Publisher: Avon Books
Publication Date: February 22, 2022
Series or Standalone: Last Chance Scoundrels #1
Links: Amazon – Barnes & Noble –Goodreads
I’ve been trying to sort out my feelings on The Good Girl’s Guide to Rakes for about a month. On the one hand, I enjoyed reading it and liked the story, but I also found it not all that memorable in the long run. I feel like it was missing that special something to make it stand out. All that to say is I did enjoy it, but I don’t think I loved it.
When Kieran Ransome helps his best friend abandon his sister at the altar, there are consequences. His parents issue an ultimatum: find a respectable wife within a year or inherit nothing. As a notorious rake, finding someone who can help reshape his reputation is a must. Celeste Kilburn is society’s darling with a sterling reputation. However, she wishes to escape her gilded cage and the pressures her father and society put on her. When Kieran, her older brother’s best friend, comes to her to help reform his reputation, she makes a deal with him: she’ll introduce him to the right social circles if he shows her London’s scandalous side. Disguised as “Salome,” Kieran escorts her to gambling hells, rowdy parties and sensual art salons while their attraction to each other grows. But when someone discovers the midnight escapees, Celeste’s freedom and reputation are on the line.
I enjoyed the romance between Kieran and Celeste, but I also found I wasn’t as super invested as I thought I would be. One of the novel’s central themes is finding yourself and the one person who accepts you for who you are, without judgment, and the romance is central to that. That ended up making this romance lean more sweet than sexy. Yes, there are still some love scenes and some great scenes featuring A+ dirty talk, but at its heart, the romance that bloomed between Kieran and Celeste was sweet. They both see the other for who they are and accept them for it. Everyone else wants to change them into someone else, but they can be honest and free with each other.
For Kieran, he presents to the world as a scoundrel and thrives on stirring up attention as a means of pissing off his parents. Deep down, all this man wants to do is write his poems and feel his feelings. He’s a lovable rogue with a heart of gold who loves to rock some guyliner. His parents truly tried to force some toxic masculinity down his throat by forcing him to give up his poetry as emotions are a sign of weakness in a man. He becomes a scoundrel to rebel against them, but he just wants them to accept him and love him for who he is instead of having their scorn.
For Celeste, she feels trapped because of her father’s heavy expectations. They grew up in poverty, and her father was able to work his way up and amass a fortune as a result. Now, he wants his daughter to marry into nobility as he thinks a title and wealth will be all she needs to be happy. Meanwhile, that’s the exact opposite of what she wants for Celeste. She doesn’t want to be the one family member with a pristine reputation. She wants to indulge a little and let loose. Dressing up as Salome allows her to be who she is – it frees her in so many ways. I also admired that she wanted to help the people from her old neighborhood, but her father was so obsessed with status and looking forward that he bars Celeste from doing anything related to their past.
In addition to the theme of finding yourself and the one person who accepts you for who you are, this book is incredibly feminist. It might feel a bit modern for some readers, but I love it. Celeste takes control of her life through her sexuality. She has control over her own body and choices, and deciding to sleep with Kieran is a choice she makes for herself because she wants to. That’s celebrated in this novel, and I loved it as historical romance at its core is inherently feminist.
In terms of the plot, I enjoyed reforming the rake and walking on the wild side of the story. However, I did find the conflict with Montfort and him discovering Salome’s real identity to be introduced and resolved way too quickly. It’s the only real conflict in the book, and I would have liked it to be a little more drawn out. It was wrapped up very quickly with too neat of a bow for my tastes.
Overall, I liked this, but it didn’t wow me. Something was missing that made me fully invested in the romance and the story. However, I still think many people will like this book, and I still think it’s worth picking up. I’m also very excited for book two, focusing on Kieran’s brother Finn. I enjoyed the Ransome brother’s relationship and cannot wait to see Finn, who keeps his emotions close to his chest, get bowled over by love.
Thank you to Avon/Netgalley for the ARC. All thoughts, ideas and opinions expressed in this review are my own.