To Capture a Rake by Lori Brighton (audiobook) – Narrated by Fiona Underwood

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In all his time as a male prostitute at Lavender Hills, Gideon Drake has never been hired out, never been allowed to leave the gilded cage in which he pleasures the well-heeled wives of London. So when a young widow convinces Lady Lavender to release her prize stud for a week-long seduction at a country estate, Gideon spies his chance for escape. It is the perfect plan—until his beautiful client reawakens a passion he thought long dead…

After her husband’s death, Elizabeth Ashton knows she must remarry, but not just any man will do. She must find Lord Ashton’s long-lost bastard nephew and convince him to wed, cementing his claim to the family fortune. Of course, rescuing herself from certain ruin means venturing into Lavender Hills and putting her life into the hands of a dark, handsome rogue as notorious for his cold heart as he is for his sexual expertise. Somehow, Elizabeth must convince him to love her, to marry her, and ultimately to save her.

One touch will ignite the flame of their passion. One kiss will prove this liaison unlike the others. Bound by desire and need, only together are they strong enough to face down their enemies—and to claim the promise of love.

Rating: B- for narration and C for content

To Capture a Rake is the follow-up story to To Seduce an Earl, which I read last year and, despite a few reservations, enjoyed overall. The heroes of each of the three novels in the series are male prostitutes, employed by the infamous Lady Lavender at her exclusive establishment for ladies looking for a little “company”. Although employed may not be the correct term, as each of them is more or less a prisoner, forced into working as whores and kept there because they are being blackmailed by Lady Lavender over some dark secret in their pasts.

When we met Gideon Drake in the first book, he was jaded, cynical and hard-hearted. His continual escape attempts mean that he is never allowed to leave Lavender Hills – until his latest client somehow manages to persuade Lady L to let him leave with her for a two-week stay at her country estate.

Elizabeth Ashton is a wealthy widow seeking male companionship. She has one particular male in mind, and despite Lady Lavender’s attempts to dissuade her, refuses to leave without the man she wants – Gideon. It’s clear from the outset that she has sought him out for reasons that have little to do with his profession (well, she wants him for that, too!) and that she is not quite the woman of the world she is trying to appear.

Naturally, Gideon is suspicious, both of Elizabeth and of her motives in springing him from Lavender Hills. He is abrasive, sullen, and often rude, partly because it’s his survival mechanism, partly because he’s been that way for so long that he’s almost forgotten how to be anything else, and partly (as the story progresses) as a way to keep an emotional distance from Elizabeth, even as he recognises that he is attracted to her beyond what is required of him.

The story revolves around family secrets and a missing heir, with an obnoxious and possibly murderous mother-in-law thrown in for good measure. It’s nothing that hasn’t been done before, although the fact that the hero has been earning his living as a whore for the past decade or so does put a slightly different spin on things. Elizabeth, too, is not your run-of-the-mill genteel widow; before she married she was a chambermaid so she, like Gideon, has experienced the worst of society as well as the comforts it can offer.

While I had a couple of minor issues with the plotting (it’s difficult to explain without giving too much away), my problems with the book overall were principally concerned with the characterisation and more importantly, with the progression of the romance.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

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