I don’t know what I was browsing on Twitter, but it was something to do with romance novels. But it lead to a life-changing event. I’m no longer hiding my romance novels on my Kindle. Go paperback of go home. (Kidding. I’ll still do ebook pretty often. Read on to find out why!)
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During my tweeting, I stumped upon author Eva Leigh. She shared that her book My Fake Rake, the first in The Union of the Rakes series, is just $4.99 in mass market paperback – cheaper than the Kindle edition!! I’m all about romance novels, and very all about saving a few dollars, so I added it to my cart and it was delivered to me for free shipping thanks to the powers of Prime – Amazon, not Optimus.
And reader, those small, traditional romance paperbacks are now going to crowd my bookshelves. If I can snag one for less than the Kindle edition, I sure will. The covers are pretty and the smell of the page is even prettier. So why not save a few dollars? Sure, everyone sees what I’m reading, but I want to end the stigma surrounding romance novels anyway!
Okay, on to the book.
The summary, from Amazon:
“[A] feast of female empowerment, positive friendships, feel-good moments, and social satire.” — NPR
“A jolt of electricity, a blast of fresh air—everything delightful and exciting you could want it to be.” — The New York Times Book Review
In the first book in Eva Leigh’s new Union of the Rakesseries, a bluestocking enlists a faux suitor to help her land an ideal husband only to be blindsided by real desire…
Lady Grace Wyatt is content as a wallflower, focusing on scientific pursuits rather than the complications of society matches. But when a handsome, celebrated naturalist returns from abroad, Grace wishes, for once, to be noticed. Her solution: to “build” the perfect man, who will court her publicly and help her catch his eye. Grace’s colleague, anthropologist Sebastian Holloway, is just the blank slate she requires.
To further his own research on English society, Sebastian agrees to let Grace transform him from a bespectacled, bookish academic into a dashing—albeit fake—rake. Between secret lessons on how to be a rogue and exaggerated public flirtations, Grace’s feelings for Sebastian grow from friendship into undeniable, inconvenient, real attraction. If only she hadn’t asked him to help her marry someone else…
Sebastian is in love with brilliant, beautiful Grace, but their bargain is complete, and she desires another. Yet when he’s faced with losing her forever, Sebastian will do whatever it takes to tell her the truth, even if it means risking his own future—and his heart.
This book is an obvious play on My Fair Lady/Pygmalion. Grace and Sebastian are friends who agree to a fake relationship, hoping to attract the attention of Grace’s crush, Mason. Meanwhile, Sebastian has to brush up on his social niceties to become a fake rake, which will help him to write an anthropological text on British high society. He also has to overcome some major social anxiety to get there.
These two nerds are fabulous, and I didn’t find them to be remotely awkward. Grace is twenty-six and knows she was awkward in her youth, but embraces her nerdiness and spinsterhood now. Seb is athletic, smart, and socially anxious, but willing to overcome that to help Grace out. There’s an attraction between them that’s never been acknowledged, and being in such close proximity now brings it to light.
This book is a slowwwww burn. We get a hot kissing scene halfway through, but of course, our hero and heroine chalk it up to acting on the other’s part. Finally, their relationship is consummated, only for a few chapters of angst to follow before they get together. Angst/misunderstandings between partners in the final arc isn’t my favorite in romances, but this was such a lovely novel and it made sense with the plot.
— winebrarian (@bitchbookshelf) April 8, 2020
My Fake Rake also had the added bonus of being super feminist. Grace gets hers in all of the love scenes, and though she’s never had partnered sex (expected for an unmarried lady of the times), she doesn’t do the whole, “virgin” thing. Before having sex with Sebastian, she says she has done it before – just with herself. Seb and Grace are aware of their privilege and use it to lift others up. Grace and her friends share lovely moments.
The real feminist kicker is the friendship scenes with Seb and his squad. They’re introduced in the beginning with a Breakfast Club inspired scene, which is awesome. Their adult conversations show that they respect women and understand their privilege as men in society, and how they should use it to help women. They also eschew masculine stereotypes, even when it makes them feel a little uncomfortable due to years of internalizing societal beliefs, and hug it out when necessary. It’s uplifting, sweet, and a great example of what male friendship ought to be.
Overall, this was a 5 star read for me. Book 2 comes out the day before my birthday, and stars the main side character of this one, Sebastian’s BFF Rotherby. Rotherby presents as this wonderfully vain, confident leader, and the blurb/Eva Leigh’s tweets suggest he’s sexually submissive. We don’t see this a lot from men in hetero romance, so I am PUMPED. Preorder Would I Lie to the Duke here!
Historical romance is following the suit of the moderns and skewing feminist AF. This one matches Evie Dunmore’s release from the same year for me!
Slow burn. Intersectional feminism. A charming heroine and hero and some side characters I’m excited to read more about. Steamy sex scenes (when we finally get them). There’s some high angst in the last arc, which is not my favorite, but overall this was an excellent read about two nerds who just want the other to be happy. There are some sweet depictions of friendships between women, and OOOOOOOOH BOY the friendships between men shit on toxic masculinity. Oh yeah, and it starts off with a Breakfast Club reference. Can’t beat it.
This is a gender-swapped play on My Fair Lady/Pygmalion. I see a few bad reviews saying this plot has been written before but like… The blurb contains the plot? Why read it if you don’t want to?
I can’t wait for Book 2 and more feminist heroes and heroines in 2020!!
P.S. I like to read my romances and prefer nonfiction audiobooks, but different strokes for different folks, right? I love Audible, and if you like audiobooks and romance, I suggest you try the Audible Romance Free Trial. Get unlimited listening free for one month. Who doesn’t like free?
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