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Friday, July 13, 2012

The Casanova Code by Donna MacMeans

The Casanova Code by Donna MacMeans
Book One of the Rake Patrol
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (276 pgs)
Heat Level: Hot
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Nymphaea

“A refined gentleman, age 25, of wealth and education, seeks the acquaintance, with a view to matrimony, of a high-minded, kind-hearted lady who prefers an evening of quiet conversation to the lively demands of society.”

Edwina Hargrove knows that this “gentleman” was, in fact, Ashton Trewelyn, a rake notorious for seducing the young and naive. In fact, five decent women have already been tricked and bundled off to the continent for scandalous purposes. There was a way to thwart his scheme though—by shadowing this devilishly handsome Casanova and warning his prey.

If only it were that simple. Wounded and weary, Ashton Trewelyn returns home to London from the King’s Royal Rifles, but soon discovers a coded message that has implications to the Crown and his family. His only hope to unravel the mystery lies in the enigmatic Edwina’s ability to recognize patterns. Even as he leads her on a path of secret societies and risque temptations, he discovers she arouses his jaded soul with temptations of her own. Must they risk everything to decipher Casanova’s code?

There's the saying a tiger can't change his stripes, but what if he does?

I hadn't taken the time to open a book by Donna MacMeans until I nabbed a copy of The Casanova Code. Let me say here and now, I was so wrong to wait this long. I snickered, cheered, and at times wanted to toss the book across the room. Why? Because I got so wrapped up in the characters! I did. I sat down to read this book planning to take in two, maybe three chapters, then get some other things done. Before I knew it, more than an hour had gone by, along with over half the tale. The writing flowed so well, I was stuck fast in my seat needing to know what would happen next. I felt like I was right there with them and couldn't get enough.

Why would I want to throw the book if I liked it so much? In every great book, this being no exception, there are times when the characters do things that seem... odd. As much as I wasn't sure I'd like Ashton, the hero, I did. I loved how he evolved through the story and grew into his own. That said, there were a few moments when he made choices I didn't agree with. That's a good thing! He kept the story lively. Then there was Edwina. There's a line Ashton's father says, 'whatever happened to good old-fashioned names, like Mary or Rose?' That line really fit. She wasn't an average girl. She kept reminding everyone she was a 'modern woman'. I give her credit - riding the bicycle, free-thinking in a time when women were expected to wed and produce children... she had it all. Yes, there were a couple of times, neither I'll go into detail on as to not ruin the story, where I wanted to shout 'why are you doing that' and yet, I understood. I got great insight into the times they lived in.

There was one detail threaded through the story that gave a new twist on the historical. The Japanese Pillow Books. Again, I won't go into a lot of detail as to not ruin the story, but these books were white hot. A reader not expecting a sexual topic within the story might be taken aback by the theme of sexual object, but be assured, Ms. MacMeans handled the story arc with flair. It's a great addition and I liked it.

If you want a book that will stick with you long after the last page, then this might be the book you're looking for. I recommend it highly.