Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Chivalrous Rake by Elizabeth Rolls

I had been looking forward to this one since I first read about Jack Hamilton in The Dutiful Rake were he was the voice of reason. In that tale Jack was the calming influence for Marc when he falls for his poor relation Meg.

That Jack is nowhere to be found in this tale. Except for the kind heart Jack exhibits with his friend and employees, he has been completely transformed into a distrustful, close minded, raving lunatic. There is just so much one can blame on love and I was a bit disappointed to find this changed Jack.

For this sequel we get a repeat theme of The Dutiful Rake. Jack has broken a collarbone and is homebound when Dr Bramley and his daughter Cressida arrive at his doorstep. Dr. Bramley has lost his position as a vicar and, as Jack's distant cousin, seeks to stay a few weeks with Jack.

Cressida is looking to find a position as a governess or companion but Jack becomes irrational and refuses to allow it. So Jack offers her father the position of his personal Librarian. He does some good deeds toward Cressida developing a friendship that has him falling in love with her but his distrust and close mindedness makes Cressida search for other options for her livelihood to get out from under his roof.

Seems there is a reason why Cressida and her father are homeless and without character references she cannot dream of finding a job. When Jack discovers what happened to Cressida and her father he jumps at the excuse to offer for her, but she refuses him. So now we have the Big Misunderstanding that Rolls is famous for.

Jack believes she doesn't want him as a husband and arranges to have a dowry given to her, He then takes them to London for the rest of the season so that she can have her pick of men, but things don't work out as smoothly as Jack would have wanted.

In the end we do get to see our old Jack back but it's on the lines of too little too late. There was lots that could have been done with Jack but Rolls took the easy street by relying on the Big Misunderstanding and falling back on themes that are worn and old. Rolls' does have a good flow to this story and the words fly off the pages but I'm not sure if that is enough to makeup for the lack of plot.

Grade: C-


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