Anja's Reviews > The Making of a Gentleman

The Making of a Gentleman by Shana Galen
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's review
Sep 09, 2010

it was ok
bookshelves: c, w-az
Read from October 15 to 17, 2010

I read this book because I was led to believe it had a character driven story similar to The Wild Child. I was wrong. Rather, it is similar superficially and only for the first half. Then it morphs into a wallpaper historical with a weak, last minute suspense/action plot.

The romance was bland. It had promise, especially with the pianoforte scenes, but derailed into standard telling. I wanted to see Armand and Felicity spending more time together connecting cerebrally or emotionally. It was cute how Armand was determined to marry Felicity but it quickly wore thin. He only wanted to marry her because he wanted to get laid.

I lost interest halfway through the book and started heavily skimming 75% through. Felicity’s fiancé’s action toward his ladybird was unnecessary and out of left-field. I never did understand why her fiancé wanted to enforce their betrothal, unless it was just because he knew he could extort money out of her for it. Too much was glossed over regarding Armand’s prison stay. I question how quickly Armand’s mind adapted to release from solitary confinement after 12 years. He was 11 years old when imprisoned but after only a few months released merely needed a few weeks of social lessons to regain his speech and become a functioning adult. The scientist in me has a lot of questions regarding stunted cognitive development. I wasn’t expecting a story like Nell but I would have thought more work was needed to develop Armand.

The writing was fine and I would consider giving the author another try. Good thing because I already own one of her earlier books.
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74.0% "Please just tell him about the blackmail. Why wouldn't you want help with this?"

Comments (showing 1-13 of 13) (13 new)

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message 1: by Catherine (new)

Catherine Great review, Anja! Hmmm, too bad the development was glossed over so much. I saw "The Wild Child" in your review and had to read it. I guess I was looking for another one along those lines too. :)

Anja Have you read Wild at Heart? It is similar from what I've heard. I have only read a few passages but it didn't catch my interest.

message 3: by Catherine (new)

Catherine No I haven't heard of it, it looks interesting.

I just noticed who the author is. Hmmm, I think I'm just going to pass.

Anja Did you break up with this author?

message 5: by Catherine (new)

Catherine No, not per se. I've only read one book by her, but I've heard that her style is pretty similar in each book.

The book I read was To Have and To Hold. Have you heard of that? I don't regret reading it, because it was fascinating in a way and it has stayed with me for years, but it didn't work for me as a romance at all.

I don't plan to ever reread that book, and I really don't want to read something similar to it either. I've steered clear of her ever since.

message 6: by Anja (last edited Oct 19, 2010 10:10AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Anja I've heard a lot about To Have and To Hold but I would prefer to read a book that isn't designed to make me angry. That book made me think of Lily, which I did read, because that hero is an asshole and abuses the heroine.

I've also read Crooked Hearts because I thought it would be a cute dueling con artists book similar to If Tomorrow Comes (which is wonderful even with a light romance subplot). The Gaffney book didn't make me angry but it wasn't compelling or romantic to my mind. I think the author is just not for me.

message 7: by Catherine (last edited Oct 19, 2010 10:03AM) (new)

Catherine Well, at least you made a more informed decision than me! :P

I just can't see deliberately picking up a book where I dread the psychological aspect of the romance. I don't know that any of her other books will have it, but I figure there are so many good books out there that I shouldn't waste my time test driving this author just because everyone else loves her.

Anja I feel like I can appreciate the story and what she tried to do with it without actually reading the book.

I'd already read the other two books before hearing about THaTH so when it got brought up multiple times as a rec I was already disinclined toward reading it. I'm not a fan of the fake rake so I don't imagine I'd be a fan of a true rake. However, I did like The Rake and the character growth shown so I may be blowing hot air.

In the days before I had a TBR & TBB I might have read it merely because back then I read anything by an author I'd already tried simply because I wasn't getting recommendations from anywhere. So while I dislike having a pile of books that I feel like will never get read, I love having the option of so many books that I already think I might like.

*Anja is very long winded and chatty today.*

message 9: by Catherine (new)

Catherine Anja wrote: "*Anja is very long winded and chatty today.*"


Anja wrote: "I'm not a fan of the fake rake so I don't imagine I'd be a fan of a true rake."

I would be very hesitant to label Sebastian just a "rake." I suppose he was, but that wasn't really the big focus of the story. He took the heroine, Rachel, on as a project. He wanted to see what the limits of his depravity were and he wanted to see how far he could push her before she broke. It was project-ish.

That's why it didn't work for me as a romance. He played with her like a serial killer would his victims. She was so broken. She had been beaten down in life so much that she was just going through the motions. She was lifeless. That's why he wanted to play with her.

I was fascinated by the complexities of his mind, but in the same way that I would be when reading about a serial killer. (I'm only comparing him to that because I read and enjoy books of real life serial killers and he sort of reminded me of them)

*Catherine is also long winded :)*

message 10: by Anja (new) - rated it 2 stars

Anja When I say a true rake I mean in the sense that he conducts himself immorally without care for ethics or principles, usually for purposes of being deliberately corrupt as that is what provides him pleasure, not in the sense of the Restoration rake (fake rake) which is what most historical romances base their rakes on.

I can see your parallel to a serial killer. Did he have Fractured Identity Syndrome (or as I call it, my mommy didn’t love me whiny pants)?

How exactly did Gaffney make Sebastian hit the wall and turn around? How did she take a broken heroine and make her strong enough to overcome and accept his prior treatment and redemption? Or is that why the romance didn’t work?

message 11: by Catherine (new)

Catherine Oh, I see what you mean about "rake" versus "fake rake!" My definition was at cross purposes with yours. :)

I've usually seen "fake rake" referring to guys who have a playboy image, but it's all a front and they're actually secretly sweet to children and puppies alike. (I find those characters irritating) The "rakes" are just usually the guys who care about their own pleasure and comfort over most others and are usually asses because they just don't care what people think. Until they meet her. I like those ones.


Sebastian had a bunch of friends over and he was letting them verbally torture her. She finally ran from the room and he just flipped. That was his turning point. He threw his friends out and then for the rest of the book tried his best to show her he was different.

Most people loved Sebastian and his turn around. I could see Rachel staying with him for the rest of her life too, but that was less because of his turn around (to me) and more because of her personality. She just endures.

Things had gotten way too out of line for me to ever be comfortable with a relationship between them. It just gave me the creeps when I thought of it romantically.

message 12: by Anja (new) - rated it 2 stars

Anja So, in essence, he could still be an “evil rake”. It seems like he just doesn’t like others playing with his toy. Only he gets to torture her. I would need to see his self-agency change to believe in a reformation. Other than stopping the horrendous behavior does he have any qualities that would make a person love him? Not all sociopaths become serial killers but a lot of them still talk and act in unpleasant ways or otherwise show their true colors.

I think for me to buy their relationship, I would need to see her gain strength and respect for herself. I need the heroine to be at least an equal in mental and emotional faculties or I see her continuing to accept any bad behavior in future and dismissing it. “But I lurve him.” “That’s how he shows he lurves me.”

Your “fake rake” I would call a costume rake. He wears it when necessary to get something and sheds it instantly after it is acquired. He’ll game you at the bar to get your number but is a nice guy on the actual date. Your “rake” adopts the behavior in regard to women but is able to hang the costume up only after thorough disillusionment (the best kind of historical romance rake IMO) or reward (marriage to the one virgin who can save his soul).

message 13: by Catherine (new)

Catherine He could be charming, and I suppose he was funny too. He did throw his support behind her in the end too. I'm sorry that I don't sound definite. It has been a while for me, and the particulars have faded. The only things that have stayed crystal clear are my reactions to his games and my disbelief in the happy ending.

I really didn't see her become strong and equal enough to match him. Her attitude just rubbed me wrong. I suppose it was accurate, but I just wanted her to fight and care. Even at the end she didn't seem fully alive to me. A lot of people did though, so it could just be me.

I love your examples of the rakes! Yes, I would agree with that all! Know any good rec's for the second kind? :D

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