RAKES AND ROSES, by Josi S. Kilpack, Shadow Mountain, May 5, 2020, Paperback, $15.99 (young adult/ new adult/ adult fiction)
Rakes and Roses is the third installment of Josi S. Kilpack’s Mayfield Family Romance series.
The series, which also includes Promises and Primroses and Daisies and Devotion, follows the extended family of Lord Elliott Mayfield. Lord Mayfield has spent considerable time and money looking after his siblings and their children. But the younger generation has failed to learn from their predecessors’ bad choices, and Lord Mayfield is through with watching them throw their lives away. In hopes of securing a better future for his nieces and nephews, Lord Mayfield comes up with a “marriage campaign” to motivate them to make good matches.
In Rakes and Roses, readers are introduced to Lady Sabrina, an intelligent woman whose life didn’t turn out exactly how she envisioned. Sabrina wed for security and ended up in an abusive marriage instead. After a miscarriage and early widowhood, she’s made herself into a successful woman living in a man’s world. Despite her success, she knows she will never have a family of her own.
Lord Mayfiled’s nephew Harry Stillman is a rake who has a penchant for gambling. Harry could have had a bright future, but he’s squandered it. Now, with nothing left, he turns to the mysterious Lord Damion for financial backing to repay his debts. There’s a catch, though — he’s got to reform or he’ll lose everything. But before he can even begin to make amends, Harry is attacked and left for dead in an alley.
It’s Sabrina who happens upon Harry after the attack. She remembers him coming to her aid six years prior and decides to bring him back to her estate to heal. Over the next few weeks, a friendship develops that could become something more, if only Sabrina weren’t keeping secrets of her own.
While each of the Mayfield Family Romance books are standalone, it is helpful to at least read Promises and Primroses before the others. It sets up the “marriage campaign,” which is the thread that binds the books together.
While none of the books in this series are for the YA market per say, Shadow Mountain’s Proper Romance line, particularly its Regency Romances, fall in line with the sort of Jane Austen sensibilities that do appeal to young adults.
Of all the books in the Mayfield series, Rakes and Roses probably skews the oldest based solely on Lady Sabrina’s age. I don’t think this is necessarily a problem for younger readers, but I would suggest they read the series in order nonetheless.
Rakes and Roses is told from both Lady Sabrina and Harry’s points of views. Both of the characters are well-developed, but I ultimately found Harry — with all of his flaws — a more enjoyable character. There were times when Lady Sabrina felt more like the character she was “expected” to be rather than the one she was “supposed” to be.
My favorite book in the series is still Daisies and Devotion, but Rakes and Roses is a strong addition nonetheless.
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