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Saturday, July 7, 2012

Review: Barely A Lady (The Drake’s Rakes #1) by Eileen Dreyer

Rakes 1

Olivia Grace has secrets that could destroy her. One of the greatest of these is the Earl of Gracechurch, who married and divorced her five years earlier. Abandoned and disgraced, Grace has survived those years at the edge of respectability. Then she stumbles over Jack on the battlefield of Waterloo, and he becomes an even more dangerous secret. For not only is he unconscious, he is clad in an enemy uniform.

But worse, when Jack finally wakes in Olivia's care, he can't remember how he came to be on a battlefield in Belgium. In fact, he can remember nothing of the last five years. He thinks he and Olivia are still blissfully together. To keep him from being hanged for a traitor, Olivia must pretend she and Jack are still married.

To unearth the real traitors, Olivia and Jack must unravel the truth hidden within his faulty memory. To save themselves and the friends who have given them sanctuary, they must stand against their enemies, even as they both keep their secrets.

In the end, can they risk everything to help Jack recover his lost memories, even though the truth may destroy them both?

My Review:

Barely A Lady takes place in Europe,  in the year 1815.  Divorce as we know it does not exist in this time. In these times, a divorced woman is shunned from polite society and is converted to being a persona non grata.

Such is the fate Olivia Grace has endured as a scheme orchestrated by her husband’s cousin – the vile and perverted Gervaise, tears her marriage apart to Jack, the Earl of Gracechurch.

Grace’s gullible husband, Jack, readily (and without proof) believes his cousin Gervaise that his wife is being unfaithful to him. Without preamble, Jack puts a three month pregnant Grace out of his house, only to shortly divorce her.

Five years pass and Napoleon has Europe under siege. Grace has struggled to make ends meet by finding employment wherever she can – all while trying to hide her identity and her location from Gervaise, who relentlessly pursues her, trying to get her to be his.

During Napoleon’s last stand at Waterloo, Grace meets Lady Kate, a young, single, and wealthy duchess who accepts her for who she is, and her friend, Grace Fairchild, the daughter of an English general. In the aftermath of the battle, the women band together, taking in the wounded and helping however they can.

While searching for Grace’s father after the battle, Olivia happens to find her former husband, Jack, wounded in the battlefield. He’s wearing a French uniform, so if he is caught, he will immediately be put to death. Without a second thought, Olivia rescues him and takes him to tend to his wounds – all the while hiding his identity from the rest of her friends.

When Jack wakes up, he has amnesia with no recollection of the past five years and thinks Olivia is still his wife. But as he slowly begins to recover his memory, everyone realizes there is more to his story than they ever thought possible.

I have a confession, Fellow Readers. It’s been a long . . . long . . . time since I read a Historical Romance. Though I can’t remember the date or the actual book, it must have been when I was a teenager–sometime in the late 1980’s! LOL So please forgive me if I’m a bit rusty on my expectations on this genre.

Language. I had some . . . technical difficulties I guess you could say, in reading the language of the times. I think I wore out my Kindle dictionary because there were some words on there I had no clue what they meant, and neither did Kindle. There were also several characters who spoke with an accent which made it a tough read for me. But that was just a minor setback for me enjoying this book. 

Storyline. The main issue I had with Barely A Lady had to do with the storyline. Okay, let me explain. So fast forwarding a few decades from the 1980’s, I’ve been in my share of  relationships and I currently have a 15 year marriage and a child under my belt. My naivety of seeing life through rose tinted glasses is a bit tainted, but I’m a hopeless romantic and can’t help myself when a Happily Ever After (HEA) is promised.

Still, there’s a part of me that cannot imagine taking back a man who carelessly threw me away after being married and giving him a child. To relate Barely A Lady to today’s time – it would be the equivalent of being left by a husband in a foreign country while being pregnant and you didn’t understand the language, or the customs, and you were without a friend or a dime to your name. There would be no consulate around the corner. You would be alone and have no one to call for help.

If I were in that situation, to say I would be angry with my ex would be an understatement, so if I were to miraculously survive through it all and five years later see said ex-husband on a battlefield – dying – with no witnesses, or cameras around . . . umm . . . it would be a no brainer.

I wouldn’t risk my life, or that of my friends who actually helped me, and involve myself in whatever he was doing – much less tend to his wounds and nurse him to health all while he mutters his current lover’s name every time I’m tending to him.

  But that’s just my personal hang ups coming into play.

Barely A Lady is very well written and Eileen Dreyer (ED) did an amazing job researching the time period. She mixes in intrigue and suspense masterfully in this book, and had there been another man who did value Grace in the story, and he would have been her love interest,  Barely A Lady would have been one of my favorite books. But when Grace takes back her ex-husband, it made me lose all respect for her.

But, in Grace’s defense, I understand in the 1800’s this was exactly what would denote an HEA. It would be the only way for Grace to 'clear’ her name of the slander she had been subjected to and return to her previous life where people didn’t treat her like a pariah. Still, it was a tough read for me.

Another plus in this book was the sexxy scenes! They were phenomenal and hottt! Can’t wait to see what other positions storylines ED has in the rest of the books in this series. I just hope they don’t feature similar themes where women take back men who aren’t worth a damn. *crossing fingers*

Olivia desperately wanted to be out there. No, she admitted. What she really wanted was just to be away. To maybe run back to her little cottage in Devon, where she could regain her distance. Where she could recover her sanity. She wanted to be gone before she succumbed to this insane ride of emotions
and made an irredeemable mistake.

She couldn’t afford to fall in love again. Jack’s memory would return, and he would once again abandon her. And this time, it might just destroy her. She didn’t leave, though. She stayed where she was, listening to Jack toss restlessly in the bed, plucking at his blanket, patting where his pockets would have been, searching for something.

For someone.

“Mimi!” Jack called, just as he had been all evening.

“Probably his old pony,” Olivia heard behind her.

Olivia turned to see Lady Kate standing at the door. “If it is, she’s a blond pony with breasts like pomegranates.”

The little duchess stepped in, and Olivia saw that she was wearing another dressing gown, this one of shimmery peacock silk decorated in gold dragons that writhed across her shoulders.

“Pomegranates?” she echoed, staring down at Jack. “Good Lord. I know he’s changed, but who knew he’d grown poetic?”

Olivia considered Jack a moment. “He has changed, hasn’t he?”

Lady Kate did her own assessment. “He isn’t really our golden Jack anymore. I think life caught up with him.”

[Later, Olivia gives Jack a bath]

Without taking her gaze from his, finally she reached down and lifted away the insufficient washcloth. She looked to where her hand hovered just above his straining cock, and she seemed to sigh. And then, with exquisite slowness, she dipped her hand into the water and wrapped it around him.

He almost exploded right into her hand. He braced himself, every muscle clenched so tightly he thought he’d seize, his eyes squeezed shut. He could smell the flower scent of her hair as she eased close to him.

He could hear the quick, small panting of her breath and knew her mouth was open just enough to slip his tongue into if he wanted. He felt the tremor in her fingers as she began to slide them along his shaft and thought that she was as close to climax as he was.

“Sweet… Jesus,” he gasped, balanced on a shattering edge, his hands wrapped around the edge of the tub to keep him from yanking her to him. “I can’t…”

Her fingers swept over his quivering tip, measured the length of him, then dipped lower to cup his balls.

Teasing, tormenting, taunting. “I forgot… ,” she whispered, and he thought how tortured her voice sounded.

She was so close he could feel the heat lift off her skin. He couldn’t help it. He had to touch her. With
one hand, he reached up to cup her breast, her full, luscious breast he had once spent a full day mapping.

Caressing, suckling, tickling. Laughing when she’d objected to his calling her birthmark the X that marked the perfect spot.

She was so hot, so soft, so ripe. She was everything any man could want.

Why had he wanted more?

It was almost enough to ruin him. If she hadn’t still had hold of him, he might have faltered. If he didn’t have the most disturbing suspicion that he wasn’t the only one who had forgotten how this felt.

“I need a kiss, Liv,” he managed, wanting to hold her. Wanting to ask her if she would take him into her, if she would be his comfort. His resting place. His peace. “Ineed you.”

She lifted her head and looked bemused, as if waking from a dream she couldn’t quite remember. “I love it… ,” she whispered, as if it were being dragged out of her, “when you…”

She didn’t have to finish the sentence. Jack knew it like a brand on his heart. He heard it again, just as she’d whispered it in his ear last spring. Last spring? He wasn’t sure anymore.

But he was sure of what she’d said. What gift she’d given him. Before she could finish, he reached up to cup her face in his hands and brought her to him. And then, without understanding why, without even hearing it until she froze, he murmured into her mouth, “How could I love Mimi more than this?”

Livvie yanked back so fast water splashed all over the floor.

“What?” she asked, her voice deadly quiet.

Jack stared, appalled.




Never A Gentleman by Eileen Dreyer

Rakes 2

It saddens me to say, the sequel to Barely a LadyNever A Gentleman also has a similar theme to its predecessor. Since I don’t enjoy reading adulterous themes, this series is just not for me and I did not finish this book.

Eileen Dreyer is a phenomenal writer and I enjoyed the setting of intrigue and spy dealings going on in the background of her stories. I just wish I wasn’t such a romantic sap and could have gotten on board with everything else.


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