- Title: A Rake’s Vow
- Author: Stephanie Laurens
- Series: Cynster #2
- Genre: Regency Romance
- Format: e-book
- Source: Own copy
- Reviewed by: Erica, Guest reviewer
- Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Description: He vowed he′d never marry.
To Vane Cynster, Bellamy Hall seems like the perfect place to temporarily hide from London′s husband hunters. But when he encounters irresistible Patience Debbington, Vane realises he′s met his match …
She vowed no man would catch her.
Patience isn′t about to succumb to Vane′s sensuous propositions. Yes, his kisses leave her dizzy and his caresses made her melt; but Patience has promised herself she′ll never become vulnerable to a broken heart. Is this one vow that was meant to be broken?
Review: The second of the Cynster novels, this is in many aspects a much better effort than the first one. Central to all of them (or at least the first six) are the Bar Cynster: six men of around the same age, all brothers or first cousins and all in want of wives, even if they do not know this or want to admit to it.
This is Regency England, shortly after the Napoleonic Wars, and the Cynster clan encompasses your typical alpha males. Outwardly they are perfect gentlemen, always turned out to perfection and looking frightfully dashing. They are arrogant to their fingertips, never prepared to admit that they are wrong or to bow down to anyone, certainly not a woman. The leading male in this book, Vane, summarises this to the leading lady early in the book: “I am not a gentleman,” he drawls confidently to her. “I am a conqueror.”
If you can handle your men this testosterone-laden, then this book is a joy to read. Vane is much the same as his cousin Devil (subject of the first book), but thankfully our heroine, Patience Debbington, is sufficiently different from Devil’s wife Honoria, and this isn’t just a repeat of book one but with different names. The whodunit subplot is also much better handled, in that this time I didn’t figure out the culprit until much, much later in the book.
The plot is pretty simple. Vane, on his way to somewhere or other, is forced to seek shelter with his godmother Minnie by an unexpected thunderstorm. As an aside, this appears a popular theme with this author: book one featured a thunderstorm, and there is another thunderstorm later in this book. I’m wondering whether this is a veiled way of showing that the Cynsters only bow to forces of nature, but I digress.
Minnie always plays hostess to a variety of people, and this time her strays include her niece Patience, who has taken her seventeen-year-old brother Gerrard with her to prepare him for introduction into the aristocratic ton. Vane sees Patience, desires her, and the rest is pretty easy to predict. The subplot revolves around a petty thief who steals objects of minor value and someone wandering the nearby ruins at night with a light, but it’s all just window-dressing to the centrepiece of Vane and Patience’s building desire for each other. I found most the secondary characters fairly interchangeable, which wasn’t helped by two of them being called Edgar and Edward, so I could never remember who was who, but again this did not detract from my overall enjoyment of the book.
The romance is sizzling, the sex is searing. I’m always curious as to how the men in this era manage to be so confidently experienced in the carnal arts when a woman is considered fallen if she has sex outside of marriage, but I haven’t often seen the whole ‘experienced man with green virgin’ trope this well-executed. I must also give Vane credit for actually being able to utter the words ‘I love you’, since Devil was too much of an alpha to do so.
All in all a gem of a romance, even if most of the other characters take second or even third fiddle, and while I hope that the whole range of manly Cynster men won’t start to get boring, I’m very much looking forward to the next book in this series.