A Rake's Vow, by Stephanie Laurens (Cynsters #2)

>> Thursday, November 13, 2003

Continuing with my reading / rereading of Stephanie Laurens' Bar Cynster series, I read A Rake's Vow (excerpt), which I hadn't read before. This is the 2nd book in the series.

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?
This was wonderful, even better than Devil's Bride. An A-.

Ok, first of all, the back blurb makes much emphasis on the "escaping the marriage wind blowing his way" theme, but I just didn't see that in the book. That is, yes, at the beginning Vane's not looking to marry, but neither is he one of those stereotypical romance heroes who for some (often trivial) reason, have vowed never to marry.

It didn't look all that good at first. I am sick of those judgemental heroines who hostilely disapprove of the hero before they even meet him. They are fond of making baseless blanket judgments, and really, they come across as idiots. So your dad was an "elegant gentleman" and he wasn't a very nice person. Thinking that every guy who dresses elegantly will therefore be a bastard is not an understandable conclusion, it's proof that your mind doesn't work very well! Luckily, Patience soon learns her lesson and becomes more tolerable as a result.

Vane I liked much better. At first, I found him a little too cool and controlled when he's with Patience, but he soon looses it, and can barely control himself when he's with her. That was fun ;-)

But the best thing is his behaviour once he proposes and Patience refuses him. Contrasting with Devil's behaviour, in Devil's Bride, Vane doesn't try to dictate to Patience, but to convince her to marry him. He doesn't even think of trying to force her or manipulate her or blackmail her. He realizes she must have some reason for her behaviour, plans to find out what it is and to somehow solve it. He even considers the possibility that he might fail, and that Patience won't change her mind, and he never contemplates forcing her even then. That shows respect for her, to my way of thinking, and I liked it.

Vane actually follows his strategy and wins Patience that way. He finds out her reasons, finds validity in them and takes action so that they aren't a concern any more. This isn't a situation where you have a winner and a loser (the latter in this kind of cases is usually the heroine, unfortunately), but one where both win.

As for Patience's actual reasons for not wanting to marry... well, they were valid, but it was a bit iffy that she wouldn't simply come clean with Vane and tell him what was going on. Even so, this was a romance I enjoyed.

The book was enhanced by a neat, intriguing little mystery, which captured my imagination almost as much as the romance itself. Romance novels usually have suspense subplots these days, not mysteries, and I much prefer the latter.

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