Lady Wesley's Reviews > The Rake

The Rake by Mary Jo  Putney
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Mar 18, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: lendable, fave-favorites, amz-rev, aar-top-100-2010, aar-top-100-2013, playing-chess-not-checkers, hero-not-a-duke
Read from April 23 to 26, 2012 , read count: 1

Alys Weston is running from her past, and Reggie Davenport is fleeing his future. Fate brings them together on Reggie's Dorset estate, Strickland.

It's uncommon, to say the least, for a woman to be an estate steward, yet Alys has been able to pull off that job for four years, communicating with the absentee owner in writing. When Reggie's cousin, the new owner, gives the estate over to Reggie, Alys sees her idyll coming to an end. Yet, when Reggie arrives at Strickland, he proves to be surprisingly open-minded and impressed by Alys's success; he keeps her on as steward.

Reggie is a rake of the first order, but more than that, he's a drunkard who, at age thirty-seven, has begun to suffer blackouts. Even he has become convinced that his life is on a dangerous trajectory; a voice in his head keeps telling him, "This way of life is killing you." He believes that Strickland may be his salvation.

Alys and Reggie gradually become friends, and though they are attracted to one another, nothing more than a few kisses are exchanged. When fire destroys the steward's house, Alys and her three young wards move into the estate house, and Reggie begins to know the joys of a family for the first time in his life.

But Reggie's real problem is his drinking, and a great deal of this story revolves around his efforts to first get it under control and later to stop altogether. It's heartbreaking to watch him try and fail and try again.

Mary Jo Putney does an excellent job portraying the inner demons that plague Reggie. At the same time, she doesn't succumb to the temptation that some writers might feel to make Reggie's recovery all about his love for Alys. Reggie is getting sober for himself, not for someone else. And while Putney does lapse into a bit of AA one-day-at-a-time-speak occasionally, she is able to keep the story from sounding too modern.

There's an engaging cast of secondary characters and a couple of other romances. And I particularly enjoyed how Putney handled the epilogue: after Reggie and Alys marry, the other characters are shown reacting to the news, wrapping the whole story up quite nicely.

I picked out this book because of its high GR ratings, its having won the RITA in 1990, and its ranking in AAR's Top 100 romances of all time. All these accolades are well and truly deserved.

I don't know what else to say other than this is a really good book, and I highly recommend it.
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Reading Progress

04/23
0.0% "I've read so many raves about this oldie that I had to try it."
04/26
60.0% "I'm really enjoying this book. Reggie and Alys are mature, non-naive, and disciplined enough to resist entanglement. It's very touching watching him try to deal with being a reformed drunkard."
03/21 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-19 of 19) (19 new)

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Kyraryker/WhiskeyintheJar This has been on my tbr list forever, I'll have to check the local library and see if they have it. Great review!


Lady Wesley Kyraryker wrote: "This has been on my tbr list forever, I'll have to check the local library and see if they have it. Great review!"

Thank you. I hope you enjoy it.


Janga The Rake is one of my all-time favorites, and it was groundbreaking in its day. Your review makes me want to pull my copy out for a reread. I also like MJP's novella "Sunshine for Christmas" in which Lord Randolph Lennox, Alys's first love, gets his HEA.


Lady Wesley Thank you, Janga. I'm flattered that you liked my review. As the former wife of an alcoholic, I hesitated to read this story, but in the end I loved it.

Another impressive book in a similar vein is Carla Kelly's Reforming Lord Ragsdale, which I'm sure you've read. Both CK and MJP do excellent jobs un-romanticizing their heroes' drinking problems.


message 5: by Caz (new) - rated it 5 stars

Caz Nice review :) One of my all-time faves; I think it made my AAR top ten.

I really appreciated how MJP doesn't sugar coat anything, or have Reggie miraculously "cured" by luurve. She makes it realistic within the limits set by an historical romance, which is quite an achievement. So many books coming out now that purport to be "darker" stories, and which feature abuse and/or addiction fail to resolve those issues properly and could take a lesson in "how to do it right" from this book.


Misfit I just finished this and loved it. I can't recall the thread, but I think I have Lady Wesley to thank for recommending this.


Janga Lady Wesley wrote: "Thank you, Janga. I'm flattered that you liked my review. As the former wife of an alcoholic, I hesitated to read this story, but in the end I loved it.

Another impressive book in a similar vein ..."


I agree about Reforming Lord Ragsdale. It is my favorite CK. Nez in Kelly's One Good Turn is a recovering alcoholic. That one too is excellent.


message 8: by Deniz (new)

Deniz This has been on my tbr list for a long time. Nica review:) I should read it..


Lady Wesley Deniz wrote: "This has been on my tbr list for a long time. Nica review:) I should read it.."

Yes, I highly recommend it.


Wendy Great review - Caz has just recommended it so I looked it up. 5.stars from both of you is a must!


Lady Wesley Yes, this one is so good that it's one of the very few on my "playing chess not checkers" shelf -- for books that go beyond romance into seriously excellent fiction.


Wendy Even better - thank you


Sher❤ The Fabulous BookLover I don't know why I haven't read this yet. Nice review!


Carol *Young at Heart Oldie* After reading your review, I'm definitely adding this to my must-read list.


Lady Wesley Carol *Young at Heart Oldie* wrote: "After reading your review, I'm definitely adding this to my must-read list."

Thank you, Carol. I hope that you like it as much as I did.

Just last week, an audio version was issued, and even though I'm not familiar with the narrator, I immediately used my Audible credit.


Lady Wesley Sher❤ The Fabulous BookLover wrote: "I don't know why I haven't read this yet. Nice review!"

Thank you, Sher. I hope you do read it and like it as much as I did.


message 17: by Caz (new) - rated it 5 stars

Caz Lady Wesley wrote: "Carol *Young at Heart Oldie* wrote: "After reading your review, I'm definitely adding this to my must-read list."

Thank you, Carol. I hope that you like it as much as I did.

Just last week, an a..."


The narrator is Nick Boulton/Alex Wyndham standard :)


Lady Wesley Caz wrote: "The narrator is Nick Boulton/Alex Wyndham standard :) "

Yay! A credit well spent then.


message 19: by Caz (new) - rated it 5 stars

Caz Lady Wesley wrote: "Caz wrote: "The narrator is Nick Boulton/Alex Wyndham standard :) "

Yay! A credit well spent then."


Yep - I got an early review copy and am writing it up for AG now, but I thought he was really good. He's got quite a few titles up at Audible so is obviously experienced, but no other romances. Let's hope he can be persuaded to do some more.


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