Rake I’d Like to F… is a collection of five stories set between the 1700s and 1800s. They all feature a rake that falls hard for the person(s) that completes their world. With mixed pairings and many erotic scenes set in historical times, it’s never been a better time to live the life of a rake.
Kris and Michelle divided up the stories and have written a buddy review for the anthology. The overall rating reflects their combined rating for the individual stories.
The Last Crimes of Peregrine Hind by Sierra Simone – 3.75 stars
Peregrine Hind is a legend, as he’s cultivated a reputation for being the most dangerous highwayman. After leaving the army, his family was in ruins and Peregrine has sought vengeance against the Dartham family, most specifically the Duke, for years. Peregrine has finally found his opening to claim his revenge, except he accidentally captures the wrong man — a son of the Dartham family, notorious rake, Alexander “Sandy” Dartham. Peregrine still wants to send a message to the family, but Sandy convinces him to take him hostage instead and claim a generous ransom. Peregrine thinks he has this all figured out, but he wasn’t ready for Sandy, who enjoys all the devilish things that Peregrine is prepared to lash out.
I liked the opening of this story, as we meet Peregrine and get caught up on his life as a notorious highwayman. It’s not easy for him to have any kind of relations due to his infamy, but meeting Sandy sets off all kinds of internal explosions for Peregrine. Sandy is wealthy and pampered and from a noble family and makes his own demands while being held captive. Peregrine knows he can never harm Sandy, but Sandy’s reactions to being tied up test all of the willpower that Peregrine has.
The men fall hard and fast, but there are many obstacles in their way. There is some character development, as they both evolve over the course of the story. There is mention of an “otherworld” here and there is not enough time to develop it and the story would have worked fine for me without this addition. There is also no mention of any issues with two men being together during this time. I liked the characters here and there was chemistry between them, but for a shorter story, the focus was split too much for my tastes. Sierra Simone is a favorite author of mine and while this story was enjoyable to read overall, it didn’t have the same effect as others I have read from the author.
Two Rakes for Mrs. Sparkwell by Eva Leigh – 3.25 stars
Mrs. Vivian Sparkwell is newly widowed and is looking forward to a quiet life in the family’s country cottage. But due to the terms of her marriage contract that she was not aware of, Vivian is unable to turn any reasonable offer of marriage or she will lose her widow’s payment. However, if she is “ruined” publicly, no one will want to marry her, so Vivian sets out to create a scandal with notorious rake, Rushton Cantley. Rush is not at all what Vivian expected and the two embark on an erotic scandal with an end date. But when Rush suggests his friend, gaming boxer, Jack Morgan, join them, Vivian is shocked, aroused, and losing her heart to two men.
In London 1767, Vivian has no say in her life. She married who she was told and now it seems she will have to marry again. But Vivian has no interest in this and thinks she wants a quiet life, perhaps with a book and a cat. Rush is known for his rakish ways and, at first glance, Rush has no interest in Vivian, who is completely out of place in the gaming hall. Rush had a bad experience with a woman, and he resolved that he was unlovable, so now he fills his bed but not his heart. Jack and Rush have shared women in the past and Jack falls for Vivian at first sight.
This story is an erotic tale, but it is also longer in length and blends a story between Vivian, Rush, and Jack. They all fall for each other very quickly and I would have liked to have felt a little more chemistry between them all for the long term. While there was historical language and clothing mentioned, I didn’t feel fully transported to the past and I did need a little more to make these characters ones I wanted to read about for 15 chapters. If you are a fan of “scandalous” historicals with limited character development, this story may be for you.
A Rake, His Patron, & Their Muse by Nicola Davidson – 3 stars
Lennox Townsend is a well-known London playwright and is known for his witty words as much as for his appetites in the bedroom. When his creativity well runs dry, his patron, Lord Jonathan Grant, accompanies Lennox to a boarding house in the country. Jonathan feels equally pleased and awkward at spending time with Lennox, as he has long held a crush on the man, including hidden desires of being dominated. On their trip, they meet widow Mrs. Viola Prescott, a caretaker at the boarding house, who is indebted to family due to her deceased husband’s mistakes. Viola’s life is drudgery and loneliness, and the sight of Lennox and Jonathan stir her longings once again.
The three of them share an erotic encounter and one time is not enough for any of them as they all revel in sharing their deepest desires. But Lennox isn’t a man to have steady partner, let alone two, and only scandal and secrets can await them unless they take a chance and defy convention.
This story starts out with Lennox and Jonathan secretly longing for each other. They also secretly long for a relationship where they can be free with their deepest desires, which for Lennox is dominating and for Jonathan being dominated, specifically by Lennox. They also would like to share a woman between them and they both think this is a truly a fantasy that can never happen. This book is set in 1815 and while there is an attempt to set up the story to be in the past, I never did feel truly transported.
There is a sense of each character and their history, although Lennox’s character wasn’t as developed as the others for the reveal that happened for him. The trio fall in love quickly and the initial chemistry was there, but as the story went on, it did fizzle out for me. The D/s aspect wasn’t overly developed and it became bland for me by the end. This story also had a similar feel to the other story in the anthology featuring a widow and two men and it didn’t quite capture my imagination. There is also no mention of any issues of two men being together during this time. The writing style of this one wasn’t for me, but if you do like historicals with a trio of characters defying society, this style may be for you.
Monsieur X by Adriana Herrera — 4.5 stars
Joseph Cantor Marshall has cultivated his public persona meticulously, so being seen at the renowned, but exclusive and secret, Le Bureau La-Bas, which specializes in unorthodox erotic pursuits, would be cause for immense gossip. But Cantor has finally taken the plunge, hoping the drastic measure will get him out of the rut he’s found himself in. As a portrait painter, he’s without inspiration and running out of time to complete his latest piece. A few hours at a masked soiree to indulge in physical pleasure and he hopes to be ready to face the canvas again.
Across the room, Cantor spies a younger man who absolutely captivates him. Approaching the man is easy, and X proves to be a surprise. X is certainly a submissive, but with a bite and backbone that piques Cantor’s interest further. The connection between them sparks from the start, and their play session is everything they both want. But when it’s over, X walks away.
A week later, Cantor can’t get X and their encounter out of his head. And it’s not helping that his newest client is late for his portrait sitting. When Lord Maximus Gregorio Bretton finally shows up, it doesn’t take Cantor long to finger out that Lord Maximus—Max—and X are one and the same. He inevitably lets the truth out, but Max insists nothing can come of it.
But another encounter at La-Bas has both men admitting the truth. The only problem is that Max is convinced he’s too much, selfish and scatterbrained, and that no one could want him for long. For Cantor though, Max is exactly what he wants. He wants nothing more than to care for and dominate the man. And though it’s not easy to maintain a same sex relationship in this time, it can be done. He just has to convince Max of all of that.
There was a richness to this story that drew me in and kept me engaged. Right from word one, I was completely absorbed in the story. The descriptions are deep and intricate, pulling me in and setting the time and place perfectly. With every scene, the entire picture was clear and I was completely engrossed in the world Herrera had built.
This story is told solely from Cantor’s POV, so the reader gets to know him thoroughly well. He’s gotten to where he is both on his talent and on his connections, and he’s carefully created his world. But there’s a loneliness in him that comes through on the page, and when he meets Max for the first time, as X, the sparks that ignite fill that void. It’s so clear in the words that I was right there with him for every step of his journey. At the same time, I felt a little was missing with Max, and readers don’t get to know him as well. He has all the earmarks of being a genius with ADHD, though those words aren’t used, in deference to the time period. But I would have liked for him to reveal more of himself to Cantor, and therefore to the reader, to fully understand him.
The author does a great job with their chemistry, and it’s easy to see how well they fit. I love Cantor’s need to take care of Max, and I love how that realization allowed Cantor to see a side of himself he hadn’t really before. It was, in fact, the missing piece in his life. But I will say that perhaps we didn’t get enough time of them together. I would have liked to see more interactions, as they were often cut short. Since many of their interactions are told to the reader after the fact, it was hard to fully connect with their love story. What was on page, though, definitely worked.
All in all, this one worked for me on almost every level. I was engaged and immersed, and when I finished, I was both happy for the MCs and their strong HFN, as well as felt like I was coming back to a different reality than the one I just lived in the pages of this story.
Sold to the Duke by Joanna Shupe — 3.5 stars
Eliza is desperate. With the death of her parents and brother, and a cousin taking over the Earlship and turning her out, she’s had to make do. But with an ailing sister, Eliza has no choice but to sell her body, and virginity, to the highest bidder. She just never expects the winner to be a friend of her brother’s.
Lucien didn’t even want to come to the auction, let alone bid on a girl. But when he sees the little sister of his best friend on stage, he does what he can to intercede. He is astounded to find her there, and worse to find out how she and her sister have been living the past five years. Though he insists she take the money without sex in exchange, Eliza refuses to do that. She insists they must fulfill the bargain, so that she’s not beholden to Lucien. Eliza at least knows that Lucien wouldn’t hurt her, so she sets about trying to seduce him in order to fulfill the terms. It’s not as easy as she expects, but there’s no doubt the attraction is mutual. It’s also fulfillment of Eliza’s girlhood fantasies, as she’s always fancied Lucien.
But Lucien has a secret, and no matter how much he desires Eliza, he knows he cannot keep her. He tries to do the right thing, but in the end he can’t resist her. When his secret comes out, Eliza is more than angry. It’s up to Lucien to show her that he wants nothing but the best for her. Even if that means letting her go.
This one left me with mixed feelings. While I appreciated the strong-willed heroine and her need to be self-sufficient, there was something at odds about the way she thought of her responsibilities and desires that didn’t quite ring true. At time,s the narrative strayed into trite territory that left me disengaging from the story.
Lucien was a rake, to be sure, embodying the stereotype to a T. It was a little overdone, to be honest, but worked for the most part. Eliza had shining moments as well. So I liked both MCs on the whole, and I appreciated that it was a dual POV as it helped to get into both characters’ heads. But the love story wasn’t that believable, and definitely followed the formula a little too closely without much to set it apart. I will say that the clever use of math in this book, and what it meant to the MCs, added to the appeal. On the whole the story was fine, but didn’t really have anything that truly made the story standout.