30 June 2009

Bar Cynster Challenge: A Rake's Vow

~click on the cover to buy a copy~
Mass Market Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: Avon (October 1, 1998)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0380794578
ISBN-13: 978-0380794577

Summary:

He vowed he'd never marry:
Vane Cynster always knew which way the wind was blowing, and it was headed in a marrying direction. The other Cynster men might not mind stepping up to the altar, but Vane never wanted to be leg-shackled to any woman, no matter how comely. Bellamy Hall seemed like the perfect place to temporarily hide from London's husband hunters. But when he encountered irresistilbe Patience Debbington, Vane realized he'd met his match and soon he had more than seduction on his mind.

She vowed no man would catch her:
Patience wasn't about to succumb to Vane's sensuous propositions. Yes, his kisses left her dizzy; his caresses made her melt; but he was arrogant, presumptuous...and, despite his protests, bound to be unfaithful, just like every other man. Patience had promised herself that she'd never become vulnerable to a broken heart. But was this one vow that was meant to be broken?

Introduction:
Eleven years ago Vane’s story saw the light of day and I was still unaware of the Cynsters at that point in my life. The world kept going, I got up to start the day, went to work and read in the free hours I had. That did not all suddenly change with the discovery of A Rake’s Vow at my local library. I remember falling for Vane and Patience and the mystery they had to unravel together and the memory of this novel was imbedded with a glowing sentiment. Now I am re-reading the first few Cynster stories, enjoying myself but with this entry in the series I was confronted with the fact how I changed and grew as a reader…

Beware of thunderstorms and beautiful ladies for it is proving to be disastrous to the marital status of any single Cynster man. This is something Vane is discovering while he is stranded at his godmother’s estate and with mysteries to uncover he decides to stay and investigate…

My third encounter with the Cynster family was a charming one but had a few hordes for me to take. The two most prominent ones were the plot and the pace of the story. The plot never gave me that impertinent drive to uncover the wrong doers, it felt a bit simplistic and only there for background purposes only.

With this the story failed to pick me up in the mystery, it made me hover at the edge instead of diving head on in the adventures and it slowed the pace. While I was occupied at the country it kept me invested with an intriguing cast of characters, only then I was taken to London. With its inevitable Cynster family balls and etiquette it gave me another horde to take as I am not a fan of this kind of setting. What was there plot wise faded even more to the background and lost more ground with me to be picked up in the end for the conclusion of it all.

It feels much of the story reveals itself on the estate of Lady Amarinta Bellemy, aka Minnie. There the supporting cast of characters are consumed by the mystery of disappearing items ranging from worthless jewelry to needle cushions and it gave me the feel of joining in a game of cluedo. One thing’s for sure, the butler didn’t do it. Instead of a detective we get a smart Cynster who offers to investigate and in the mean time puts a seduction scheme in motion for a beautiful, strong-willed lady of the house. Because from the moment Vane crosses paths with Patience he knows she will be his. And when a Cynster man knows, come hell or high water, he will do anything in his power to make it a reality.

Patience is a woman who is protective of her younger brother Gerrard, has an iron will and pride to match. Most of all though she has a deep rooted aversion to handsome and charming men. So upon meeting Vane all her red flags go up and is in no way going to succumb to his charm.

Vane is instinctive, easy going, the certainty of his victory gives him an inborn arrogance he carries well without becoming over bearing. It is both seductive and aggravating for any woman and so very Cynster. Yet like any of his family he also values family, home and hearth and will do anything to protect that.

A Rake’s Vow is spiced up with some erotically charged scenes, which contributed to the vibrant chemistry between Vane and Patience. Add wonderful back and forth retorts between them and the romance became the best asset in this story. Because the heat does burn between Vane and Patience, and it ignites a classic seduction scheme that was just juicy to read. They bicker, they kiss, they argument some more, they try to match each other in intellect and passion and gave me a good time. One particularly scene in the greenhouse made the pages go up in flames, a step up in sensuality for Laurens and what I was used to in the previous two novels.

There is a tight group of additional characters, from Minnie who charitably took in various family members like the General, Agatha Chadwick , Edmund Montrose, Whittecombe and the young Angela and Gerrard. They provide the story with amusement and a hint of mystery but none, except Gerrard, truly stick out. He still has that young exuberance and combined with his artistic talents I will not be surprised if Laurens gives him his own story someday. Of course there are the Cynster family members and I liked to see Devil and Honoria again.

A Rake’s Vow proved to me how important the characterization is of the leading romantic male and female. Vane and Patience carried the entire story with an abundance is chemistry, sensuality and Vane’s proclamation of his I love you was just the cherry on the cake for me. It rounded the romance to a full bodied experience that lingered after I closed the book. It also made me realize how I changed as a reader, what is important to me now and what was important to me in my mid-twenties. With every Cynster novel I seem to discover something that turns this challenge in to a diverse and interesting one. I am looking forward to Richard aka Scandal who is next and will take me to Scotland.

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7 comments:

  1. Gosh, I loved Stephanie Laurens back in the day but I haven't read any of her books in years. I remember liking this one a lot.

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  2. That's what I am faced with, I loved this series in my mid-twenties, but only read the first 5 or so as they were translated in Dutch. They always remained in my mind as wonderful reads but with re-reading ARV 8 years later I just couldn't get over the fact how basic the plot was though I did not remember it as being so.

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  3. Great Review Leontine!

    I attempted a Stephanie Laurens a few years ago and was hugely disappointed. I wasn't even able to finish it. The book was 'A Perfect Bride'. Since then I've been very gun shy where she's concerned. And while 'A Rakes Vow' sounds good, I don't think its my cuppa.

    Thanks for the recommendation!

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  4. I read this early twenties and remember the thrill of it - but some how it just feels flat now..

    not sure if I am getting older or I have read so much - I tend to be more critical of books I loved in the past..

    Good review - you have summed up this book up just right..

    E.H>

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  5. Great review Leontine!!!
    I will have to keep this one in mind when I head out!!
    Thanks for the rec.
    I hope you have a wonderful day tomorrow!!

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  6. Wonderful review but then again I've loved all your reviews that I've read on here. Your very indepth, to the point and know how to get to the heart of a book.

    On another note I've nominated you for an award. See this post for details: http://ladyvampire2u.blogspot.com/2009/07/ive-been-awarded.html

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  7. Hi all,
    LadyVampire2u, thank you for the award!

    With Laurens it is my sentimental feelings of reading this book for the first time that clashes with the actual reading of it now. Though I did not have this problem with Elizabeth Lowell and her medieval trilogy.I try to take into account these books have been published a while ago and review fairly with both pros and cons.

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