The Enigmatic Rake

Written by Anne O’Brien
Review by Eileen Charbonneau

Plot elements of Jane Eyre meet late Regency espionage in this fast-moving historical romance. Lord Joshua Sherborne Farington has the thankless task of being a spy as Napoleon is dying and the restored French monarchy struggles to take hold. The young and impoverished war widow Sarah Russell, his newly appointed housekeeper, has all she can do to steer clear of her new employer and his rakish reputation. When she begins turning his young daughter’s heart toward him, and her own son adds to the new family mix, Joshua sends his mistress packing and makes a surprise proposal of marriage. The post-nuptial courtship involves firing the young widow’s heart and court intrigue on a fateful trip to Paris.

Though an anachronism or two (“self-esteem”) pops up and “telling” short cuts might have been better shown, this story of doubt-plagued Sarah and her rescuer rarely fails to enchant. Besides, who can resist a romance literate enough to put “enigmatic” in the title?