Author: Sherrill Bodine
Page Count: 177
Published: Diversion Books, December 1st, 2013
The Rake’s Redemption is a story about finding love for the second time, it is about facing your past and moving on to your future. I could say all this because it is about all those things, unfortunately though, it falls short in making me feel them. Those are just the conclusions I drew in the end of the story, like when I was in high school and we were required to read a book and give a brief summary about what it was talking about. I’d read the book, but then I wouldn’t exactly connect with it further than was necessary for my homework. It’s a shame though, because the storyline was promising and a particular subplot was most interesting.
Juliana Grenville is a widow, albeit a young one of twenty three. She’s met her husband when she was young and they enjoyed a very short marriage of one month before he perished at war six years ago. Now she passes her time taking care of her home and her brother, but in order to relieve her brother of the responsibility of caring for a young widowed sister, she wishes to marry another widower like herself, preferably with kids. So she plots to travel to London with her aunt. There she meets Dominic, Marquis of Aubrey, who’s a rake, but also somewhat of a mystery. He’s most definitely what she is not looking for in a husband, and yet the heart wants what it wants, and before they-and us- know it, they find themselves falling in love and facing their unique obstacles in order to end up happy together.
Let me emphasize that I actually liked this plot. It was engaging enough to make me start reading the book, and the rest of the plot that revealed itself towards the middle was good also, the only problem was the execution. I felt as if I was only told of the beginning, the middle and the end of the story, and the rest was just a few scattered dots that I had to connect whilst reading. Now I know this was a novella, but it was still one hundred something pages and it could’ve told more, given me more detail instead of jumping from one situation to the next without giving me the complete picture.
The dialogue style, I must say, was not one I’m used to reading in historicals. I never witnessed how they speak in those times naturally-hopefully I’ll remedy that once they invent the time machine- but it didn’t seem to me like it flowed naturally. It felt more like I was watching a play instead of reading a novella.
And since we’re speaking of dialogue, the jump between points of view of the characters could’ve been made clearer, perhaps, with a new paragraph. In more than one occasion I had to go back and make sure whose point of view I was reading from, and that took from the flow of the story.
Dominic and Juliana were likable enough, but not, to engage me fully into their adventure. And that may be because I never got the chance to fully know them. Don’t get me wrong, we were given every information about them that was needed to know who Dominic and Juliana are, but they were bits scattered all over, and I had a devil of a time of picking them up.
Their love was, sadly, the same for me. When we’re being told from the point of view of the hero, the heroine is some sort of an angel because that’s what he’s told from the numerous beautiful and heartfelt stories of his friend and comrade, Juliana’s dead husband. Too bad we never had a chance to hear those stories ourselves through the magic of flashbacks, because then maybe I would’ve been able to believe them myself. This vision Dominic had of Juliana, her being an anchor, a wonderful lively human being seemed unconvincing from where I stood. A short dialogue, an italic flashback that I’d bravely take on, would’ve gone a much longer way in convincing me that it was thoughts of Juliana, this lovely woman described and so adored by another man, that got him through the ugliness and desperation of war.
And I’m sorry, but I didn’t get Dominic’s whole ‘I can never get her’, ‘She’s most definitely off limits’ attitude. Why was that so? Was she loved by a close relative, the most dramatic choice being a brother? No. Or perhaps by a best friend whom Dominic was duty bound to not touch his beloved? Again, no. Well, we know Dominic served with Juliana’s dead husband at some point, and apparently they spent enough time for this man to share tales of Juliana with him, but there was no concrete proof in the story that said this man was his best friend, or someone to evoke such a devotion that Dominic would feel so guilty over loving his widow. I just couldn’t buy his reasoning regarding this.
One final thought is that the grand secret, another wall that stood between Juliana and Dominic, came down in such an anticlimactic way, and dealt with so easily, that it disappointed me greatly. I won’t spoil it, but it was a a matter that could’ve tipped the scales for the story, it needed more on page time, and much more consideration than that was given to it for the characters to get over. It was finally something in the book that interested me, and it was over before it even began, so to speak. This, with the lack of the one character that succeeded in piquing my curiosity, has led to a dull ending.
Now, a part of me does wonder about that one character, and since I don’t believe in abandoning an author after just one book, I think I might go hunting in the future in the hopes that his story will be more satisfactory. In the meantime, Dominic and Juliana’s story didn’t exactly catch my interest, but I’m sure it can still be enjoyed by die hard historical romance fans.
I’m putting two spoonfuls of this novella into my hodgepodge.
More books by Sherrill Bodine:
- The Christmas Ball
- My Lord’s Lady
- The Duke’s Deceit
- A Soldier’s Heart
- Scandal’s Child