I know, so many blog tours this week! But I’m delighted it’s my turn on the tour for The Good Girl’s Guide to Rakes, because this is a very fun historical romance that’s (whisper it) ideal for fans of the Netflix Bridgerton.
Book: The Good Girl’s Guide to Rakes by Eva Leigh
Publication date: 22nd February 2022
Ownership: Review copy sent free of charge by Mills and Boon. All opinions my own.
Content warnings: parental neglect/emotional abuse
When Kieran Ransome’s latest antics result in scandal, his father issues an ultimatum: find a respectable wife or inherit nothing. But as one of London’s most notorious scoundrels, Kieran doesn’t know any ladies who fit the bill… or does he?
Celeste Kilburn is a society darling, beloved by influential members of the ton. But keeping a spotless reputation leaves little room for adventure and she longs to escape her gilded cage. When Kieran, her brother’s best friend, begs for her help Celeste makes a deal: she will introduce him to the right social circles if he’ll show her the scandalous side of London!
Amongst ‘proper’ garden parties and, equally enthralling, wild fêtes and sensual art salons an initial attraction builds to a more tempting desire. But when their midnight exploits are discovered, Celeste’s freedom and reputation are at risk and Kieran must save the woman he loves… respectable or not.
Eva Leigh’s books are always a brilliantly fun time. I will say that I don’t recommend them to people who are sticklers for historical accuracy, because her characters have very modern attitudes and her setting definitely has more in common with Netflix’s Bridgerton than a classic period drama – perhaps more concerned with style, fun, and sexiness than etiquette and bonnets. If I tell you the hero wears eyeliner on at least one occasion, that should give you everything you need to know about this book… And I – the notorious historical stickler – love it! Like the fabulous Union of the Rakes series (reviews here and here) which came before it, The Good Girl’s Guide to Rakes is a joyfully exuberant romp of a romance – and every so often, that’s exactly what I want!
This is a twist on the classic brother’s-best-friend romance, which is always a favourite of mine – Celeste and Kieran have been suppressing their attraction to one another for a long time, which means there’s already a whole lot of tension bubbling between them by the time they strike their dangerous bargain. The chemistry between them is apparent from the get-go, and of course, this being an Eva Leigh book, there’s plenty of sexually-charged situations that force them to wrestle down their feelings, until it all becomes too much and the sparks really fly.
I loved the dynamic between these two – it’s the perfect mix of wild attraction and genuine, gentle care. I particularly liked the way this played out in Kieran’s perspective, because it reveals a very sweet and protective core under his roguish exterior – a true rake with a heart of gold! I also loved Celeste’s character arc, as she learns to break out of the mould of ‘perfect society daughter’ that she’s been forced into. Identity, and the hiding of it, is a real theme of this book, both in the obvious sense, with Celeste donning the disguise of ‘Salome’ to experience Kieran’s wild party world, but also in a more subtle sense, as both leads realise that the personality they’ve been presenting to the world is not truly their own. This of course means there are some really romantic moments when each feels truly seen by the other; it also allows for some interesting commentary on the roles that both women and men had to play in Regency society.
This is just such a wonderfully escapist read. I’m really excited for the rest of the Last Chance Scoundrels series – I’m not sure if it’s going to be a trilogy or a quartet, as there are three more single characters in the cast, but I don’t know if two of them are going to be paired off with each other… But if you’re in the mood for an irrepressibly fun, arch, and sexy historical romance, you should definitely check this out! Four out of five cats!