Series: Union of the Rakes, #1
Published by Avon on November 26, 2019
Genres: Historical, Romance
In the first book in Eva Leigh's new Union of the Rakes series, a bluestocking hires 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.
In exchange for funding his passage on an expedition leaving London in a few months, Sebastian allows Grace to 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 hired 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.
Wow. That was my first thought when I finished this book. Just… wow. This wasn’t my first book by Eva Leigh, but I haven’t read very many of them. I go through phases with historicals. I’ll read a ton of them for a little while, then I need to stop. I don’t know why, but it’s just how it goes. Books like this could change my mind and get me reading almost exclusively historicals.
Eva Leigh has mentioned many times that this series was inspired by the movies of the 80s, the movies she grew up watching. Here we have a little bit of The Breakfast Club, a little bit of Weird Science, a little bit of Some Kind of Wonderful, and probably a few other homages that I missed.
Lady Grace Wyatt and Sebastian Holloway were simply perfect together. Sebastian is already aware that he’s in love with Grace, and is willing to push himself far out of his comfort zone in order to prove it. Grace thinks she’s in love with Mason, and asks Sebastian to pretend to be interested in her in order to force Mason to notice her. I wasn’t completely sure I understood the thinking here, but it’s hard to deny that men absolutely want what they can’t have, so it’s not completely illogical. In order for this to become believable, Sebastian needs to have a Rachel Leigh Cook-level makeover, including taking off his glasses, updating his wardrobe, and teaching him how to act like a rake.
Look, part of enjoying this book is just letting go, suspending your disbelief, and getting sucked into it. When Grace gives Sebastian a book on how gentlemen comport themselves, he ends up creeping people out because the book is a few decades old, and the advice woefully out of date. Sebastian may be oblivious to the outside world, almost hermiting himself in his home in an attempt to not have to interact with anyone, but Grace isn’t. There’s no real reason she shouldn’t have recognized how truly bizarre the behavior in this book would have been, but she doesn’t until a friend of Sebastian’s points it out to them. It’s no more believable that Sebastian is 10 times hotter by taking off his glasses than it is that any of a dozen teen girls from the 80s and 90s is, but you just have to go with it. This book is purely delightful, and I found myself thanking whatever is out there that it’s playoff season so I could just read in peace for a few hours.
Grab this one, (I mean, really, the cover alone should be enough to make you want to read it, in all its 80s glory), and settle in. It was a great way to start my 2020 reading!