Saturday, May 12, 2007

I’ll Take That Rake

Seductive, smoldering, sensual…a rake is one of the easiest characters to find in historical romance, and I, for one, am happy about that. There’s nothing I love more than a jaded seducer meeting his match, whether it’s with an innocent debutante, a bookish spinster, or an experienced widow. But the term rake seems to be too liberally applied – sometimes it seems as if almost every hero who isn’t noticeably awkward is referred to as a rake. To me it feels like the term “rake” should only apply to only the most elite of the sensual heroes. Granted, in the universe of each book, the rake in question might be the only one to whom the term applies. But in my head, the place where all historicals set within a certain two hundred year period get mushed together, I’m often tripping over rakes right and left.

Don’t get me wrong – as I said before I love a rakish hero. But unlike having the plethora of dukes, earls, and viscounts in novels (which I also love even though there couldn’t possibly have been even a fraction of that number running around), I don’t think just any hero should be termed a rake. They’re the bad boys of romance – the ones the good girls want even though they know they shouldn’t. The ones with seemingly untouchable hearts who can only be tamed by the right woman – that’s what makes their stories so exciting. To me, the true rakes are the darkly seductive types, like Sebastian St. Vincent in Lisa Kleypas’s Devil in Winter. Jaded players like the Earl of Mayne in Eloisa James’s Pleasure for Pleasure. And the smoldering tempters like John Grayston, Viscount Rochdale in Candice Hern’s upcoming Lady Be Bad. These are the rakes that deserve the title, and no, because I hate book-bashing I won’t list the ones I think do not.

So for this week I leave you with these questions:
Do you love a rakish hero?
Do you think the description is too liberally applied?
And, most importantly, who are your favorite rakes?

And for those of you who’re fans of the non-rakes, never fear. They’ll get love in my next post :)


Marg said...

I do think that the term rake is applied to liberally to just about any unmarried man, especially a gentleman of the ton. Having said that...I do love a good rake! Another one not on your list is Cyprian Sloane from Diane Gaston's The Reputable Rake. Then again he is not only rake, but spy as well, and is now trying to live a clean life in order to try and find a wife!

Lady V said...

I agree, "rake" is overused and usually in the broadest of terms. Like you've both said, it seems to pertain to any good looking, single gentleman of the ton. And as much as I love rakes, I have seen very few true rakes in books that I've read. The best so far, though, was Viscount Bonham in "Wicked Gentleman" by Jane Feather. He was obnoxiously arrogant and demanding and almost overbearing in his need for, um, release. :)

Anonymous said...

Ok, I came across your blog from the Julia Quinn/Eloisa James bulliten board and I have to say I couldn't agree with you more. It seems that every summary I read of a romance novel describes the hero as a rake. It's way too overused. When you mentioned Sebastion I nearly screamed! I loveeeeeeee him!!!!:) and I think you are right that he is one of the true rakes. The Devil in Winter is one of my favorite books ever. I love the fact that he's so sexy and wicked that you know he really is a rake, but in the end I feel like he really loves Evie:) I also think that Devon Boscastle from The Sinful Nights of a Nobleman and Adrian Ruxley from The Devilish Pleasures of a Duke(Both by Jillian Hunter) fit the build for a true rake. Both of those books are highly recommended. Oh I do love a good rake!:)