish it.” – NORTHEAST BOOK REVIEW
“It had wit, charm and a likeability factor right from the beginning!” BTS BOOK REVIEWS
Flynn was born and raised at Greystones Manor, the family home in County Wicklow, Ireland. After his mother ran off with her lover, he was left in the care of his father, a drunkard with a violent temper. He understood why she had left his father but not why his mother had left him behind. He was condemned to a miserable childhood without parental love, only relieved when he was sent away to be educated in Dublin. As soon as he was old enough, Flynn turned his back on his father and Ireland and left for England. He soon gained a reputation as a rake but is also employed as a highly valued spy for the King George IV.
Flynn is surprised when the beautiful, widowed Lady Brookwood refuses his advances. Women usually fall at his feet, so he is intrigued by her. When he discovers that the lady is in danger, it stirs protective instincts he has never felt for any woman before and emotions he has always kept under control.
Althea was married at seventeen, a marriage arranged by her father. She wanted to make the marriage work, only to be met with nothing but callous treatment from her husband. She takes no pleasure in his lovemaking and, when he accuses her of being cold and unresponsive in bed, she comes to believe that the fault lies with her. After her husband is killed in a duel, she enjoys her freedom and has no wish to remarry or take a lover. She has no intention of being subject to another man’s will ever again.
So Althea is determined to resist Lord Montsimon, however handsome and charming he may be. However, when he is adamant that she is in danger and insists on protecting her, she begins to see that he is much more than his rakish exterior suggests
Every time Flynn spoke, I could hear that soft Irish burr in my head. Add to that his easy charm, his sense of humour and his willingness to take in a stray, “not at all handsome” dog called Spot and how could I not adore him? When he and Althea are forced to share a bedroom (all very innocent), he has rather a unique way of dampening his ardour…
…he began to recite the lines of Coleridge’s The Ancient Mariner under his breath.
I liked Althea as well. I understood her desire to be independent and admired her determination to solve her own problems. However, once she is aware that the danger is real, Althea is sensible enough to appreciate having Flynn around.
A vision of Montsimon replaced her anguished thoughts, his compelling grey eyes, his elegant features, and the confident set of his shoulders. She was suddenly terribly pleased to have him as her friend.
I liked how the romantic relationship between Flynn and Althea grew slowly, from their initial, verbal skirmishes…
“Are you deaf? Put me down!” She struggled to free herself.
“Can’t I’m afraid. At your present snail’s pace, my lady, we would be lucky to reach the carriage by breakfast.
….to the genuine friendship that developed between them and falling in love seemed a natural progression as they come to like and trust each other.
There are some amusing moments when Althea and Flynn have to pose as husband and wife and Flynn’s rakish tendencies come to fore.
“You can’t go about the house like that! Don’t you have a nightshirt?”
He tucked his arms beneath his head. “Don’t use ’em.”
You might have made an exception,” she said crossly while inspecting his wide chest.
“Now it’s your turn,” he invited with a lazy, seductive grin.
She put her hands on her hips. “You are not going to watch me.”
“I rather thought I would. There’s a dearth of entertainment in the country. Even the newspapers are old.”
I cheered for Althea when she decides to consummate their relationship and finally dispels all her fears of intimacy.
The letter from Flynn’s mother was so poignant but it helped him lay the ghosts of his past to rest and it was such a lovely touch that his mother should provide the solution to the remaining obstacle in his path to marrying Althea.
I did enjoy seeing previous heroes Guy, Baron Fortescue ( A Baron in Her Bed) and John Haldane, Earl of Strathairn ( Taming a Gentleman Spy), Flynn’s former associates and friends, who provide extra muscle when it comes to tackling the villains.
I like how real historical figures and events are woven into the story giving an insight into the personal and political machinations surrounding King George IV’s reign.
My verdict: A delightfully entertaining story.
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