The Art of Taming a Rake

Nicole Jordan. Ballantine, $7.99 mass market (400p) ISBN 978-0-553-39255-5

Jordan’s fourth Legendary Lovers Regency (after Secrets of Seduction) is a sweet and tender romance with a perfect blend of adventure and mystery. Venetia Stratham visits the most notorious sin club in London to get proof that Quinn Wilde, the Earl of Traherne—the man rumored to be in romantic pursuit of her sister, Ophelia—is a “rake of the first order.” Over the next several days their encounters involve scintillating bantering, kisses, and dodging some mysterious attempts on Quinn’s life from unknown assailants. In short order, Quinn decides that the only way to protect Venetia from his enemies—and to reassure her that he’ll never pursue Ophelia—is to propose to her. Venetia is left wondering just how to tame her husband the rake, a task complicated by her growing affection for him. Jordan deftly interweaves the development of the romance and the slow revelation of clues about who’s behind the attempts on Quinn’s life. The repartee between the two protagonists—both of whom are struggling to stay detached—is engaging verbal foreplay that captures the heat of their physical attraction to each other. The characterization is rich, and it develops naturally through evocative dialogue and actions. The interaction between characters also highlights the ways that their emotions are ruled by social demands, and readers will yearn for the lovers to at last be able to devote their sincere and thoughtful attention to each other, instead of having to contend with the need to preserve their social standing. Agent: Karen Solem, Spencerhill Associates. (Jan.)