Collette Jardiniere had written a best selling novel called The Last Days of a Rake, which many in Victorian England, including the Queen, are calling racy and immoral. Colette wrote under a man’s name, as most people don’t think women are capable of reading a book, much less writing one! And what is in the book does not reflect Collette’s experiences but rather her imagination and her aunt’s memories of London several decades prior. When a Charles Jameson is named as the author and Collette’s publishers do nothing, Collette is furious and comes to London to get a retraction printed in the paper. She doesn’t expect to find a man on the train with which to share her first kiss.
Charles Jameson is returning from Kent after looking for the author of The Last Days of a Rake. He found the book was excellent and would like to be this author’s patron, if he could figure out who it is. After stopping to help a young, tall, skinny woman light her candle, as the train carriage grew dark, he’s surprised to find himself attracted to her. She’s nothing like the women he usually wants. This one likes to agree and read yet she also seems open to new experiences. Jameson doesn’t want to let her go but at the train station in London, she disappears after Jameson told her to wait and he would provide her a ride.
Shortly after in a friend of Collette’s home, Jameson and Collette meet again. Collette is livid that the man she shared her first kiss with is the horrid man who is claiming her book! After talking to her publisher, she knows she will get no help there in straightening out this matter. So, maybe if she approaches Jameson, he will do it himself.
Can she convince him that she actually did write this scandalous novel and not a man? Can they even stay on topic with each attracted to the other?
This is a wonderful book set in Victorian England.
I found that even within this story, I could find reflections of today’s society. No, we pretty much realize that females can and do think and are intelligent but there are other things. Collette is more adventurous in London than she is in her own hometown because she doesn’t really know anyone and she probably won’t see any of these people again. She wants to explore the town and her new awakening sexuality. After all, no one she knows will ever know! Sound familiar? And Collette brings to question the way men and women are seen when having multiple sexual partners outside of marriage and the way society looks at it. Men do get away with more than women even to the present.
Okay, enough of social commentary.
I really loved the characters. Collette can be so serious one minute and then have a snippet of a story forming the next. She is open to new experiences but also to new ideas. She’s also firm in her beliefs and wants, allowing for few compromises. Jameson is a rake. He’s also having his beliefs shaken and tries desperately to hang on to them even as he wants to hang on to Collette. Still, he’s endearing as he tries to do the right things by her from paying for her new dresses without her knowledge to offering to be her patron. He’s having to deal with new ideas and feelings while he’s not sure he wants to do either! The secondary characters are just as impressive and greatly add to the story.
The Victorian era was expressed well. The social issues and ideas were woven into the story letting you see what Collette was up against. Not only would men be shocked that a woman wrote this book but so would the women! After all, a woman’s purpose in life was to support her husband and raise children, which was strange as a woman ruled the country. Perceptions were important and a single woman was watched for a single impropriety.
There are some excellent sex scenes throughout the story which enhance it and push the story forward. They are done with taste and feeling. While the are somewhat graphic, they are not crude.
Excellent story on more than one level. I don’t know what else I could want from this well written Victorian romance. Interesting characters, fantastic situations and a happy ending makes a terrific book.
Now, as something really special Ms Simpson actually wrote The Last Days of a Rake to go along with this one. I can’t wait to read it!
Nothing sells like love & scandal...
Collette Jardiniere writes of passion and seduction but has experienced neither. Her pseudonymous novel, The Last Days of a Rake, has shocked Victorian society and become a runaway bestseller. Infamous roué Charles Jameson is "revealed" as the author, and Collette is outraged when the cad does little to curtail the gossip.
Intrigued by the book the tabloids claim is his thinly veiled autobiography, Jameson tries to find the real author. Returning to London after an unsuccessful hunt, he is pleasantly distracted by a plain country miss reading the wicked book.
Collette is dismayed when she learns the identity of the devastatingly handsome man who kissed her senseless. And Jameson cannot believe that she wrote The Last Days of a Rake. As Collette tries to convince him of the truth, their mutual attraction reaches a fever pitch, and soon they find themselves in a real-life scandal!