Monday, August 13, 2012

How to Romance a Rake by Manda Collins

What’s a nice girl like Miss Juliet Shelby doing in a place like Lord Deveril’s ballroom? With her shy demeanor, she’s a total stranger to the dance floor and a source of mockery for the ton. So imagine her surprise when Deveril gallantly comes to her defense—and offers to teach her to dance! Juliet can hardly believe the most handsome bachelor in London would notice her, until he takes her in his arms and sets her heart ablaze…
Lord Alec Deveril has never felt such a spark of attraction for an unmarried lady before. Unlike the “fashionable” women he’s accustomed to, Juliet possesses a generous spirit, a fiery intelligence—and an explosive secret. Deep in the London underworld, a dear friend has vanished, and Juliet fears the worst. Deveril insists on helping, escorting her through the darkest alleys in town. But he too is hiding a shocking secret—and the only way he can defeat the devil in his past is to seduce the angel in his arms …
(synopsis from

Paperback, St. Martin's Press, 336 pages   

This is the second book in Manda Collins’ Ugly Duckling Series. The heroine of this book is Juliet Shelby a lovely young girl with two strikes against her, a limp and a viper for a mother. Juliet has long concealed the severity of her leg injury and in fact has a missing foot and makes use of prosthesis. Interestingly, Ms. Collins reveals in her forward that she herself has a “high tech above the knee prosthesis”. In Juliet’s circle such a situation would make her a pariah in society and she has kept it a secret even from her two cousins, the other Ugly Ducklings Cecily and Madeline.
Alec, Lord Deveril, has secrets of his own dating back to his childhood with an abusive and dissolute parent. He finds himself attracted to the interesting Miss Shelby and steps in to protect her from society and her mother’s vitriol.  The relationship flowers and they end up involved in the search for a missing friend of Juliet’s and Alec becomes the caretaker of the friend’s infant child, Alice.
The book is based on an interesting premise. Deveril has had to rise above his father’s terrible reputation to remain in favor with society.  Juliet had had to conceal her physical nature to do the same but with much less success.  They both have had to deal with difficult family issues and find each other to be a compassionate friend that turns into much more.  Their relationship with the characters first introduced in “How to Dance with a Duke” adds to the likeability of both characters. The shrewish Amanda and Felicity from the first book also make trouble in this book as they did in the first. 
“How to Romance a Rake” is a sweet romance between two people who have had difficult family situations and have decided that love and marriage would not be in their future. Although they could both have become mean and self-pitying, they are both kind and empathic people who find each other and fill the missing parts of their hearts.  I can’t wait to see what happens with Madeline in the next book!

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