A Rake Worth Reading; Why you should fall for Merrick St. Magnus this September!
It might be cooling down outside, but between the covers of “How to Disgrace a Lady” things are starting to heat up! Merrick St. Magnus is the first of three new heroes in my latest Harlequin Historical series; Rakes Beyond Redemption, ‘too wicked for polite society.’
Merrick has always lived scandalously but now he’s been caught compromising an earl’s daughter and he’s going to have to pay; either bring her up to snuff and make her the Toast of the Season in order to find her an eligible husband or face the prospect of marrying her himself. Such a task would be easier if the woman in question, Alixe Burke, would cooperate. But Alixe has no intentions of making his task an easy one. Merrick has to pull out all the charm he can manage in order to escape the parson’s mousetrap only to discover this is one trap he might be willing to spring.
Romantic Times calls “How to Disgrace a Lady,” riveting and enthralling with witty characters and dialogue and gives it four stars. Mills and Boon names it the Editors Pick of the month. It’s a fun story. The dialogue is clever—these are smart people talking to each other. One of them is bookish smart, the other is socially smart and that makes them bold in their own ways. The scenes have an escalating quality to them. The harder Merrick charms, the harder Alixe pushes back. At one point, he steals all her clothes. In retaliation, Alixe secretly pulls the stitches out of his shirt so that is falls apart when he puts it on. There are some good laughs to be had while these two fall in love.
However, do be warned. This story is more than a house party romp. The tag line on the back cover, ‘too wicked for polite society,’ is not just a fancy attention grabber. Merrick is too wicked for polite society and the reader gets to see that. For some readers, it may be too real, and that’s okay. I wanted to create a rake that was a bit beyond the standard historical rogue and I wanted readers to see it on the pages not just have it inferred because he looked at the heroine with hot eyes. Merrick is the archetypal ludus lover—the person who perceives that what love is, is a game.
Here’s a brief crash course in ludus love. Ludus lovers believe love is a game and like with any game, there are rules. The better one knows the rules, the better one can play. Ludus lovers tend to have short term relationships because relationships should always end when they’re ahead. The longer one stays in a relationship, the more likely it is that one will start to lose the advantage.
Love, or what passes for it, is Merrick’s game and he plays it well. He wagers on who he can bed and he keeps score. But, he never plays with women who don’t understand the rules. He does limit his pursuits to the demimonde and those women of the ton who understand those rules as well. He does not abuse the innocence of the ton’s virginal debutantes. He is not a wolf among sheep. For some, this hero’s attitude towards sex and women might be a bit rough even with that caveat. But it’s this roughness that makes his transformation one worth fighting for. True love finds him when and where he least expects it. And when it does, he is transformed from the inside out. For all his vaunted reputation, Merrick has some bigger mental issues to grapple with—he doesn’t trust love and he doesn’t think he’s worthy of it. His lifestyle to date affirms those conclusions quite readily. That Alixe finds him worth saving is absolutely mind boggling to him, almost beyond comprehension. It’s been ages since a woman has wanted anything but sex from him. It’s also quite a wake up call for him that even his friends suggest Alixe is out of his league, that she’s far too good for him. He could never have a decent woman. And that stings. Merrick gets a good look at how far he’s truly fallen and it’s a tough climb back, which I think makes Merrick a rake worth reading.
Ashe’s story, “How to Ruin a Reputation” is out in October, followed by Riordan’s story, “How to Sin Successfully,” in November. If you like the softer, playboy style rake, Riordan is your cup of tea. If you like rakes with a very sharp edge and truly jaded lifestyles, Merrick and Ashe are your men. If you like good men who break free from responsibility once in a while, check out their friend, Jamie Burke, in the Undone short “How to Live Indecently,” a Regency Ferris Bueller style short story about what happens when a gentleman steps off the verandah of a respectable ton ball and into the streets of London for an unforgettable evening.
I think that covers it—the new series gives you a rake for all seasons; edgier dark heroes, one good gentleman and a playboy. I hope you find at least one you fall in love with, but you’ll never know until you read them all!
Stop by my blog at http://www.bronwynswriting.blogspot.com for Rakes Beyond Redemption trivia and giveaways throughout the fall and I’ll see you out there!