NEVER KISS A RAKE by Anne Stuart

never kiss a rakePUBLISHING INFO: Montlake Romance, 8/2013
GENRE: Historical Romance
SETTING: England, 1869
SERIES: Scandal at the House of Russell, book 1

From Publisher: Bryony Russell and her two sisters are left destitute by the disgrace and unexpected death of their father, a wealthy shipping magnate. He left a cryptic note, and Bryony is determined to find the real villain and clear her father’s name. In disguise as a servant, Bryony infiltrates the home of her father’s business partner to find proof of his guilt…or innocence. It’s not just clues that Bryony finds, but temptation too…

Adrian Bruton, Earl of Kilmartyn, immediately suspects there is something not quite right about his new housekeeper. The brooding, irresistible rake plays along because he has his own guilty secrets, and his venal, scheming wife holds the key to them, trapping him in a hate-filled marriage. But against his will he’s fascinated by Bryony, seeing past the scars on her face to show her the beauty she never knew she had. Bryony must uncover the truth and attempt to preserve her father’s legacy, before things go too far and she falls in love with a man who might very well be her worst enemy.

MY THOUGHTS: This is the first book in a trilogy involving the three Russell sisters. All three books are connected by them trying to find out all the facts about their father's murder and who stole his money. I don't see this as straight up historical romance but more as romantic suspense.

The Irish hero, Adrian, has golden hair and green eyes. Someone's out to frame him for murder and embezzlement. Adrian has been married for almost ten years to Cecily, a woman he despises. He was involved with a bombing that killed people years ago. She knows he's behind it and is using that information against him. Cecily herself is a terrible person, it turns out, and there's a mystery involving her whereabouts. We don't see much of her in the book.

I like Adrian a lot. He's taken a liking to Bryony and let's her know he's interested, even after he discovers who she really is. She wants nothing to do with him in that way since she suspects he's killed her father and has stolen lots of money from his business, Russell Shipping. He tries to seduce her constantly. There are three sex scenes with them. I found the way he kept after her funny and entertaining.

There's a bad male character in this book who's out to murder Bryony for a really stupid reason. He's got a grudge against her because he thinks her father stole his family home, Renwick, when in actuality he won it fair and square. This character's behind a lot of bad happenings. I like him anyway. He's not very bright, lurking around the Bruton home knowing he might be seen by the servants.

I wasn't surprised to find out who was behind the stuff involving her father and the disappearance of Cecily. I wish the author could have been a bit more creative in that regard. I'd have liked to have known more about him and how he met Cecily in the first place.

I don't know Adrian or Bryony's ages and I don't know anything about Adrian's background either. No background information on hero and heroine is a huge no-no!

I enjoyed this book as much as I'd hoped I would and I'm anxious to read the next in the series, Never Trust a Pirate.

I received this from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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