The Redemption of Lord Rawlings by Rachel Van Dyken
Publisher: Astraea Press
Length: Full Length (223 pgs)
Rated: 5 Stars
Review by Snapdragon
Phillip Crawford, the eighth Earl of Rawlings and notorious rake of the ton, has come to the end of his rope. Out of money, out of favor, and out of luck, he wanders the streets of London in the rain, hoping to be hit by inspiration...or a runaway carriage. Something has to give. It is his father's final cruel trick to hold his inheritance just out of reach, requiring him to marry by his next birthday in order to claim his full rights as earl. His step-mother refuses to offer him any more support. With no money, no prospects and no other place to turn, he has only two options:
Marriage or debtor's prison.
The better choice seems clear enough, but with his name and reputation being attacked daily in the society papers, there's not a proper lady in all of London desperate enough to accept him. It isn't going to be easy, even if the reports of his exploits and rakish lifestyle are greatly exaggerated.
On the other hand, debtor's prison does start to look much more appealing when the only friends he has left decide to help him in his search for the perfect bride. Matters become much more complicated when the only woman who shows an interest in him just happens to be the young sister-in-law of the Duke of Tempest; the same man who, just months ago, had been tempted to kill him.
One thing is for certain, as the Season draws to an end, Lord Rawlings will have to decide once and for all, if his wicked ways are enough to bring him contentment in life, or if a leopard really can change his spots. Or in Phillip's case—can a devil truly be redeemed?
In The Redemption of Lord Rawlings the steamy cover really does not lead one astray. Oh it all begins darkly enough: Phillip Crawford, Earl of Rawlings... doomed. He needs a rescue –the kind of rescue that would arrive with a bride and (more importantly) generous dowry. Its not an uncommon problem… but miserable, nonetheless.
Then the brazen nymph appears…and we (and he) can hardly believe it. In a way, this sets the tone for this fun and fast paced romance. A subtle hint of whimsy drives some of the action, even the serious, driven-by-hatred type action (desperate though things become) there is a crafty undertone of humor throughout.
So here we have Phillip, quite startled in fact, as he is ‘a rake beyond redemption’; he’s hardly expecting to meet someone worse than he is, without a moment’s notice!
Abigail is no hoyden, not really: she IS a very calculating package for certain. And Papa is wrapped around her little finger, in a completely devoted and utterly believable sort of way. Phillip is about to be her mark: she can hardly be considered inexperienced, but this is a new realm for her, in truth. London drawing rooms set the stage for these events, as well as the expected ball and similar. Yet, although the backdrop is quite perfect, in fact it remains politely in the ‘back.’
Characters, without a doubt, run this whole show. The ‘redemption’ is a speedy charge into society – the nice and the not-so-nice, and you will (in spite of yourself) cheer even for the manipulative one who (at least) really does have a good heart…as does, all unexpectedly, someone else. My only complaint is that everyone seemed to “smirk” over practically everything - but one over-used word is hardly something to harp on.
Intriguing from the start, Van Dyken’s deft touch keeps the pace – and the people – lively.
Historical romance fans will not find themselves alone in being completely entertained by ‘The Redemption of Lord Rawlings.’