Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Mayfield Family #3

Rakes and Roses

Rate this book
A Mayfield Family Romance

Lady Sabrina endured an abusive marriage, a miscarriage, and early widowhood to emerge as a smart, successful, confident woman who found a way to make her mark in a man’s world. She has friends and purpose, but cannot hide from the emptiness she feels when the parties are over and the friends have gone home to families she will never have.

Harry Stillman may be charming and handsome, but he’s a gambler and a rake who has made a mockery of his privileges. He turns to the mysterious Lord Damion for financial relief from his debts, but still ends up beaten nearly senseless by thugs and left in an ally.

When Lady Sabrina comes upon Harry after the attack, she remembers the kindness Harry once showed to her six years ago and brings him to her estate to heal. Though their relationship begins on rocky footing, it soon mellows into friendship, then trust. But Lady Sabrina needs to keep Harry at a distance, even if he is becoming the kind of man worthy of her heart. After all, she is keeping a secret that, if exposed, could destroy everything she’s so carefully built.

320 pages, Paperback

First published May 5, 2020

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Josi S. Kilpack

67 books1,887 followers
I wrote my first book while on bed rest with my third child in 1998 and haven't stopped. My most recent books have been Historical Romance through the Proper Romance line with Shadow Mountain Publishing.

I currently live in Willard, Utah with my husband, and children.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
508 (27%)
4 stars
795 (42%)
3 stars
463 (24%)
2 stars
81 (4%)
1 star
8 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 402 reviews
Profile Image for Lucinda.
Author 22 books1,308 followers
December 27, 2019
Of all the three books in this series, this is my favorite so far.

At the beginning of the story, we find Harry deep in gambling and drink. After he loses his winnings, he's desperate to get a chance to win some more. He owes a great deal of money to a ruthless lender.
When his friend tells him of a different kind of lender, Lord Damion, Harry's not so sure. But, out of options, he realizes it's his only chance.

Lord Damion is not a man. It's Lady Sabrina, whom we meet in the prologue. She has a terrible husband and is afraid of him but, when he dies suddenly, she becomes a free woman of large means.

When Sabrina takes on Harry's debts, she doesn't plan to have any kind of interaction with him, but that all changes when she finds him in an alley after being severely beaten. She takes him in to care of him and this is when their interactions begin.

Harry is at his lowest ever and things only get worse when Sabrina's housekeeper starts weaning him from alcohol.

The dynamic between Harry and Sabrina is all backwards for the typical historical novel of this time period: she's older than him (by five years) and she's got the money, not to mention he's lodged i her home and dependent on her for his care. Their relationship is wildly unbalanced and hard to believe it'll come to a point when it's not so.

This is a story of redemption above all else. Sabrina's growth has already happened, even though she does go through a transformation as well. But it's Harry who turns his life around completely. Through the kindness of Sabrina and her staff, he changes himself and comes to realize he doesn't want to be the alcoholic gambler he's been for so long.

With this setup, the relationship between them moved slowly, as it should be, and the ending was perfect.

One more thing: as pretty as the cover is, it doesn't go with the others in the series. I don't understand the reason for this.

I received a copy from the publisher via NetGalley and this is my honest opinion.
Profile Image for Julie Carpenter.
1,388 reviews162 followers
May 7, 2020
Two characters, both trying to break free from the past and searching for redemption for themselves and others. Full of raw vulnerability, sorrow, heartache, loneliness, loss, self-awareness, friendship, family (sometimes not biological), healing, failing, mistakes, forgiveness, acceptance, self love, understanding, love and redemption.

I have been reading this series from the publication of the first book. And since then Harry Stillman is one character I have been most anxious to read about. With questions of why and what brought him to become the rake that he is. And questions of what sort of redemption will he find, if any, since he has spurned any chance at it thus far. Sometimes though, a person has to reach the absolute bottom before they can see there is hope. They have to find the ability to trust, not only someone who could redeem them, but most importantly, themselves.

Oh, this book! It was wonderful! There are definitely some harder topics and issues that Lady
Sabrina and Harry have faced and will face but the way the author addressed them was well done. I appreciated how the characters had their struggles and watching how they handled them. Lady Sabrina was all grace and dignity. Harry was prideful and believing that he could fix everything on his own.

Their initial meeting is several years before the main story takes place. But it is a meeting that made an impact upon both characters. It was a turning point in both of their lives.

I really don't want to spoil anything for you as this story is one best read and allowed to develop and unfolded as the author has written it. The romance and love story is a slow growing one but perfect for these two scarred and broken characters. The slow coming to know and understand themselves as well as the other wove together their story perfectly.

Lady Sabrina's staff and servants were some of my favorite characters as well. I hope when you read the book, you'll take note of them and come to enjoy them as much as I did. Every book needs great main characters but I always feel that the secondary characters can be just as important at creating and developing the story. And that is very true in this book!

There were many quotes that I enjoyed throughout the book and wish I could share with you but I'll share two that I liked from Harry with you...

"Harry did not need to think about if he had ever been happy. He'd always felt the need to do something, go somewhere, get away, feel this pleasure, best this man, prevail in this situation or that one. Perhaps you could not be happy if you only ever wanted something different than what you had. Perhaps being happy with what you had was the first step."

"It was perhaps the first time he understood that sacrifice was giving up something good and immediate for something better and longterm."

I loved this book and the theme, the friendship and sweet love story within. If you're a Josi Kilpack fan, then you're in for a treat! If you haven't yet had the pleasure I highly recommend you pick on of her books and enjoy!

Content: Clean. This book is under the proper romance line and is clean but there are some topics that might be a little harder for some readers. They are not graphic and gone into a lot of detail but they are part of these characters' lives. I feel that the author did a great job writing them into this story. There is talk of physical abuse, loss of a child, gambling, drinking, a character coming clean from alcoholism, some mention of a character having affairs but not in detail.

I received a copy from the author. All thoughts and opinions in the review are my own.

Happy Reading!!!
Profile Image for Yara.
98 reviews11 followers
May 14, 2020
Rakes and Roses is the third book in the Mayfield Family series by Josi S. Kilpack.

This book, like the previous books, is part of the proper romance genre - which means it's clean when it comes to sexual content. Additionally, these novels might have Christian content thought they vary wildly as to how overt the Christian content might be - sometimes, you might not even notice it.

Having read the first two books in this series and enjoyed them very much, I was looking forward to this book. Unfortunately, this book was not a good addition to this series. There was no chemistry between the two main characters which means romance was absent in a romantic novel.

Additionally, unlike on the previous two books the Christian messaging was obvious and unmistakable. For those who are not religious it might be uncomfortable.

The Highlights

For a proper romance, I thought the premise of the story was intriguing and a change from the typical plots we see in this genre. You get a lot of "House Parties" in this genre for some reason.

The story follows Harold "Harry" Stillman, a degenerate gambler and drunk who hits rock bottom and Lady Sabrina, the bastard daughter of a duke. She survived an abusive marriage and now dedicates herself to helping others.

Lady Sabrina has a savior complex and has decided to focus this on saving young men who find themselves down on their luck because of their poor life choices. Posing as the moneylender, Lord Damion, Sabrina seeks to help young men by getting them out of the financial trouble, and as payment, they must mend their ways and leave their vices behind, or else they lose everything they have. Interesting, right? And it was for the first quarter of the book. It depicted this storyline in a very tame and clean way, but it had potential.

I will give credit for writing a somewhat credible, if not supremely sanitized, depiction of having to go through withdrawals from alcohol abuse. At least the author made an attempt at creating a realistic scenario.

The Lowlights

So while the premise of this book was intriguing and different from the usual fare, it's execution wasn't as strong as it needed to be to carry this story to the depths it had the possibility of achieving. It ended up feeling a bit shallow, early on in the story we see how low Harry's vices have brought him and we see him battling his alcoholism, and yet it still felt very superficial. Sabrina's past with a violent marriage also felt unexplored and frankly, it felt like a device to give her vulnerability rather than being part of her character growth.

Additionally, unlike the two previous books, the Christian message in this story was loud and clear. Harry basically had to "find Jesus" to help him battle his vices and addictions. They were even bible verses included. Now, I'm not religious, but I'm not opposed to having religious content as part of the story if it's done in an organic way and not just be a just a tool.

For example, before Harry seeks the help of Lord Damien and feels like the world is caving in on him, why not have him try to pray as a last resort, asking God for his help even though he doesn't deserve it. Then, when he gets help in the form of Lord Damien, he can reconnect with God because he believes that God sent him Lord Damien to him as he had prayed for when he was down on his luck.

What we got, however, felt to me like it was included because it was a requirement. It felt preachy, which I really disliked. I don't want to read proselytizing in my romance novels.

The chemistry between the two characters was non-existing. I'm not exaggerating, I felt nothing for them as a couple, and I kept on waiting for the romance to start, but it never did. Sabrina feels an attraction to Harry almost from the beginning, but it's not a very strong attraction, and Harry doesn't start seeing Sabrina as a love interest until 2/3 of the way through the book. No romantic tension, no chemistry, no real build-up.

Finally, it's a small annoyance, but I wish they had not changed the style of the covers. I liked the cover art style of the first two books; it was unique. This cover looks like every other proper romance cover out there.


This book was a huge disappointment for me, I've been waiting since last year for the continuation of this series, and it was sadly a letdown. I don’t think I'll continue reading this series. For those who like proper romances I recommend the first two books, but don't go any further.

The second book “Daisies and Desire” is my favorite of the first two books.

Audible Note

Justine Eyre narrated the audiobook. I've listened to many books narrated by JE, and I like the way she narrates and her ability to create distinctive voices for each character.
Profile Image for Heidi Robbins (Heidi Reads...).
1,499 reviews439 followers
May 20, 2020
Rakes and rogues are not my favorite type of hero in the Regency genre, but this author did a wonderful job of exploring the redemption of a young man from a life of dissolution. The lifetime of choices Harry made in response to his harsh upbringing and negative experiences eventually brought him to rock bottom, where he was more than desperate to escape his debts and dangerous lenders. The second chance he receives might have been wasted, but Lady Sabrina rescues him in more ways than one. The transformation of Harry was the most fascinating part of the book for me, and even though I wasn't really feeling the romantic chemistry, I loved his friendship with Sabrina and her housekeeper Therese. I think because Harry was in such an early state of transformation, it was hard for me to trust him and his feelings of attraction. Maybe a longer timeline on the latter side of his sobriety would have helped me, but I think the pacing of the plot was right with respect to the intrigue of Sabrina's secret and Lord Damion's involvement. I thought the ending was done rather well and appreciated how Harry's character came full circle. This is the third book in the series but can easily be read on its own or out of order.

(I received a complimentary copy of the book; all opinions in this review are my own)
Profile Image for Merry .
577 reviews54 followers
May 24, 2021
I enjoyed the book as it was about a rake who hits bottom. Harry is an alcoholic and a gambling addict. The main character is Lady Sabrina who is 5 years older and has endured a brutal marriage. The book is about the saving and giving new starts to men who are ready to admit they need help. Since its a novel it does seem to be a bit easier than real life might be. This is the 3rd in the series and worked well as a stand alone.
Profile Image for Lu.
746 reviews25 followers
May 12, 2020
In a time when gender roles were very strict, a businesswoman and a man who enjoyed knitting found their way to each other.

Rakes and Roses is the third book in the Mayfield Family Series but can be read as a standalone. It is a clean, romantic and uplifting historical romance set in England, in the early 1800s.

This is my first book by this author, and I enjoyed her rich and articulated writing style.

Lady Sabrina, an affluent widow, knew Mr. Harry Stilman from a brief encounter they had several years before. She would have forgotten him but for the fact that he was kind when she needed it most.

Suddenly, their situations were reversed. Harry was wounded and left to die in the gutter, and Sabrina was his only chance of surviving.

While the romance builds, the author explores complex themes like domestic abuse, alcohol addiction, gambling, loss, and the role of women in society.

All is done positively, focusing on the ability to overcome traumas and redeem vices with dedication and a little help of faith and friends.

Harry was a rake, but more by circumstance than disposition. He was sweet, loyal, and determined once he chose his path. Sabrina was kind and strong but had built a thick wall around her heart after her terrible first marriage.

Despite being a clean romance, the author managed to convey the deep connection and sensual tension between the couple.

There are some adorable side characters, in special the housekeeper Therese and Sabrina's loyal solicitor, Mr. Gordon. I thought they would make a lovely couple themselves.

If you like an uplifting story with a sweet yet flawed hero and a strong and independent heroine, this book is for you.

Disclosure: I received an ARC of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review


Profile Image for Katie (Hiding in the Pages).
2,921 reviews219 followers
May 5, 2020
Unique and refreshing Regency

I can always count on Josi Kilpack to deliver a sweet Regency story that steps outside of the typical formula. In this offering, she tackles a rakish gambling drunk who finds himself well below rock bottom. Fortunately for him, he had a very brief encounter with Lady Sabrina in the past and she can't forget the kindness shown her and is ready to return the favor.

I found a deep level of pride for Sabrina and her stalwart character and integrity, which caused me to feel a realistic camaraderie with her. Harry is the type of guy who is easy to hate, but knowing the background to his demise made me feel sympathetic towards him and it was more than easy to root for the best outcome possible for these characters.

I loved the way this author crafts this story, bringing this family to life in a way that makes me feel like an honorary family member. I love the gentleness and sweetness, along with the authentic historical feel. This isn't your typical Regency and I appreciated the breath of fresh air so much!

Content: very mild romance; mild moments of drinking, gambling, violence

*I received a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are my own and were voluntarily given.*
Profile Image for Aimee (Getting Your Read On).
2,967 reviews243 followers
May 21, 2020
Do you want to know what I loved best about this book? It felt different than other regency books. The premise was unique and Lady Sabrina's life felt different but still believable within the genre. I loved her independence and her desire to make a difference in the lives of others. Her confidence and smarts had me singing a girl's anthem in my head. But then, her vulnerabilities would shine through and remind me how very human she was. I really loved Lady Sabrina.

I thought the author did a good job with Harry. How do you take a legitimate rake and scoundrel and reform him in a way that's believable on both ends of a spectrum? And in a way that I would end up liking him? That's tricky, right? Like I said, good job to the author there. I think the relationship between Lady Sabrina and Harry progressed naturally and felt legitimate for the most part.

This story is steady but it is a bit slow. There are no great fireworks, although the end has a little one, and the build up is gentle but I did enjoy it. This book is part of a series but stands alone easily.

Content: mild violence, kissing

- I received a complimentary copy of this book. All opinions expressed are my own.
Profile Image for Lisa  (Bookworm Lisa).
2,195 reviews171 followers
April 19, 2020
***4.5 stars***

I love the premise of this series. A wealthy elderly uncle, who never married and is without an heir, decides to bestow an inheritance to his family on the condition that they marry. He doesn't want them to live as he did. Alone.

This story is about Harry. He has many vices. He's a rake, and alcoholic, and a gambler. He is indebted to a very horrible man and his uncle has cut him off. He has no way to fulfill his obligations until Lord Damion finds worth in him and loans him the money on condition that he reform his life and repay the debt.

I loved the characters in the book. Harry seems at first to be unredeemable until he discovers his own worth and decides to be a better person. His personality is fun and he is full of mischief. I enjoyed the teasing between him and Sabrina. He pulls her out of her lonely life and helps her rediscover happiness. She has also lived a difficult life and seeks to see her worth as a person and friend.

Rakes and Roses was a fun book to read. I look forward to any book that comes out by Josi Kilpack. I hope that there is another Mayfield book to look forward to.

Source: I received a complimentary copy of the book. All thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

Profile Image for Bethany (Beautifully Bookish Bethany).
2,046 reviews3,449 followers
May 11, 2020
Having been a teen reader of conservative & Christian romances, I really wish that this was the kind of thing being published back then. Rakes and Roses is a slow-burn, historical romance that keeps things pretty PG, but features a strong and capable heroine, a hero hitting rock bottom before changing his life, small references to faith that never get preachy, and an ending that I found to be truly romantic. I wasn't sure quite what to expect, but despite a couple small bumps, this was a very pleasant surprise. It flips traditional gender dynamics in a way that I found immensely satisfying and allowed for a beautiful romance to blossom. For readers who enjoy character-driven romance with plenty of plot, this is one worth trying.

Lady Sabrina is a widow who survived an abusive marriage and devastating miscarriage. She is lucky enough to now have independence and her intelligence has allowed her to be very successful in business, but recognizing her privilege she works to give back to those who are oppressed by societal structures.

Harry Stillman is handsome and charming, but has fallen into a dark hole of alcoholism and gambling debts to dangerous men. A mysterious nobleman offers him a way out, but a brutal beating from a loan shark leaves him incapacitated. Sabrina finds him and brings him to her country estate to be cared for and heal, not only from his physical injuries, but from his addiction as well.

I loved the way this story developed. We see the reality of Harry being forced to dry out from alcohol and the ups and downs of his journey toward healing. Sabrina is fierce and loudly stands up for what is right. I loved her as a heroine. The actual romance doesn't start developing until about halfway into the book, so it might be a little quick for some. However, it ended up working for me and I was swooning at some of the dialogue where Harry wants Sabrina for who she is, as a friend and partner. It was sweet and lovely with Sabrina holding the power in terms of wealth, experience, and even age as she is five years older. This undermines traditional gender roles in best possible way, even to the extent of Harry taking up knitting which is super adorable. They also do a good job of making Harry prove that he has truly changed over several months. Overall, this was a great read.

One thing I didn't love is early in the book there are a couple of places where characters mock "foppish" men who are more effeminate in dress and behavior. While it perhaps wasn't intended this way, these lines read as homophobic or transphobic and probably should have been removed in editing. However, this is a very small part of the overall plot and I don't have a problem recommending it to those who would be interested. I received a copy of this book for review from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

CW for domestic violence, miscarriage due to domestic violence, depictions of anxiety and PTSD, alcoholism, addiction, gambling, physical violence, mildly homophobic/transphobic jokes.
Profile Image for Samantha Martin.
64 reviews4 followers
March 4, 2020
I struggled through this one. I found myself not really liking Harry. He whines and literally cries a lot in the beginning. Sabrina overcame an abusive marriage but I don’t feel like the author really explored the emotional side of that much. This book felt really long but felt like it lacked depth all at the same time. I did receive a free copy to review this book, so this is my honest opinion.
Profile Image for Becky (romantic_pursuing_feels).
731 reviews492 followers
February 18, 2023
Overall: ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Plot/Storyline: 📖📖📖📖
Feels: 🦋🦋
Emotional Depth: 💔💔💔💔
Sexual Tension: ⚡⚡
Romance: 💞💞
Sensuality: 💋
Sex Scene Length: only kisses
Steam Scale (Number of Sex Scenes): only kisses
Humor: Just a touch
Perspective: Third person from both the hero and heroine

(These are all personal preference on a scale of 1-5 (yours ratings may vary depending what gives you feels and how you prefer you sex scenes written, etc) except the Steam Scale which follows our chart from The Ton and Tartans Book Club )

Should I read in order?
This is the third book of Kilpack’s Mayfield Family series but I found it fine as a standalone.

Basic plot:
Sabrina comes across Harry after he’s been attacked by immoral money lenders and nurses him back to health.

Give this a try if you want:
- Both characters have a bit of anxiety
- Independent heroine – she inherited much upon her husband’s death and uses it for good within society
- Emotionally strong hero (hero cries)
- Chess!
- This is a Christian no sex romance – there are scenes of Bible reading and prayer
- Heroine nurses hero back to health
- Light touch of second chance – the hero has an empathetic encounter with the heroine 6 years prior (he’s going off with another woman and the heroine is married here so it wasn’t anything sexual)

My thoughts:
This one really isn’t my thing – I’m not looking for Christian romance – and I didn’t realize that it was when I picked it up. Generally I liked the writing quite a bit. But overall the themes of ‘vices’ needing to be overcome, the amount of warm milk drank, and the praying and Bible reading made this one not something I seek out in romance.

I am still a bit confused about everyone calling the heroine a lady, even though she’s a bastard. It seemed a bit far stretched how it was just accepted. I did like both main characters quite a bit though. And I loved that in this one the heroine was in a place of security after what she’d been through and was in a position to help the hero. I think those looking for a low steam read about healing could really love this novel.

Content warnings:

Locations of kisses/intimate scenes:
Profile Image for Connie.
340 reviews16 followers
April 23, 2020
This novel is absolutely fantastic! The characters are so well done. The author does an amazing job of showing what a pathetic loser Harry starts out as with all his heartbreaking addictions. The process of watching him overcome is so inspiring. And I love how Sabrina helps him with just the right ratio of tough love and compassion. Their conversation about changing and becoming better is worth 5 stars to me all by itself.

The pacing is brilliant. I was a little worried how this wonderfully capable woman was going to fall in love with someone so pathetic, especially after having to watch him at his absolute worst. But I found it believable and sweet and felt like they complemented each other well.
Profile Image for Tamara.
661 reviews12 followers
April 2, 2020
Rakes and Roses is the third book in the Mayfield Family book series, and it opens up six years earlier when Lady Sabrina is the recipient of Harry’s kindness when she needs it. At the time, Lady Sabrina is married to a man, Richard whose anger gets the best of him, and she is concerned about the unborn child she bears, and it is then that Harry comes upon her and offers to help her in any way he can.
Fast forward six years later, Sabrina’s husband Richard is dead, she has miscarried their child, but she has the respect and honor that she didn’t have being an illegitimate daughter of nobility. She has worked very hard to earn the respect that she wasn’t given to her by her father or husband.
Harry Stillman is a handsome and charming young man, but his enormous debt has finally caught up with him. Malcolm is after that money that Harry owes him. He is finally at his bottom, he’s tried asking his Uncle Elliot, but his uncle won’t help him anymore.
Sabrina has created a wonderful life for herself using the wealth of her husband, she is well looked upon by society. Nathan her half-brother who treats her with love and respect has afforded her an ability to act as his hostess until he marries. This has allowed her to become the woman that she always wanted to be and she tells herself that she doesn’t need another man to be happy. But truth be told she isn’t happy, she won’t allow herself to feel the loneliness or the emptiness that she feels
In the beginning, I wasn’t sure if I Iiked either Sabrina or Harry.

Sabrina seemed closed off to me, and Harry was only concerned about more money, gambling and women. He was selfish in his needs. He finally reached out to Lord Damion who is known as a lender to those in dire straits for men like himself. Circumstances bring Harry to Rose Haven, Sabrina’s home outside of London where he is tended to by Theresa her housekeeper, who has knowledge of healing arts that Harry is in great need of. It is during this time that Sabrina reveals more of herself as does Harry through their chess games together. It during this time that they learn they are able to be themselves with each other.
I enjoyed Rakes and Roses. As I got to know Harry he showed a side of him that had me hoping that Sabrina would accept him, despite his younger age and that he wouldn’t reject Sabrina like the men before him had in the past.
My gratitude to NetGalley and Shadow Mountain for a copy of this ARC. Opinions expressed are my own.
Profile Image for eyes.2c.
2,434 reviews50 followers
February 2, 2021
Interesting concept just didn't work for me. The reformed gambling addict, the layabout, rescued by a wealthy society widow. Lady Sabrina Carlisle who remembers Harry Stillman gratefully (to be sure, that was one of my fav moments) and decides to assist him. Then she breaks her own rules! Mmm! I couldn't quite reconcile this decision. But still that moved the plot forward and she couldn't leave Harry injured in the gutter.
Thus we have the poor little rich boy who sells his soul (and that of his tenants) on the turn of a card, redeemed! The lovely widow with hurtful secrets acting against her head.
The outcome is predictable, love strikes and Harry is shot of his devils.

A Shadow Mountain ARC via NetGalley
Profile Image for Niki (mustreadalltheromance).
1,147 reviews85 followers
June 23, 2021
2.5 stars rounded up.

After an abusive marriage, devastating miscarriage, and early widowhood, Lady Sabrina has emerged a savvy businesswoman determined to make changes in a male-dominated world. She has many friends and a key role in helping her titled brother navigate society, but she still finds herself feeling increasingly lonely.

Harry Stillman has more charm than is good for him and has fallen into bad habits with drink and gambling that have left him in a hole he can’t dig himself out of. With debts he can’t possibly repay, he turns to the mysterious lender Lord Damien for help paying off his creditors, but the meeting still sees him beaten and left insensate on the street by toughs in the employ of the loan shark he’s indebted to.

When Sabrina finds the nearly unconscious Harry, she can’t leave him there and takes him to her estate outside London to recover. Their turbulent relationship gives way to friendship eventually as Harry heals, but Sabrina is determined to keep him at arm’s length even as he tries to become a man worthy of her. But she must protect her heart and her secrets at all costs lest they destroy her.

I must say, I didn’t know what the term ‘proper romance’ meant when I first requested this title, I was merely intrigued by the premise. Had I known, I certainly wouldn’t have requested it since I prefer steamier love stories. That said, the lack of steam wasn’t actually the problem here. I don’t much care for proselytizing to this level in my romance novels, but as a Christian myself, I wasn’t bothered by the mentions of God’s grace, etc.; I actually liked that just fine. The problem here for me was the characters, especially Sabrina. Harry wasn’t terrible, just weak, and though he showed good growth, I never found much strength or masculinity to support his place as hero of the story. Sabrina, though, was a bit of a piece of work. She definitely had a good heart and tried to help dissolute young men on the wrong path, but from such a pedestal of self-righteousness it made her unlikable. The trauma of her previous marriage should’ve made her sympathetic and someone you’d want to root for but that somehow wasn’t the case for me. Sabrina was a snob, holding her high society position as a recognized, though illegitimate, daughter of a duke over Harry’s head while using an honorific she knew she wasn’t actually entitled to and ignoring the fact that he also had ties to the aristocracy. Her need to micromanage and control everything, along with her man-hating, arrogance, and judgmental tendencies, sealed my dislike of her as well. The relationship between Sabrina and Harry wasn’t believable in a romantic sense either. She saw him as a beautiful object of desire, especially once she’d molded him into what she wanted, and I think he was mostly just grateful to her for saving him. I didn’t much care for either of them so I think they deserved each other, but I can’t say it was a satisfying romance for me. This premise had good potential with the secrets and implied intrigue, but the pace was too slow, the finale a bit anticlimactic, and the romance rather tepid.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Becky.
752 reviews37 followers
May 19, 2020
Rakes and Roses is different from the other Proper Romances I've read in that it's less a romance than a redemption story. There's nothing wrong with that; it just wasn't quite what I expected. Still, I enjoyed the story so much that I didn't really mind the understated romance (mostly ...).

Sabrina was such an intriguing character. I loved the way she used her wealth to help others. Though I normally don't like rakes, I did enjoy Harry's transformation. I also loved his uncle Elliott, whose story is told in the first book in the series. (Each novel stands alone; I haven't read the others, but now I want to!)

While I very much enjoyed the story, the romance was just slightly lacking for me. I understood that Harry and Sabrina were falling for each other, but I didn't feel it. However, I did appreciate the way their story resolved, avoiding petty misunderstandings; instead, they talked about things like real adults!

Overall, I really enjoyed reading Rakes and Roses. While it's my first Josi Kilpack novel, it won't be my last.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review, and the opinions expressed are my own.
Profile Image for Amy.
679 reviews38 followers
January 20, 2020
I have been looking forward to the next in this series for a year, and was incredibly disappointed to see the change in cover design. Fans like to have their covers stay in sync, but I do understand the reasons behind the decision to discard the style.

An interesting approach to both the main characters, leave us with a unique storyline and plot - that I have not come across before in this genre.

Sadly, I had difficulty connecting to the story and it wasn’t until 80% in that the pace picked up. That’s a big chunk of book to get a reader through.

Ultimately it came together really well, and I enjoyed the resolution which was neither predictable or trite.

Thanks to Netgalley for the eARC. This is my honest review.
Profile Image for Rachelle.
Author 44 books766 followers
April 22, 2020
Josi Kilpack has created a wonderful family during the regency period that I just can’t get enough of so I was happy to find another story in the Mayfield Family Romance series.
This novel deals with a main character who is a survivor of an abusive marriage and the reader will love seeing how strong and smart she has become despite her trials. Lady Sabrina defies many of the social customs to help others and change her own life.

Harry Stillman is a rake, but he’s quite a charming rake. I loved reading his story of change and looking into his heart. The courtship in this story is unconventional and unexpected and I loved it!
You won’t want to miss this Proper Romance and I definitely can’t wait to read another Mayfield Family Romance!
Profile Image for Anna.
615 reviews29 followers
April 21, 2022
Very different premise in this book - a woman becomes independently wealthy following the death of her (abusive) husband and a miscarriage. She prizes her independence and her escape from the difficulties of a bad marriage, and chooses to use her wealth in an interesting way.

When she comes upon a badly beaten man in an alley, she recognizes him as a person who had done her a kindness many years ago, and consents to shelter him while he heals. Unfortunately, in the intervening years, he has become addicted to alcohol and gambling and loose women. Will he grasp his second chance? Or continue to waste his life and his fortune?
Profile Image for Megan  (messybun.bookishfun).
273 reviews23 followers
February 26, 2022
I really enjoyed this book. It showed how the kindness and determination of one periwinkle really can change others lives for the better. It also shows how challenging the road from detoxification can be (in this case, alcohol). And I also just really loved Harry and how he was such a flirt.
Profile Image for Debby *BabyDee*.
1,172 reviews61 followers
December 25, 2019
This is a first time read by author Josi S. Kilpack. Rakes and Roses started off a bit slow in the beginning but picked up tempo further along in the book. As this is an ARC, I thought the plot and written intent was well done. I thought the main characters Sabrina and Harry have had their fair share of disappointments and truely strived to make good of the mishaps that have come their way.

When Harry is injured and ends up in his benefactor's house to heal, made for an interesting coup of how Sabrina would try to work around not leading him to believe that she is his true saviour. Each on opposites ends of attraction, I loved how they came together to find true love in a Society that shuns illegitimates and financially ruined rakes. I also loved Sabrina's independent spirit and standing on her own as a business woman.

A delightful story that ends in a very nice HEA.

Thank you to the author and Shadow Mountain Publishing for this ARC and my fair and honest review. All opinions in the review are my own.

Profile Image for  The Flipped Page (Susan K).
1,383 reviews31 followers
April 7, 2020
Romance, clean; Period; series, but stand alone read
I think this is my favorite of all of this series. I know some readers may fault Harry's strength as a character, but I loved it! I loved how he was brought to his knees, how Lord Damion plays a part, and Lady Sabrina. Loved all the staff, the mystery surrounding Lord Damion and Harry's creditors.
Saving Harry, Harry's recovery, and his rebirth as a new 'man', able to overcome his weaknesses, the person responsible for betraying him, so many twists and turns, but Lady Sabrina's tough love, kind care, and her growing feelings for this reborn man who softens her heart towards gentleman again (does she need a man?) as he values her for her and for herself, without guile, repairing her hurt heart and helping her 'live' again without fear, reprisals, and with hope for a future that isn't alone was a lovely read.
I received a copy from the publisher via NetGalley for a fair and honest review. My opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Toni Shiloh.
Author 51 books1,096 followers
April 28, 2020
I’ve enjoyed each of the Mayfield Family books and Rakes and Roses was no exception.

Since book 1, I’ve wondered about the story of Harry Stillman. I wondered what kind of life he was living and when the story starts, we get a glimpse of a kind man in the prologue. However, when chapter one starts, we see how far Harry has fallen.

But I so love a redeemable character and Harry definitely is one. Add in Lady Sabrina’s past and her current endeavors and you have a page turner folks.

I thoroughly enjoyed this tale and I eagerly await the next book Ms. Kilpack writes. Another Proper Romance for the shelf.

*I received a complimentary copy from the publisher via NetGalley. My review was not required nor influenced.
Profile Image for Stacey.
139 reviews4 followers
January 5, 2020
Review excerpted from by blog post over at FanSciHist (https://fanscihist.wordpress.com/2020...)

My Rating: 3.5 stars

Library recommendation: Recommended for public library historical romance collections.

Warning: Hereafter, you chance spoilers. I will try never to reveal major plot points, but to review any book, you must reveal some parts of the story.


Number of titles I have read by this author: 1

Love story speed: Slow burn

Relationship dynamics: The Wastrel Rake (H) / The Charitable Widow (h)

Sexual content: None. Kissing only.

Triggers: Spousal abuse (of h, not by H); recounted late miscarriage (h); severe gambling addiction (H); alcohol dependence (H); physical brutality (not by H or h); descriptions of drying out and the DTs.

Grammar/Editing: My ARC had a lot of formatting issues (run together paragraphs, etc.), some word choice issues, verb tense issues, etc. The family pedigree at the beginning of the book is particularly affected by formatting issues.

Review: This quick-paced novel is set in the late Georgian period, which is not explicitly stated, but inferred from the family pedigree and from details given throughout the book. The first half of this book is essentially a quasi-idealized description of an abbreviated (and uncompromising) twelve-step program, which I am not certain will be for everyone. The book also feels like an historical inspirational novel, given how much focus is put on Christian faith and ideals, although the book is not billed as such.

Sabrina and Harry are the main characters of this book. Sabrina is a widow whose husband was extremely abusive, which makes her shy away from the thought of a second marriage. Harry is the epitome of the Georgian wastrel – he is also an alcoholic and gambling addict. She is his saviour. Their relationship begins as she tries to pull him out of the mess he has found himself in, including helping him to dry out, which leads to him thinking that she is an old dragon and her to believe that he is irredeemable. However, they eventually find that they enjoy each other’s company. Readers should not expect a grande passion in this novel. Rather, the characters seem to feel more regard and general attraction to one another. In terms of the supporting characters, some are very much written in a way that suggests that the reader should know more about them, which leads me to believe that they are featured in the previous books in the series. New characters, including the villain, are developed as far as necessary, but not further. This doesn’t stop the villain from feeling menacing when present, although he is easily forgotten when he’s not at the forefront of the main characters’ minds, which detracted from his effectiveness.

Addictions PSA version: Addictions are a significant problem for a lot of people throughout the world. If you, or someone you know, suffer(s) from an addiction and need(s) help, please consider reaching out to an addictions hotline, such as those listed at The Lifeline Canada Foundation’s website.

Full disclosure: I received a free advance review copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Caitlyn Lynch.
Author 43 books1,825 followers
May 21, 2020
Although this is a sweet inspirational romance, I’m not sure it’s suitable for the younger reader, as there are some fairly heavy themes in here too, including (past) spousal abuse and (on-page) recovery from addiction, to both gambling and alcohol, with withdrawal sickness thoroughly detailed. Please be aware of these possible triggers if you choose to read.

With an ugly marriage in her past, Lady Sabrina masquerades as Lord Damian, who offers a conditional salvation to young men of the Ton who’ve fallen too far. Harry is one such; he’s gambled and drunk his way to the depths of London’s underbelly and is now utterly desperate, in hiding from one of the capital’s more ruthless moneylenders. Lord Damian’s offer is a lifeline he dimly recognises he doesn’t deserve, but before he can take it up, he’s caught and beaten to within an inch of his life.

Rescued by Lady Sabrina, he’s nursed back to health in her household. There’s an age gap of five years between them (she is the elder) and he quickly finds himself looking up to her as a model citizen, the kind of person he wants to be. But not before going through the absolute misery of withdrawal from severe alcohol addiction, while trapped in bed with a broken leg.

There’s one thing that really struck me as strange about the premise of this story from the beginning, and that is; why would a formerly abused wife, now an independently wealthy widow in charge of her own finances and her destiny, direct her charitable efforts towards men? Men who have got into trouble that’s entirely their own fault, wasting every opportunity they’ve been given and generally behaving horribly? Why wouldn’t she want to help women, battered wives and children, orphans, the poor, war veterans, and any number of people who are infinitely more deserving of charity? It honestly made no logical sense to me. She left her maid’s mother in a workhouse when the woman was dying! I honestly hated Sabrina a little bit when I realised that. For the amount she used to pay off Harry’s debts, she could have helped dozens, maybe hundreds, to find a better life. Considering her background, her choice of who to help made absolutely no sense. Maybe if she’d had a brother sucked in and victimised I might have bought into it, but she was the illegitimate daughter of a nobleman. Helping former mistresses and other by-blows would have made much more sense.

Sabrina is automatically a sympathetic figure because we first meet her at a low point, but honestly, as the story went on I found myself liking her less and less. She was self-righteous and judgemental, not to mention extremely elitist in who she chose to aid. And Harry, after making a brief appearance as a sweet young man early on, then shows as a self-centred, spoiled pig. He at least manages to improve once he sobers up, but it’s basically because he’s been ‘scared straight’. He still spends plenty of time trying to figure out how to carry on exactly as he has been, careless of who might be affected. I just didn’t really like either of them, and with Sabrina’s illogical and misguided choices for her charitable endeavours, the whole book really didn’t hit any good notes for me. I can’t give it more than two stars.

Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this title via NetGalley.
Profile Image for dia.
284 reviews12 followers
April 6, 2020
thanks netgalley & publisher for the eARC!


So. This is my first book by this author, and I really didn't know anything about the series before requesting it lol
The book starts w/ Sabrina having a panic attack, thanks to her abusive husband, and that's when she meets Harry, the hero of this whole thing. It then skips to six years later, with Harry in debt, gambling away everything and wasting himself on alcohol, while Sabrina, after her husband's death, now controls her finances and houses and her own life.
Sabrina does some charity and helps ruined young men using the name of Lord Damion, and that's how she finally meets Harry again, after all these years. It took... so long for them to be together again?? Maybe I'm just used to other romances but it felt really slow, with so much description about their own lives and business...

Harry was... really unlikeable until the second half of the book. He's pathetic, whiny, completely ruined, and I don't know how Sabrina could ever be attracted to him - despite the title he didn't seem much of a rake or a charming person at all. Maybe we just have different tastes lmao but his character development is quite good. Sabrina just... doesn't seem to develop much? Despite her situation w/ her abusive husband I feel like the book lacked a bit on the whole ~learning how to trust men again~. Just because Harry wants to be good and not die poor I don't think I'd instantly trust him to like not be a shitty husband.

There's a lot of exposition, talking about the past, and most interactions happen in the final part of the book only. It's like a slow burn, but it didn't even feel like much of a romance considering how long it took for anything to happen between them. I didn't really feel the connection or the sparks or whatever, and .

Honestly I feel like this was better as historical fiction instead of (historical) romance. Harry's growth was much more interesting than what went on between him and Sabrina.

Also, considering some climax revelations... it felt like something was missing from the ending. I don't think that got addressed at all??? So yeah.

Anyway it was enjoyable I guess, despite the boring beginning, so 3 stars!
Profile Image for Mara.
1,095 reviews64 followers
May 18, 2020
Oh how I love this series about the Mayfield Family. I was especially looking forward to Harry Stillman's story because he's such a mess--he's in a lot of debt due to his gambling, he's become an alcoholic and he's a rake. Needless to say, he's not thrilled with his uncle's "marriage campaign" which requires him to find a wife in order to receive his inheritance. Harry has borrowed money from a very horrible man (think Regency loan shark) in order to pay his debts because his uncle has cut him off financially--a little tough love hoping it would prompt Harry to change his ways. With no way to pay off the debt Harry hits rock bottom.

Lady Sabrina lives a life of solitude of her own making. She prefers it that way since the death of her abusive husband, and I don't blame her after all she suffered at his hands. She acts as hostess for her unmarried brother during the season and tends to the multitude of roses in the garden of her home. When she comes upon a severely beaten man (Harry) she brings him to her secluded home to have his injuries tended to.

I loved this unusual love story. Harry is grateful to have been rescued and have been tended to, but he's not prepared for Sabrina's strict rules, and he thinks he can charm her to get what he wants, like he's done so many times with other women. Those other women weren't Sabrina and she's not budging. As Harry recuperates and they start playing chess together after dinner, Harry manages to discover things about Sabrina and she in turn helps Harry discover and face truths about himself.

Harry was an easy character to dislike at first. He gambled and wouldn't stop even when he was ahead, he drank a lot which clouded his judgement (and not just about gambling), and he acted so ungrateful towards Sabrina when she wouldn't let him have more than a glass of sherry at night. I loved that Sabrina stood her ground. I loved how Josi Kilpack got these two characters together and how they each discovered things about themselves. Harry had to face painful things from his past that had lead to his self-destructive behavior, and Sabrina had to learn to risk opening her heart again. Harry's story isn't just about finding love, it's also a story of redemption. I also loved Sabrina's staff and how they were part of her family.

This is part of the Mayfield Family series but I feel each one works as a standalone. Thanks to NetGalley and Shadow Mountain for my complimentary copy. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my own.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 402 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.