A Risque Business
All of London is abuzz with the return of the utterly alluring, recently widowed Diane Benchley. Will she remarry? What will she do with her late husband’s fortune? Society is shocked by her announcement-at the Grand Ball, of all places!-that she plans to open an exclusive gentleman’s gaming club in the family mansion. But no one is more stunned than the Marquis of Haybury, Oliver Warren.
An Indecent Proposal
Years ago, Oliver and Diane shared a private indiscretion. Now Diane threatens to reveal Oliver’s most ungentlemanly secrets… unless he agrees to help her. A notorious gambler-and rake-Oliver is overqualified to educate Diane in the ways and means of running her establishment. But striking a deal with Diane might just be the biggest risk Oliver has ever taken. This time, the only thing he has to lose is his heart…
A Beginner’s Guide to Rakes is the first book in the Scandalous Brides series, and it was nothing short of brilliant. Couple a sarcastic, smarty-pants heroine with a charming, bad boy hero and you have one hell of a story. Every once in a while, a book comes along that really really reminds me why I love to read. This was one of those books.
Our leads, Diane Benchley and Oliver Warren, have a past. And it is this past that has made the two somewhat… hostile towards one another. Diane’s late husband gambled away their fortune and left them destitute. Then the bastard went and died, leaving her in the lurch. Oliver bailing on her was the final straw, and it taught her a valuable lesson: you can’t trust anyone, least of all a man. So Diane vowed that she would rely only on herself, and endeavored to get herself out of the mess her dearly-departed husband left her in. See, Diane has this grand master plan: she’s going to do something so scandalous that no one is going to be able to resist coming to see what’s the what. Dianne is going to open a gentleman’s club staffed almost exclusively by… women. Diane has everything all planned out. There’s only more thing she needs to make sure her plan is foolproof, and that is Oliver Warren. Much as Dianne would rather avoid Oliver, there is no denying that the man knows his stuff when it comes to gambling and the like. And luckily for Diane, she has a little something to blackmail Oliver with should he prove reluctant. Boy, was he really super reluctant.
This book was really so much fun. I loved the witty and sarcastic barbs Oliver and Diane exchanged. I also liked that Diane wasn’t just willing to fall into Oliver’s arms the second he showed up. He hurt her and it was going to take time for him to earn her trust. I have to be honest, Diane totally outshone Oliver for me. I enjoyed his character, I thought he was very charming, but he didn’t have the same ooomph as Diane. I think it’s pretty hard for authors of historical romances to create kickass heroines without resorting to cliches (take the hot, petite chick dressing up like a young boy as an example). Enoch managed to create a no-nonsense leading lady without having to resort to any of the tropes so common in the genre.
I absolutely adored this book. It was so much fun. Diane was the perfect mix of sassy yet vulnerable, and Oliver managed to balance his devil-may-care charm with sincerity. I would definitely recommend this book if you’re looking for an original take on historical romance. You can get it over at Amazon or at Kobo. It’s actually cheaper at Kobo, but I heard that they did something (no clue what) and pissed a bunch of people off. If you are boycotting them, Amazon is the place to go.