After Dark With A Scoundrel
by Alexandra Hawkins, historical (2011)
St Martin's Press, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-312-38126-4
After Dark With A Scoundrel has one thing going for it: the hero is a self-proclaimed rake, who together with his fellow degenerates make up the Lords of Vice, and he spends the whole thing behaving like a degenerate ignorable twit with no sense of honor. The hero, Dare, is exactly what is advertised on the box. This is a case of getting what you wish for - you want a rake, here's a rake, heh.
Okay, brace yourself, because the hero, Lord Hugh Mordare, is called "Dare". He and his friends Reign, Sin, Syphilis, Herpes, and a few more blokes call themselves, without any hint of irony, the Lords of Vice. You'd think they stage Bacchanalian orgies or sacrifice virgins to the Devil, but no, these guys just like to stick it to anything that moves while insisting that females related to them to stay at home and remain pure forever. Frankly, I think this series would be far less cringe-inducing if the Lords of Vice were a rock band.
Regan Bishop, our heroine, has been in love with her brother's best friend Dare ever since... well, forever. Yes, it's that story. You know it, I'm sure. They were caught kissing a while back by her brother Frost (a cheesy nickname is a must to be a Lord of Vice) and she was banished to a boarding school. Well now she's back and she's determined to seduce Dare into marrying him via the tried and tested "give the milk away for free" method. Seriously, what did they teach this wench in that school again? Dare takes what is given, of course, but spends the whole book moaning that he can't bear to love again because his father was a lunatic, so was his ex-girlfriend, and a few other reasons to excuse his actions. Finally, he comes to his senses and marry that stupid girlfriend of his, the end. But there are plenty of navel gazing, whining, and filler scenes to pad the pages until that point.
Both main characters behave like hormonal twits with barely adequate intelligence. While the need to protect Regan from scandal comes up now and then - usually for the sake of conflict - our characters on the whole behave without any care for propriety or even unplanned pregnancies. These antics may be amusing were I probably a few decades younger and therefore were more tolerant of them, but now I just feel old and tired reading about such shenanigans.
Still, as I've said earlier, I quite admire Ms Hawkins's guts to deliver a rake that is exactly what he is advertised to be. Dare is someone who deflowers a virgin without wanting to pay the piper, and readers expecting the tame sort of rakes typically found in this kind of stories may be taken aback by his behavior. For me, it's too bad that both he and the girlfriend fail to become even halfway interesting in this silly story of two hormonal fools running around all over the place.
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