I had an enormous amount of fun with the first two books in the Union of the Rakes series, and the final book does not disappoint!
Book: Waiting for a Scot Like You by Eva Leigh
Ownership: E-ARC sent free of charge via NetGalley; paperback was a birthday gift. All opinions my own.
Content warnings: minor violence (shooting guns, carriage accident); depiction of PTSD.
Beatrice Sloane, the Countess of Farris, is a free-spirited widow. After a stultifying marriage, she is now wealthy and independent and determined to stay so. Wherever she goes, a good time is sure to follow!
Captain Duncan McCameron struggles to find a purpose for himself now that the war is over. Discovering his sweetheart had married another whilst he was at war means he’s kept himself closed off from love.
Entrusted to escort Lady Farris to her friend’s estate, these two opposites start on a journey that ultimately involves carriage crashes, secret barn dances, robbers, and an inn with only one bed! But as tensions dissolve into passion, can there be a future for an adventure-loving lady and a duty-bound soldier, or will their differences tear them apart?
The Union of the Rakes series is Eva Leigh’s Regency take on 80s movies, and I’ve had a brilliant time with all three! This book asks a very important question: what if Andrew from The Breakfast Club got dragged on an adventure with a gender-swapped Ferris Bueller, and they fell in love? This is a fast-paced, action-packed road trip story full of misadventures and only-one-beds, and it’s just hugely fun. Here, Duncan McCameron, an uptight ex-soldier, falls head over heels for charming, adventurous widow Beatrice, even though she’s older than him, drives him mad, and is literally headed to an orgy. There’s no surprises where the story is going, but there are plenty of surprises in how they get there!
As with previous books (see my review Would I Lie to the Duke), hardcore historians might be better giving this series a swerve. I’m more than happy suspending disbelief at historical accuracy if I’m having enough fun, but if you’re a real stickler for the facts then this is not going to be one for you. Specifically, I’m not at all sure the ending made sense from a real-world perspective, but this series is more about escapism, and it pulls that off with panache. Every page of this book is a romp – though there is real character development, it’s done with such a lighthearted, deft touch that it flows effortlessly amongst the chaos of the action. I’m much more of a practical Duncan than an impulsive Beatrice, so I found myself firmly agreeing with him towards the start of the book that she was a bit too silly; however, once I got inside her head and learned her reasons for her behaviour, I found her much more sympathetic too. There were some hints in the previous book that these two had sparks flying between them (when is constant bickering not a prelude to falling in love, in romance?), and it’s clear from the moment they begin spending time together that there’s a strong attraction underneath that mutual annoyance, which is one of my favourite tropes in historical romance!
There’s also something of a resolution to the romantic arcs for the remaining two members of the Union, Rowe and Curtis: their love story together has previously been hinted at, and it’s a satisfying subplot here. I loved the inclusion of a gay couple, but can’t help but be disappointed that this wasn’t a separate fourth book of its own, as I think it would have been so enjoyable. (I fear that it was less that the author didn’t have a story to tell for them, and more that mainstream historical romance publishers don’t want series with a mixture of straight and queer relationships; there’s certainly a thriving indie market for m/m and f/f historical romance! I’m hopeful that the upcoming The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Erica Ridley (an f/f romance where the first book in the series was m/f) will be the beginning of a wave of allowing these stories to be told alongside m/f romance. They’re just as valid and enjoyable.) Long side note about the state of the genre aside, I really loved the way each member of the Union was brought into this story. It’s a nice summation of the series.
I think you’ll already know from the get-go if this is the kind of book you’re going to enjoy or not, so I won’t say much more. It’s an utter romp, and I had a brilliant time reading. This series is going to stay a favourite, and I recommend it to anyone who likes their historical romance joyously fun and a little bit tongue in cheek. Four out of five cats!