cover image When a Rake Falls

When a Rake Falls

Sally Orr. Sourcebooks Casablanca, $7.99 mass market (352p) ISBN 978-1-4926-0214-9

Orr’s second Regency romance (after The Rake’s Handbook) begins with a hot-air balloon ride and then descends into incoherence. Lord Boyce Parker is attempting to win a race that requires him to reach Paris from London; he rents the aeronautist Mountfloy’s balloon and is carried off with Mountfloy’s daughter, Eve, as his only companion. Eve, an aspiring scientist, finds the race nonsensical, but she’s determined to prove to her father that women can contribute to scientific inquiry. Unfortunately, after they crash-land in Sussex, various plot contrivances involving Eve’s father’s misogyny and Boyce’s family are handled without nuance. The inconsistent characterization of Boyce—charming friend one moment, total fool the next—leaves the central romance a mishmash of set pieces that never coheres. It’s refreshing that the lady is a logic-driven scientist and the gentleman an emotional beauty, but novelty is insufficient to carry the book. Agent: Nicole Resciniti, Seymour Agency. (Apr.)