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The Merridew Sisters #1

The Perfect Rake

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Fate has lavished beauty on the Merridew sisters—that is, all save the eldest. But plain Prudence bears no grudge; she loves her four beautiful sisters infinitely. So when their abusive grandfather is laid up with an injury, she seizes the opportunity to concoct an ingenious plan that will allow all five of them to escape the clutches of their legal guardian. All it will take is a little matrimonial deception...

A renowned rake, Gideon, Lord Carradice, has a way of making ladies swoon. But when Prudence arrives at his doorstep and mistakes him for his cousin, the Duke, it is Gideon who’s infatuated. The delightful spitfire claims she and the Duke are engaged—although a taller tale was never told. In spite of the lies, Gideon is so taken with charming Prudence that he’s eager to join her game, especially if it will award him a stolen kiss or two. Now, Prudence’s plot is about to go terribly, albeit deliciously, awry...

360 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published July 5, 2005

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About the author

Anne Gracie

84 books1,355 followers
I've always loved stories. Family legend has it that I used to spend hours playing in the sand pit, with a dog on either side of me and Rocka the horse leaning over me, his head just touching my shoulder, while I told them stories. I have to say, dogs and horses are great audiences, apart from their tendency to drool occasionally. But people are even nicer.

In case you imagine we were a filthy rich horse-owning family, let me assure you we weren't. The horse period was a time when my parents entered a "let's-be-self-sufficient" phase, so we had a horse, but no electricity and all our water came from the rain tank.

As well as the horse and dogs, we had 2 cows (Buttercup and Daisy and one of them always had a calf), a sheep (Woolly,) goats (Billy and Nanny) dozens of ducks, chooks, and a couple of geese, a pet bluetongue lizard and a huge vegie patch. I don't know how my mother managed, really, because both she and Dad taught full time, but she came home and cooked on a wood stove and did all the laundry by hand, boiling the clothes and sheets in a big copper kettle. Somehow, we were always warm, clean, well fed and happy. She's pretty amazing, my mum.

Once I learned to read, I spent my days outside playing with the animals (I include my brother and 2 sisters here) and when inside I read. For most of my childhood we didn't have TV, so books have always been a big part of my life. Luckily our house was always full of them. Travel was also a big part of my childhood. My parents had itchy feet. We spent a lot of time driving from one part of Australia to another, visiting relatives or friends or simply to see what was there. I've lived in Scotland, Malaysia and Greece. We travelled through Europe in a caravan and I'd swum most of the famous rivers in Europe by the time I was eight.

This is me and my classmates in Scotland. I am in the second front row, in the middle, to the right of the girl in the dark tunic.

Sounds like I was raised by gypsies, doesn't it? I was even almost born in a tent --Mum, Dad and 3 children were camping and one day mum left the tent and went to hospital to have me. But in fact we are a family of chalkies (Australian slang for teachers)- and Dad was a school principal during most of my life. And I am an expert in being "the new girl" having been to 6 different schools in 12 years.The last 4 years, however, were in the same high school and I still have my 2 best friends from that time.

No matter where I lived, I read. I devoured whatever I could get my hands on -- old Enid Blyton and Mary Grant Bruce books, old schoolboys annuals. I learned history by reading Rosemary Sutcliffe, Henry Treece and Georgette Heyer. I loved animal books -- Elyne Mitchell's Silver Brumby books and Mary Patchett and Finn the Wolf Hound. And then I read Jane Austen and Dickens and Mary Stewart and Richard Llewellyn and Virginia Woolf and EF Benson and Dick Francis and David Malouf and Patrick White and Doris Lessing and PD James and...the list is never ending.

This is me posing shamelessly on a glacier in New Zealand.
This is me in Greece with my good friend Fay in our village outfits. The film went a funny colour, but you get the idea. I'm the one in the pink apron.

I escaped from my parents, settled down and went to university.To my amazement I became a chalkie myself and found a lot of pleasure in working with teenagers and later, adults. I taught English and worked as a counsellor and helped put on plays and concerts and supervised camps and encouraged other people to write but never did much myself. It took a year of backpacking around the world to find that my early desire to write hadn't left me, it had just got buried under a busy and demanding job.

I wrote my first novel on notebooks bought in Quebec, Spain, Greece and Indonesia. That story never made it out of the notebooks, but I'd been bitten by the writing bug.

My friends and I formed a band called Platform Souls a

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5 stars
3,590 (32%)
4 stars
4,127 (37%)
3 stars
2,505 (22%)
2 stars
658 (5%)
1 star
234 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 913 reviews
Profile Image for Nalini Singh.
Author 268 books24.8k followers
May 2, 2016
Egads. Why have I not written of my love for this book? It's amazing, one of my favorite historicals! The hero is so *into* the heroine, it's wonderful. Sometimes, it's nice to get a dissolute rake who gets hit over the head with love and has to convince the heroine he can be who she needs him to be. Also, this book is just plain fun (though it does also have a more serious vein that runs through it).
Profile Image for Jilly.
1,838 reviews6,164 followers
February 6, 2017
Who doesn't love a reformed rake in HR? They are so charming and funny. And, funny is my Achilles Heel. My hubs should know. You get me to laugh and I'm helpless to your charms. You would think that this weakness would make me like clowns. But, you would be wrong. Clowns are an abomination. They are pure evil and should never be thought of as anything less than spawns of satan.

Holy shit! Nightmares commencing now..

Lord Carradice is a proper rake. He is immune to the charms of women, until he meets Prudence. She is a plain girl with beautiful sisters and was being held prisoner by an abusive grandparent until she made an escape to London. When these two meet, it doesn't exactly go well at first. It basically culminates with her beating the crap out of him with her purse. I like this girl.

But, she has inadvertently gotten herself into a fake betrothal with him, so she is stuck with him. I can think of worse things. This guy really cracks me up.

When they are at a party where the hostess's daughter is playing the violin:

"..from the sounds emanating from her, she must be standing on a cat, and I don't approve of cruelty to animals - or ears!..... Whoever that girl's music master is, he should be hanged, drawn, and quartered - preferably while she plays him a dirge on that thing."

Oh jeez, this guy would have ruined me within minutes of meeting him. He's my kryptonite.

But, Prudence is secretly engaged to a total asshole (although she doesn't see it. Yet.), so she is determined not to let this rake get to her. And, of course, this makes him want her more. He sees her as the most beautiful woman he has ever met. He sees her sisters as plain, although they are beautiful. He can't even wrap his head around the idea that others think she is plain. I have to say that if the humor didn't get me, his vision of her did. It was super adorable the way he found her so irresistible.

When he is talking to his cousin about Prudence and her sisters:

Cousin: "Prudence's sisters are all quite extraordinarily beautiful."

Gideon frowned. "Beautiful? Are they" Are you sure?... As lovely as Prudence?"

The duke's jaw dropped. "much lovelier than Prudence. Each one of her sisters, even little Grace would outshine Prudence in every respect."

Gideon stared at him in a moment's disbelief. "I might not have taken much notice of the other sisters, but I did spend upwards of half hour with young Grace, and though she's a nice little thing and quite pretty, she's not a patch on Prudence."

Edward observed him solemnly for a moment and then gave a large, satisfied sigh. "This," he said, "promises to be vastly entertaining."

Now, that's a keeper! A guy who always looks at you with beer goggles on!

This story was fun and amusing, but there were a few darker elements as well. The grandfather was very horrible and there is an obvious rape that happened, but wasn't actually addressed. Still, those dark things did not bring down the story at all. I was still smiling through most of the book and got the warm fuzzies by the end.
Profile Image for Dina.
1,324 reviews1,213 followers
August 11, 2011
I loved this book! It was funny and endearing at the same time. I don't remember when was the last time I laughed so much with a book, and I "blame" Gideon for that. :) He played the role of the charming rake to perfection but, wow, when he fell for his beloved "Miss Imp", he really fell hard and fast! I cheered out loud - in my mind, that is! - with his final act of bravery and heroism.

Prudence, Gideon's beloved "Miss Imp", was a hoot too. Her failed attempts at resisting his charms had me smiling throughout the whole book. Her loyalty to her "fiancé" Phillip seemed a little exaggerated at first, considering how young she was when she made her vow to him and how long had been since they were separated, but it was all explained when she revealed her "secret" to Gideon. That was a very sad moment and I really hated Phillip for what he did, and the sentiment only got worse with his further actions. Thankfully, Gideon was there to save the day and love Prudence as she deserved!

Some of the antics performed by Gideon and Prudence were almost silly and did not have any resemblance to reality, but I really didn't care because I was just having too much fun. Kudos to the author for writing scenes and dialogues so entertaining that you find yourself immersed in her storytelling and forget everything else!
Profile Image for Lady Gabriella of Awesomeness (SLOW).
520 reviews760 followers
April 8, 2015
COME live with me and be my Love,
And we will all the pleasures prove.

There will I make thee beds of roses
And a thousand fragrant posies, 10
A cap of flowers, and a kirtle
Embroider'd all with leaves of myrtle.


If these delights thy mind may move,
Then live with me and be my Love.

THE PERFECT RAKE...was a beautiful love story that revolved around Prudence Merridew and Aristocratic Gideon romancing under the light of the glossy ballroom of London's ton.

The story starts out with young prudence deciding to leave her childhood home with the rest of her sisters in hope of safeguarding her young sisters from their abusive uncle,her father brother who despised her mother for ruining the family linage before dying away.

orphaned and abused pure, doesn't believe that love was something she would ever get, until she meets,our young,dashing and Aristocratic Lord Gideon,whose promised to win her heart and marry her , if that the last thing he's ever going to do...her fiance be damned. ;)

Initially when i started out, i expected the tale to follow in a very typical pattern that's usually the layed out plot for all rakish story..but boy wasn't in for a surprise.

This the plot was hilarious.....

“What if I shave?" he said. "I look much better when I'm shaved. My cousin will vouch for that—do I not look almost handsome when I shave, Edward? " He didn't wait for the duke's reply but turned earnestly back to Prudence. "Do you think you could marry me if I shaved?”

full of mayhem,drama and romance from its initial pages to its very romantic end....

“I shan't mind if you don't," he agreed. "But I'll not let you go, Prudence. Til not pester you, but know this: I will wait until you choose to listen to your heart."

"Pshaw." It was a feeble effort. She took a deep breath and tried again. "Humbug! How can you presume to know my heart?"

He smiled a slow, devastating smile. "You are my heart." And you know it.”

with strong ah-mazing and hilarious leads AND secondary characters..,(especially the Gideon ! rakish devil ,he stole my heart !)

this book was an absolute delight to read,and defiantly a promising debut to the rest of the series...

:To anybody in search of a fun yet absolutely entertaining historical read for the day.

trust me this is one of those books you'll never regret picking up in the first place =)
Profile Image for Shawna.
3,510 reviews4,570 followers
July 10, 2010
4 ½ stars – Historical Romance

Oh what a delightful, sweet treat this turned out to be! Gideon, Lord Carradice is a devilishly charming, flirtatious, affable, seemingly carefree and superficial rake, but he harbors an underlying heart of gold, an innate caring, protective nature, and a hidden, deep yearning for love. And all it takes to rumple his composed, raffish façade and reveal the truly sweet, adoring, and devoted man within is a feisty, spirited, redheaded, fiercely loyal, and nearly on the shelf spinster and sister, Prudence Merridew.

There are some sad parts because of the abuse Prudence and her sisters suffer at the violent hands of their grandfather and painful secrets in both Gideon's and Prue's pasts, but it's also filled with numerous funny, tender, and romantic moments.

Overall, The Perfect Rake is a nearly perfect read with a sexy, lovable, to die for reformed rake hero and sweet, endearing romance that will leave you with a big, happy smile on your face. It certainly did that for me!
Profile Image for ♥ℳelody.
616 reviews610 followers
May 16, 2023
The characters like to talk. A lot. Which is why I had to skim the last 100 pages. Anne Gracie's writing style reminds me of Julie Garwood or Amanda Quick. Which isn't really my cuppa. It's very dramatic and over the top where everyone is exclaiming things! Statements are phrased like questions. Characters are flowery with their words, even the supposed jaded "Rake" hero Gideon, who I found two dimensional at best. The heroine Prudence and her sisters are horribly abused by their lunatic grandfather, the opening scene is Prudence and her sisters saving their baby sister from an awful beating. So the setup is pretty dark but for some reason the author chooses humor and light comedy through the rest of the story which felt odd. Five sisters dealing with horrific physical abuse for years showing no sign of trauma or PTSD? Prudence had no physical scars from all the thrashings she got? Really? I don't know it didn't sit right with me. I get the author wanted to show her as resilient and strong but I found it so unrealistic how they all seemed so unfazed by it. If you make us sit through an unnecessarily long gruesome scene of the grandfather beating the heroine with a cane over and over and over again and all she has to show for it is some bruising but she's eager to have sex with the hero just a few hours later then yes I'm gonna be a little irked. There's only so much suspension of belief I can take in one story. Just saying.

This is supposed to be a slow burn but it didn't really feel that way considering the hero instantly falls for the heroine the first time they meet and he pursues her through the rest of the story. I thought their first meeting was hilarious and cute but everything after just fell flat for me and dragged on. I didn't believe the insta-love nor the chemistry. And the source of conflict over why Prudence couldn't be with Gideon was silly at best and tiring and stupid the longer it continued. She gave her promise to marry her first love Phillip 4 years ago, a man who left her behind to go to India and stopped answering her letters. A man who we find out

WHAAAT??! And in case you still aren't sure it's later hinted at again during the hero & heroine's sex scene when she remembers how Phillip ripped her clothes off and tries to mentally block it off. I'm sorry but I found this so confusing. I'm putting emphasis on this because you put readers through all this misery of the heroine waxing poetic over some man she loves and how she can never break her vow to him, blah blah blah for 80% of the fucking story for an abusive prick? Like....huh?! She nearly killed her sister for revealing her secret betrothal and kept defending his honor so color me extremely confused. Stuff wasn't adding up for me.

Did I read the same book as others? I honestly felt I was missing something here because I didn't understand why the heroine was twisted up in knots and distraught over breaking a vow to someone who did that to her much less never telling the hero what that man did to her before having sex. I get being naive and I'm assuming the author wanted us to just chalk everything up to naivete but this made Prudence TSTL in my book considering how she kept comparing Gideon "the rake" to him. Let me repeat again she kept comparing the hero to a man who raped her and Gideon falling short. It made my brain cramp. Gideon was an angel compared to this guy. I just found it a little out of character and inconsistent. It lacked coherency. We have to sit through constant reminders of how she can't break her promise to Phillip, how she has his mother's ring, she made "sacred" vows to him in the graveyard in front of her dead parents (so romantic), she had his baby so they are bound together, she never breaks a promise, etc. I swear you would think this girl signed her life away to the man when nobody even knew they were secretly engaged to begin with. Let me stress that again, nobody knew about the betrothal, so the conflict of Prudence not being able to accept another man's betrothal didn't hold enough weight for me. If it was a public betrothal I could understand her internal conflict more. But boo boo, you gave your promise to someone who literally abused you and ditched you. Make that make sense. It didn't make any sense to me and made it painful to sit through. That and the constant foot dragging of her putting off telling Gideon how she feels because she needed to break it off with her fiance first. Then it's because she was overwhelmed, then it's because she was confused and unsure, then it was because she gets kidnapped. It was draaaaaaaaged out for all it's worth.

As for the villainous Grandfather, I found him so ridiculous. When he pulled out a fucking whip and started whipping people in a coaching inn when Prudence tried to escape him I nearly threw the book against a wall. What a cartoon. I do have the other 2 books in this series on my TR list since I found her sisters more intriguing but I'm not sure if I can sit through another book by this author. She's too slapstick for me. We shall see.
Profile Image for Joanna Loves Reading.
563 reviews215 followers
January 21, 2021
Reread/listen Jan 2021

So glad this was released in audio by a decent narrator!

I looooooooove how Gideon sees Prudence. Gorgeous to his eyes. Selfless. Honest, despite the fact they meet in a lie. He can see the why, the reason behind her actions. Melts me to a puddle every time.

Also - and this is a key moment - when Prudence and her sisters need to flee, he helps no questions asked. He trusts that she has good reasons >>> I’m here every day for that.

Previous Read
4.5 Stars—I think this was better with the reread. It is a lovely blend of funny, sweet and serious.

Read for HRBC October 2018 BOTM selection.
Profile Image for Preeti ♥︎ Her Bookshelves.
1,291 reviews19 followers
April 9, 2018
This book went from an insanely hilarious beginning to a sadly ordinary middle, to end in a dramatic and satisfyingly bloodlusty climax. So an above average read despite the story and the plotline leaving me just a bit dissatisfied.

I won’t go into details but I liked the book for two and a half reasons –
First, because I was tickled silly, lolling-about-holding-my-sides tickled silly!
The book finds its funny groove in the 3rd chapter and keeps shooting one sharp witticism after another.
“….and I thought you would suit my purposes perfectly, being a famous hermit—”
“Are you really?” he interjected interestedly.
“Am I what?” demanded Prudence, confused.
“A famous hermit.”
“Not me, lack-wit—you!” she snapped.

Across Prudence’s head, Sir Oswald waggled his eyebrows at Gideon in a man-to-man fashion. Gideon, not knowing what else to do, waggled his back. ....
....“Do you think ladies’ eyebrows can communicate as well?” she asked.
“No, they don’t have sufficient thicketry,” he said with authority.
“Yes, that is the official term.”

Oh yes, the half point is for Great Uncle Oswald (probably the father of modern herbalism) with his penchant for secret concoctions and herbal teas (dandelion, rhubarb, cowslip and what have you!) and those deadly purges!
She felt a sudden twinge in her stomach; Great-uncle Oswald’s herbal purge making its presence felt. She grimaced and rose hurriedly, wishing there was an equally effective herbal remedy against rakes.

And the second solid reason is the H!
I can safely say I haven’t encountered another like him ever before – he’s just perfect!
Sweet, kind, generous, gentle, caring, witty and so in love with the plain-jane h. He combines the best of alpha and beta qualities. (This book, by the way, has the best and worst examples of masculinity- while there are two who resemble the kind of things one hopes to not step on while out dog walking, the other two - the H and Great Uncle Oswald - leave you with the warmest loveliest feeling ever.)
The whole world, including her own sisters think her plain, but from the moment the H meets her, he has eyes for no other – not even her celebrated beauties of sisters! It was almost like a love potion/spell effect on him or simply true love!
“I shall wait for you until I am old and gray if I must. But I’ll have you in the end, my Prudence. And you’ll come to me with a whole heart, you’ll see.”

“If you were mine, I'd never leave you, Prudence. I couldn't.”

And so..
“When a rake falls, he falls so hard.”

Solid 4 stars just for him! And a 1/2 for Great uncle Oswald!
Profile Image for Mariana.
676 reviews69 followers
March 29, 2022
Reread Mad About the Series Challenge

"He may have lost your mother, but he had you, his son, to love and to love him back. If he had thought of you, instead of himself, he would have remembered that love. And it would have healed him. Even when no one loves you, there is always someone to love, someone who needs to be loved. Always. You just have to look outside yourself.”"

October 2018 BOTM

Profile Image for Phrynne.
3,228 reviews2,057 followers
September 13, 2015
This was lots of fun. Anne Gracie has picked up the style of Georgette Heyer, added some sex and made it her own. Gideon (the Rake in the title) is a wonderful character worthy of anything Miss Heyer could have written. I still want to know how eyes can actually look limpid but it sounds marvelous. I am a sucker for anything Regency and this one scored high. I shall be reading more of her books.
Profile Image for Zero.
441 reviews20 followers
March 11, 2023
1st read: June 2021
2nd read: March 2023

This book is super sweet and I love it, but it has some annoying parts.

Gideon is really funny in the first half of the book and he's really sweet in the second half. Prudence is awesome, but she hasa lot to deal with throughout the book and has some insecurities.

Prudence's family bugs me a lot of the time. They mention a few times in the beginning that Prudence is "plain" and that no one will want her if they meet her sisters because they are so beautiful. (Gideon thinks that Prudence is gorgeous and that everyone who calls your "plain" is an idiot).

The fact that Prudence is "betrothed" when she kisses Gideon is bit problematic (but Philip is horrible, so it's not that big of a deal).

Gideon only has eyes for Prudence from the moment that he meets her, but his "Rake-ish" past isn't great.

And there's a scene when Gideon is holding Prudence and she tells him to let her go, but he keeps holding her until she hits him.

Original review:
The Perfect Rake is really good! The plot had a lot going on and was interesting throughout. The main characters, Gideon and Prudence, are great.

Gideon is funny, sweet, and very in love with Prudence. He's tried to live a shallow life, but realizes that he wants more with Prudence. Prudence is strong for those that she cares for, but she's insecure. She falls in love with Gideon, but worries that she is misinterpreting his intentions. She also has some things from her past to deal with.

There were a couple things that I didn't like about The Perfect Rake. Some of the writing didn't flow well for me, but the plot and the dialogue were great, so it worked out fine. I also didn't love some of the secondary characters, but maybe they get better in later books.
Profile Image for Somia.
2,051 reviews130 followers
August 20, 2020
I forgot how much I enjoy this book, there are some very amusing moments in the first half of the book as Prudence and Gideon interact, I couldn’t’ stop smiling. That said there is a slightly dark undertone to some of the book, in that Prudence and her sisters have run away from their abusive and controlling grandfather and the book does start with showing this and what leads to them escaping. But overall the tone is one of adventure and humour.

One thing I didn’t like is that the sisters referred to their grandfather as grandpapa – as this implies affection and care, but as is clear from the onset the man is a cruel abusive toad that the sisters fear and more than dislike. And I wished that the initial reactions from The Earl, uncle and Gideon to learning of the abuse was depicted a tad more potently – more depth and emotion was needed.

Nevertheless a delightful re-read!
Profile Image for Edwina " I LoveBooks" "Deb".
1,346 reviews17 followers
August 7, 2012
The Perfect Rake is a story about 5 young girls (sisters) that suffer horriable physical and mental abuse at the hands of their grandpapa who has taken them in because their parents ar dead. The Grandfather is very sadistic. the eldest sister is Prudence (heroine) in the story escapes with her sister to go to London to live with their Great Uncle. To accomplish this Prudence had to lie more times than I can count as the story goes on.The Grand Uncle wont let the other sister come out until Prudence has found a husband because she is very plain looking and her sister s are beautiful. The very selfish sisters convenience her to lie once again. she does this by arriving at the Duke of Dinstable house were she want to tell him she has ensnared him in a betroth to her by telling her uncle they are engaged, but it is not the Duke she is speaking with it is his cousin Lord Carradice( Hero) in the story. May problems with the book was Prudence has been engaged with a man name Phillip for 4 plus years he has taken her virtue barely write as he in living in Indian, an she also has to keep the betroth a secret. A 12 year old can see the writing on the wall that hes just not that in to you!!! She defends him constantly and berates Lord Carridice and treats him very nasty because she has been told he is a rake and libertine, but he is the one who is always willing to help her with her lies and deception to keep her and her sisters safe from their grand papa . So how can Prudence treat him so badly after all of her abuse and neglect she has received from Phiilip? It is obvious to the reader that Philip has got from her want he wants! and now he just doesn't want her to not tell anyone!!! and she cant figure this out!!! how stupid can you be? Very depressing story it just doesn't work for me I don't understand authors who write romance novels and put all the child abuse and rape in the story. That's not a romance story for me a bit to depressing I wont be buying the other books in the series!!! Also their could have been a lot more sensual romance in the story to balance it out instead of the constant repeating of how Ugly Prudence was this was sad really!!!
Profile Image for Didi.
865 reviews288 followers
April 11, 2015
I'm not a huge fan of humorous HR, I much prefer more emotional angst, seriousness interspersed with bits of wit, and depth of feeling. Not to say there wasn't emotion here, there was, but not the kind I love. I loved Gideon, seeing a notorious rake fall hard and fast is always a winner for me. Prudence was okay, not a memorable heroine exactly, maybe because she was of the humorous variety. There also seemed to be many exclamation marks as if everyone had something loud or exciting to say. Anyways, this is a well loved book so it's more my tastes that prevent me from rating it higher.
Profile Image for Juliana Philippa.
1,010 reviews918 followers
May 19, 2020
5 stars
Prudence Merridew is very plain (you will hear about this a lot in the book—too much), especially when compared to her four extremely beautiful younger sisters. Oddly enough it is notoriously infamous rake, Gideon, Lord Carradice, who sees only a strong-minded spitfire with beautiful grey eyes and proves the saying that "beauty is in the eye of the beholder." This book is utterly fantastic, Gideon is definitely one of my favorite heroes of all-time, and—while very dark in some parts—The Perfect Rake will have you laughing out loud in others!
Profile Image for Robin (Bridge Four).
1,608 reviews1,481 followers
November 27, 2018
A Perfect Rake is perfectly fun and I was rooting for Pru and her sisters from the very start. Even the meeting between Pru and Gideon was so funny. She very much was trying to save him from a debacle of her making and he was having far too much fun just playing with her. It was entertaining and I was thinking the entire book was going to be so much fun. And it was at times but there is a lot of down time when nothing is really happening and so some of this book moved very slow for me.

Gideon is completely fun. An unapologetic rake who has a few scruples like no innocents and only will bed partners. He is great at teasing and cajoling Pru who is full of rules and is so busy taking care of everyone else she has little time for her own desires. Some of their banter was terribly fun though.
“Do you think ladies’ eyebrows can communicate as well?” she asked.
“No, they don’t have sufficient thicketry,” he said with authority.
“Yes, that is the official term.”

Of course as soon as the infamous rake meets the damsel in distress it is an instant infatuation with her and he becomes pretty besotted rather quickly. Still Gideon was the high point for me in the book. The way he sees Pru is really something and I liked how he saw her past for what it was and didn’t care about it a smidge.

Pru has a lot to overcome, including and MIA fiancé that wandered off to India without her. That isn’t going to stand in the way of Gideon though. Pru is the prize and his eye is on her no doubt.

This is an easy read that could have been trimmed a little around the edges but had some nice characters and a fun strangers falsely engaged story.
Profile Image for Grecia Robles.
1,485 reviews341 followers
April 18, 2021
No recuerdo mucho de este libro y eso que lo leí hace dos meses, ups...

Lo que sí recuerdo es que el protagonista era muy divertido y me hizo mucho reír..
Profile Image for S.
381 reviews91 followers
November 14, 2015
This book was amazing! Amazing, amazing, amazing. It was so good - straight to favs. And Gideon *swoons* might very well be the most amazing hero ever. This was the funniest, most heart-warming, romantic book I have read all year. If you like historical romances this is a must-read. I can't believe I had this on my TBR-shelf for so long - but the better for me right now :-)

It is always difficult to review an amazing book because nothing you say can really explain the magic of the story and all words feel to small. The plot was wonderful. Prudence is the eldest sister of five and takes care of her your sisters and try to protect them from their abusive guardian. When he falls down the stairs they escape to London and must marry soon - before their Grandpapa recovers. Their great uncle wants to marry of Prudence first, but she's already secretly betrothed to her childhood love who she hasn't seen for over four years. But since her sisters cannot enter society before she is wed she conjures a fake betrothal to a duke who never visits London - only he has just arrived. Prudence tries to save the day but only tangles herself further when she mistakes Gideon for the duke, and it doesn't get any easier when they start to fall in love.

This book was so funny without being silly. Gideon was the sweetest, most protective, adorable rakish hero and following his confusion about falling in love with Prue was adorable. Prudence is so loyal, a protective motherly hen who does everything for others and really never put herself first. All her sisters are beauties but she's the ugly duckling - only Gideon cannot see that.

"Plain? Why the devil does everyone keep saying she is plain?" declared Gideon in exasperation. "Do you all need spectacles?"

I give up. I cannot describe this amazing book. The character development and the plot was wonderful and I couldn't stop reading. I loved all characters (except the evil ones) and little sister Grace warmed my heart. Gideon provided laughter, charm, super sweet sigh moments and totally hot possessive alpha moments *swoon*.
Profile Image for Mei.
1,881 reviews414 followers
October 31, 2014
A sweet and very cute book.

I liked the heroine, Prudence, even if I was torn. On one hand I liked her quick wit and her ingenuity, on the other I hated her stubborness when it went against her. But still, I liked her and sometimes even admired her!

If I liked Pru, I adored Gideon! He was fantastic! His devious mind was plain genius! His way of confounding Pru with double meanings was fantastic!

The very best part of this book was the dialogue! Brilliant!

All in all a very funny and enjoyable book!
Profile Image for Debby *BabyDee*.
1,172 reviews61 followers
October 8, 2018
Anne Gracie did a fabulous job with this story. I truly loved Prudence and Gideon. It didn't hurt that the other characters helped the story move along.

There were scenes that had me boiling and some that had me smiling. Plenty of laughable moments and teary eyed ones as well.

I loved this well written novel and welcome reading more from this author.

5 🌟 on this enjoyable read.☺
Profile Image for Caz.
2,680 reviews1,015 followers
November 18, 2015
4.5 stars

This is my second year taking part in Super Wendy’s Multi-Blog TBR Challenge, and even though I don’t read the various romance sub-genres widely, I’ve nonetheless managed to find something in my TBR pile to fit the prompts each month. But I’m afraid I’m going to wuss out for the first time. November’s prompt is “It’s all about the hype” – and I don’t have anything that fits the bill. For one thing, historical romances don’t attract that sort of attention any more and for another, as an ex-PR professional, one whiff of hype is enough to make me head for the hills and almost guarantee I’m NOT going to read the book in question!

So instead, I decided to pick up a book from my TBR pile that has been recommended to me various times and is regarded as one of those that every self-respecting historical romance reader should have read. I don’t have too many of those on my TBR these days, and while Anne Gracie’s The Perfect Rake is no Lord of Scoundrels or Flowers from the Storm, it’s a thoroughly enjoyable story which, while mostly light-hearted and humorous, is nonetheless peppered with some darker themes and incidents which add weight to the overall texture and provide a necessary counterpoint to a book which could otherwise have turned into a farce.

It’s unusual to open an historical romance on a shocking scene, but The Perfect Rake does just that, as our heroine, Prudence Merridew has to rescue her youngest sister, Grace, from the severe beating being inflicted upon her by their vicious, maniacal grandfather. The five girls were left to his guardianship following the death of their parents, and he frequently beats and abuses them all. When the old man falls and breaks his leg chasing Prudence down the stairs, she decides, once and for all, that they must get away before one of them is killed. With their grandfather confined to bed, and with the help of the local doctor, Prudence concocts a scheme which sees them away to London to stay with their great-uncle Oswald. In a few weeks, Prue will be twenty-one, and the guardianship of her sisters will revert to her; and if one of them can marry quickly, the fortune left them by their parents will become available to them. With her sisters being such beauties, Prudence is utterly convinced that they will attract the right sort of male attention, and so she has high hopes of their being able to escape their grandfather for good.

Great-uncle Oswald, a fashionable and very kind older gentlemen, is delighted to see his five nieces, and is not only keen to have them stay with him, but also kits them out with new wardrobes and agrees to sponsor their débuts in society. There is, however, an unforeseen snag when Oswald, believing that anyone who sees the younger sisters will not look twice at Prudence, decides that he will “fire her off” alone, and not allow her sisters to appear in public until she has attracted a suitor. She is dismayed – this was not part of her plan at all, and besides, she regards herself as betrothed to Philip Otterbury, a young man employed in one of her grandfather’s businesses out in India, so cannot possibly contract another engagement.

Desperate to find a way to change her great-uncle’s mind, Prudence tells him she is betrothed to the reclusive Duke of Dinstable, knowing that the duke lives far away in Scotland and never leaves his estate. Unfortunately, however, the duke has decided it’s time to find himself a wife and has just arrived in London. Frantic, Prudence goes to his town house early the next morning to pre-empt Uncle Oswald’s call, and finds herself face-to-face with the handsomest – and most annoying – man she’s ever met.

Lord Gideon Caradice is actually the duke’s cousin, and has a reputation as a rake of the first order. Beneath the façade, however, is a truly good, kind-hearted man with a protective streak a mile wide. He’s adorable - gorgeous, funny and charming and even though his flippancy annoys Prudence, she can’t help but be amused by him and struck by his good-looks.

Their conversation here sets the tone for most of their interchanges throughout the book, which are frequently laugh-out-loud funny, often insightful and sometimes beautifully tender. Prudence has become used to thinking of herself as the ugly-duckling of the family, yet she is not envious of her sisters or bitter, wanting only the best for them. So it comes as a major surprise to her to realise that to Gideon, SHE is the beautiful one and he hasn’t even noticed her sisters.

"Plain? Why the devil does everyone keep saying she is plain?" declared Gideon in exasperation. "Do you all need spectacles?"

Where Prudence has looked at herself and seen a small, freckled, unfashionably red-haired young woman, Gideon sees a spirited, curvaceous beauty who trades him quip for quip and heats his blood. I do love the “rake felled by love” trope, and there’s no doubt that Gideon falls fast and hard for Prudence. She is equally smitten, but holds herself back; at first, she thinks his compliments are just the offhand flirtations of a hardened rake, and also feels bound by her betrothal to Philip. Prudence doesn’t take her promises lightly, and her loyalty is another of the things Gideon loves about her, even though, in this instance, it works against him.

Both principals are beautifully drawn characters and the reader is left in no doubt that they are perfect for each other. Given his background as the child of an unhappy marriage, Gideon could easily have been one of those stereotypical brooding heroes who swears off love, but he isn’t. There is a hint of darkness there, but he covers it with a lovely self-deprecating charm and his quick wit, often concealing his keen intelligence behind a buffoonish mask. The depth of his affection for Prudence is wonderful to see, and she truly blossoms under his care. She’s been holding her family together for so long, shoring up her sisters’ spirits by telling them stories of their young lives in Italy:

“We were all born in Italy, in a house filled with sunshine and laughter and love and happiness, and I promise you, no matter how bad it seems, one day we shall all live like that again. With sunshine and laughter and love and happiness. I promise!”

- and of their loving parents, vowing that she will get them away from their nightmarish life; and I loved that she at last found someone who could relieve her of some of that burden.

As is obvious, I really enjoyed The Perfect Rake, although I do have a couple of minor niggles. I’ve already mentioned that the opening is shocking, and while I don’t have a problem with that, I found the sudden change from dark to light once the girls have arrived in London to be a little jarring. I had the same feeling towards the end of the book when the mood again changes abruptly – this time in the opposite direction, and takes a turn for the overly melodramatic. What worked better were the hints dropped throughout the story about Prudence’s past and the truly disgusting treatment she received at the hands of the men who were supposed to care for her. It’s that which makes her story all the more uplifting; she suffered mistreatment and a terrible tragedy and yet she is still able to find it within herself to face the world and to fall in love.

Ms Gracie’s writing flows beautifully, and the humour in the book never feels artificial or forced. There is a strong cast of secondary characters including Prudence’s sisters and their formidable Aunt Agatha, the wonderfully unconventional widow of a South American nobleman. In spite of my small reservations, I’d definitely recommend The Perfect Rake to anyone looking for a light-hearted read with a bit of substance to it.
Profile Image for Jo.
957 reviews201 followers
February 8, 2017

And when a rake finally falls, he falls forever.


Oh, how I absolutely loved this book, every single part of it.

Gideon is the perfect rake, really he is. I loved how flirtatious he is, and he was just amazing with Prudence. To him she wasn’t plain like she was to everyone else, to him she was the most beautiful woman in the world.

“If you were mine, I'd never leave you, Prudence. I couldn't.”

Prudence was just an amazing character, so loyal and protective of her sisters. All she wanted for her sisters was sunshine, laughter, love and happiness. Never believing that she could have that too.

Prudence sisters were so adorable, especially little Grace, and I loved the secondary characters in the book.

The chemistry between Gideon and Prudence was intense, and I loved their romance.

“I shan't mind if you don't," he agreed. "But I'll not let you go, Prudence. Til not pester you, but know this: I will wait until you choose to listen to your heart."
"Pshaw." It was a feeble effort. She took a deep breath and tried again. "Humbug! How can you presume to know my heart?"
He smiled a slow, devastating smile. "You are my heart." He lifted her hand and kissed it. "And our hearts beat in tune. I know it—I, who used not to believe in such things. And you know it.”

This book is going on my keeper shelf, and I will reread it again and again. I can’t wait to read the rest of the series.

Profile Image for HR-ML.
1,091 reviews39 followers
July 12, 2021
WARNING : Domestic violence depicted in this story.

This was my 3rd reading of this book. I felt conflicted
about the humor and sorrow. Setting: England 1816.

This story contained 3 romances-
1) Witty hero Gideon & heroine Prudence,
2) Prue's sister & a fine man &
3) Prue's uncle & his friend/ hero's aunt. (HEA implied).

Prue & her 4 beautiful sibs took flight from their abuser.
Prue lied to widowed Uncle Oswald, who took them in
& became enchanted with his 5 nieces. Prue told many
lies to protect the 5. Prue discovered another dastardly
male & liar (not Uncle Ozzie).

At the start, Prue mistook Gideon for another. Also he
saw her as mercurial & she saw him as frivolous and
never serious. Gideon questioned his rake-ness and
decided those were "empty dalliances" once he discov-
ered love. Gideon showed wit when taking on his rival.

The evil abuser fell early on & should have had a brain
injury or died. I'm not a violent person, but he took up
too much air & space for my taste.

Ultimately the solid love of the H+h prevailed.

Profile Image for Carol Cork *Young at Heart Oldie*.
425 reviews203 followers
February 6, 2016
**5 CAPTIVATING …”when a rake finally falls, he falls forever” STARS**

This was my first book by Anne Gracie and I will certainly be dipping into more of her books, based on how much I loved this one. It’s romantic, funny and full of characters who totally captured my heart. There are some darker moments, but they never overshadowed the lovely heart-warming feeling I had after I finished reading it.

How could anyone love such a wicked, funny, foolish man? How could they not?

Oh, Gideon is such a wonderful hero. Wickedly charming, amiable and flirtatious, he hides a vulnerable heart beneath his frivolous rakishness. A lonely, sad, loveless childhood has made him determined to embrace a carefree lifestyle, determined to show the world that he cares for nothing and no-one. He sees love as a weakness but that changes the moment he meets a certain Prudence Merridew!

I love how, when everyone else regards Prudence as plain, Gideon sees her as unique and beautiful.

“Plain! Is there something wrong with your eyes? She’s not the slightest bit plain! Those eyes, that smile, that hair— from top to toe, Prudence Merridew is a rare little gem!”

It is refreshing to see Gideon as the one falling hopelessly in love first and being open and honest about his feelings for Prudence. His kindness and thoughtfulness is so clearly revealed in the way he treats Grace, the youngest of the Merridew sisters, and how he brings joy back into all the sisters’ lives.

Prudence could have hugged him. Not since their parents had died had her sisters laughed and sung and giggled with such riotous glee.

It is chilling to read the abuse that Prudence and her four sisters suffered at the hands of their grandfather, a bitter, hate-filled old man, and discovering the true extent of his cruelty towards Prudence is truly heart-rending. Their plight seems more poignant knowing how different their lives had been before their parents died… filled with sunshine and laughter and love and happiness.

Prudence’s overwhelming love for her sisters shines through and she finds the strength, determination and courage to plan their escape from their grandfather’s clutches and find a safe haven with their caring Great-uncle Oswald. It tugged at my heartstrings when Prudence promises them that one day their lives will once more be filled with sunshine, laughter, love and happiness.

Gideon’s determination to win Prudence had me rooting for him all the way but Prudence’s misplaced loyalty to the pompous, mercenary Phillip Otterbury had me so frustrated. Luckily, as with any good romances, Phillip’s true colours are revealed. I love the scene where Gideon outmanoeuvres him with just wit alone.

I loved the kind-hearted Great-uncle Oswald, such a contrast to his brother, and the forceful Aunt Gussie who makes short shrift of Otterbury.

“I am morally responsible for this young lady, and I can see it will do her no good at all to be alone in your company. In fact, Mr. Ottertosh”— she rose from the sofa—“I think it is high time you departed. Shoebridge shall show you the way out.” She reached for the bellpull and yanked hard.

(Ottertosh is just one of various amusing names Otterbury gets called)

There is a sweet secondary romance between the Duke of Dinstable and Charity Merridew which is mostly played out off page and doesn’t detract from the main romance at all.

I love the humour which runs throughout the story and acts as a counterpoint to the darker moments. Here are a couple of my favourite humorous quotes…

“I would appreciate it if you would stop… stop… ogling me like that,” she hissed, tugging her very modest neckline higher. “It is very embarrassing.” She folded her arms across her breasts defensively.

“It wasn’t me”. He tried to look contrite. “It wasn’t me,” he confessed. “It was my eyes. They are bold and easily led and have no sense of propriety.’


“You mustn’t disdain the protection of a frippery shag bag and a medium-sized duke with a tendency to stoutness. We can be formidable fellows when we try, you know.”




The Merridew Sisters series (click on the book covers for more details):

The Perfect Rake (The Merridew Sisters, #1) by Anne Gracie The Perfect Waltz (The Merridew Sisters, #2) by Anne Gracie The Perfect Stranger (The Merridew Sisters, #3) by Anne Gracie The Perfect Kiss (The Merridew Sisters, #4) by Anne Gracie

This review is also posted on my Rakes and Rascals Blog:

Profile Image for ᴥ Irena ᴥ.
1,649 reviews213 followers
November 14, 2015
At first I thought I would be annoyed by Prudence's sisters. One of them was so overwhelmed by the prospect of escaping their grandfather and marrying that in an instant she forgot what their oldest sister did for them. Fortunately, that sister didn't play any important role in the book so it was good. Since it seems the second book is about her, I am not in a hurry to read it. I need to forget or at least dull her presence here.

There is so much unexpected darkness in this book. Their grandfather is truly evil and horrible man. He hates women. He beats his granddaughters because his son left him when he fell in love with their mother. The book starts with them trying to save their youngest sister, a ten-year-old, from a severe beating. Only because she was trying to make something Egyptian-looking. Others get regular beatings for using their left hand or having red hair or whatever he thinks next. I was glad when they got away.

The fun part starts when the two protagonists meet for the first time. One of the reasons I enjoyed this was that the only secrets they have between them are those they just haven't thought of discussing (his family history and what happened when she was sixteen).

I loved Gideon from the first moment. He never acts a rake though. We are told he is one by others.
There is nothing pathetic or forceful in his relentless pursuit or what she sees as his play. The hilarious fact is he doesn't see her sisters as more beautiful than her. I was getting annoyed by the constant emphasis how the sisters are beautiful but poor Prudence is not. When their grandfather's brother says that Prudence needs to be married first because the others would ruin her chances, Gideon thinks there must be something very wrong with them.

To be honest I didn't expect to like this book this much. Two sisters get their happy ending in this book. I am not in a hurry to read about the third until I forget she was in this book. I did love the youngest. it was heart-breaking when Gideon thinks what could possibly scare a fearless ten-year-old Grace?
Profile Image for Amy.
2,578 reviews402 followers
June 7, 2019
The synopsis reminded me of Frederica so I gave into the lure. It ended up being surprisingly unique in its own right, at least for the first half. Like Frederica, Prudence possesses 4 younger siblings she desperately wants to give a chance to shine in society. Like Frederica, she convinces a rakish lord to assist in a deception. But unlike Frederica, Prudence's siblings are all girls.
Ravishingly lovely girls, whereas Prudence looks like a fishwife. (Not stated but implied.)
Anyway, she comes up with a sham betrothal because her great-uncle won't let her sisters enter society until Prudence gets engaged. But unfortunately, Prudence has a deadline. She needs to get one of her sisters married off in the next two weeks or else they will all be dragged back to the country...forever! (And also her grandfather in the country is an evil jerkface who will beat them all senseless if he gets his hands on them again. No pressure.)
The first quarter of this book truly surprised me. I loved the interactions between Prudence and Gideon. It is insta-love but of a hilarious nature. He takes one look at her and thinks her the most beautiful woman in the room. But...no one else does! So while he looks around jealously convinced that some man will snatch her up for her looks, everyone else is like...she looks like a pony.
It was quite funny.
Unfortunately, the book cannot resist the lure of the drama and so any innocent, funny moments get buried in the rakish lord pushing the innocent young maiden's boundaries past propriety.
And then, even more unfortunately, it ups the drama by making the villainous grandfather so completely villainous that you wonder why no one placed him in an insane asylum years ago. Throw in evil fiances, obvious miscommunication, and a sex scene just when you thought the book would avoid it...and by the end The Perfect Rake becomes nothing more than another generic, ahistorical romance novel too dependent on physical attraction to tell a decent story.
Profile Image for Sharon.
506 reviews259 followers
August 26, 2018
Solid. It got progressively better as it went on. I didn’t realize how sad and terrible the protagonist’s life was until certain things are revealed.

The family was sweet and amusing to read, but dang they can be frustrating considering how Prudence literally did all the work. I know she’s the oldest, but she definitely seemed to be doing everything while the others kinda didn’t do shit.

Gideon was sweet. I don’t have much to say here.

3 stars

Things that you might want to know (WARNING: Spoilers below)
Happy/satisfying ending?
Love triangle? Cheating? Angst level? Other things to note?
Favorite scenes?
What age level would be appropriate?
Profile Image for Lee at ReadWriteWish.
614 reviews79 followers
October 9, 2018
One advantage of being a member of a Goodreads group is that you’re encouraged to pick up books you would never have bothered with otherwise. I read The Perfect Rake as part of an October challenge.  I’d never heard of the book or the author. (The second part of this is surprising as Gracie is apparently Australian and usually I am at least aware of most published Australian writers.) Nor do I find the cover inspiring, so the odds of me reading it if flying solo were low.  Hence I have my Goodreads group to thank for any enjoyment I achieved!

It fell into the ‘fake engagement/fiance/husband’ category for the challenge. It’s a trope that just never gets old.

The book started slowly. Gracie showed some details of the life Prudence and her four sisters were leading under their grandfather's roof. I suppose these scenes were necessary to display his abusive nature and Prudence's later desperation but, at times, I found them a little strange. Thankfully the tone changed considerably once the hero, Gideon, was introduced.

Prudence had managed to come up with a plan to flee their grandfather but it fell apart a little until she invented a fake finance. In a very funny meet cute, Gideon decides to play the role, and he does so admirably.

His and Prudence’s banter is golden, and their instant attraction and chemistry is quite believable. (I liked the running joke of Gideon not noticing the beauty of the other sisters.) If the book continued like this throughout, I would have rated it 5 out of 5.

The tone changed again, however, around the halfway mark. Gracie brought in a lot more darkness to the book and I obviously preferred the earlier lighthearted tone/banter scenes. She also introduced a couple more conflicts into the plot. I thought there was already enough conflict and it really didn’t work for me.

Another gripe was the corny 70s territory Gracie crossed into now and then with Gideon’s past lovelife/reputation as a rake. (It was the usual, he only bedded women who knew the score and wanted a frivolous bit of sex without the seriousness of a relationship and no one ever got hurt and blah blah blah. Ack.)

I also think she fell into some sort of trap when she included the sex scene. Yes, I usually crave a sex scene, especially ones which are written well (this one was) but I didn’t think it fit into the timeline of the book quite right. (Yes, perhaps that's the problem. I didn't mind the idea of a sex scene but it was to me ill timed and therefore, superfluous.)

There were a few bright moments in the second half of the book. Most of the jokes surrounding the character of Phillip, for example, were a hoot.

Overall too, I really enjoyed Gracie’s writing. I often notice inconsistencies when it comes to the historical aspect of these types of books, but I couldn’t find fault with Gracie’s word choices. She seems to have done quite a bit of research, in fact.

And I think I will probably give the other books in the series a go.

I’m teetering between a 3 ½ and a 4 out of 5 for this, the first of the series. Actually 3 and 3/4 sounds ridiculous but somehow almost perfect in my mind! LOL 
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