Last Rake Standing by Jayne Fresina
Publisher: Evernight Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Historical
Length: Short Story (78 Pages)
Heat Level: Sensual
Rating: 4 books
Reviewed by Fennel
In Victorian London, Emma Hale leads two lives. As Le Petite Oiseau, in corset and pink feathers, she's the reigning queen of the music hall; offstage she's a prim-faced theatre seamstress. For years these two women have shared one body; now they share something else—forbidden love for a man who could destroy them both.
Marcus Craven, Duke of Penhale, wants Le Petite Oiseau as his mistress, but he's also sworn to hunt down and revenge himself on the hazel-eyed girl who once shot at him with a dueling pistol. On this winter's evening when he finds both women in his path, he suddenly faces a dilemma.
What exactly does Marcus want? The fiery, passionate actress or the quiet "mouse" hiding in her shadow?
Perhaps this notorious rake wants them both.
The author’s descriptions in this story propel the reader from one scene to the next effortlessly. Ms. Fresina unfolds the back-story skilfully in such a way the reader is reaching conclusions that require readjustment on more than one occasion. I did, however, find the prologue wording a little disconcerting in that the heroine couldn’t know ‘it was the beginning of the end.’
The mystery surrounding the hard working and independent Holly O’Neil deepens when her seamstress, Emma Hale, constantly goes missing. Why are the two are never in the same place at once? And why does the Earl of Penhale constitute such a threat to Holly’s peace of mind, and why is she convinced he can ruin her?
The Earl of Penhale, Marcus Craven, is out for revenge...or is he? His pursuit of Holly O’Neil is single-minded and brooks no intervention from others. Until that is, in a moment of drunken stupidity, he accepts a wager to find and persuade a female to marry him by Friday. Given his reputation, that could be the first wager he loses.
The Last Rake Standing is packed full of suspense on many levels and is the sandwich for the humour in between. The heroine is feisty beyond acceptable for the times, and Marcus Craven is disliked by most of the Ton, including his mother, and yet together Holly and Marcus create a pair of loveable rogues who are meant to be together. The final twist may be a little suspect but works never-the-less.
Last Rake Standing is a fun read that has you rooting for the main characters. Both are badly flawed and more believable for it.
If you are looking for a light-hearted historical read, then consider The Last Rake Standing, you won’t be disappointed.