The Rake’s Challenge
The novel opens with alternate chapters depicting the very different lives of the two main characters. First we have the dissolute and bored Giles Maltravers, Earl of Longwood, leaving the bed of a society beauty for whom he feels little; she is merely the latest in a long line. He is the rake of the title, impeccably dressed, broad shoulders, thick black hair, expert at duelling and driving in his curricle, all very manly and admirable abilities. Meanwhile we see the lovely, lost Annabelle Lawrence, who has run away from home and, while on her way to a new situation as lady’s companion, becomes entangled with some ruffians and must be rescued. She is suitably grateful, innocent and somehow different to all the society beauties he has had.
The reader will probably not be surprised at the direction in which the plot goes, but the journey there is pleasant enough, with lots of period detail and much biting of lips, dancing of minuets and learning the language of the fan. There is also a subplot involving the prince regent and a dastardly attempt at poisoning, but that is essentially subordinate to the main love plot, which is prolonged until the usual satisfactory conclusion. One for fans of the genre who will have their sensibilities tickled and enjoy this light read greatly.