2014 Winner — Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award — Romance
Intrigued by the title appearing as a background advertisement when I turned off my Kindle, but leery of losing another $3.99 to a disappointing book, The Bluestocking and the Rake was one of the novels I checked out when sampling KindleUnlimited. I’m glad I saved my money and so should you.
Starting with a great title and some sparkling energy between her main characters, The Bluestocking and the Rake begins well, but slowly derails as the story gains speed. Possessing too much plot by at least a third, the love story gets lost in the last half of the novel as new characters and background information arrive in an endless tumble.
Robert, Earl of Marcham is, at 36, tired of gadding about bedding beautiful women and carousing. He has decided to look for one special woman who can be his countess and continue the family line. This is all well and good, so he selects an appropriate candidate – one of the legion of pretty, young, almost always blond women who fulfill this role in historical romance – but cannot find it in himself to propose to her. At the same time, a thorn is driven into his side by a local bluestocking who has decided to hold him up quasi-anonymously as symbolic of all that is wrong with men of his station. Confronted by this grumpy spinster, Georgiana Blakelow, Robert is, as is the genre way of things, intrigued.
If The Bluestocking and the Rake had proceeded apace from this meet cute, it would have made sense. The tone established at the outset was light and fun, with strong supporting characters. Instead the good beginning was lost in increasingly complex machinations that sidelined this romance novel’s love story. Georgiana is guilty of a lot of comeheregoaway and Robert, after a thunderbolt moment not shared with the reader, continues to pursue her despite her repeated refusals to marry him and the mounting melodrama surrounding her. There are so many layers of relationships and contrivances that The Bluestocking and the Rake read like two years’ worth of soap opera plot in a 300 page book.