Never Kiss a Rake

Written by Anne Stuart
Review by Nancy J. Attwell

Twenty-eight-year-old Bryony Russell does not believe the accusations of embezzlement against her recently deceased father. Determined to find proof of his innocence, she seeks a job as housekeeper at the London home of her prime suspect, her father’s business partner, Adrian Bruton, Earl of Kilmartyn. There could scarcely be a more dysfunctional household than that of Adrian and his beautiful wife, Cecily. Bryony quickly brings order to the chaos amongst the staff, but the passionate advances of the married earl are a little more difficult to control.

Set in 1869, this first book of Stuart’s series about the three Russell sisters is a full-fledged Victorian gothic complete with murder, mayhem, and a roguish hero. Stuart’s writing style is entertaining, and her legion of fans will enjoy the romantic escapades of Adrian and Bryony. The moral ambiguities in the story will bother some, but not all, readers. More disappointing is the acceleration of the story as the book nears its end, jumping over plot connections and racing to the finish. Although this heightened frenzy of activity is frustrating, it does not diminish my anticipation for the continuation of the story in the next book.