REVIEW: The Last Days of a Rake by Donna Lea SimpsonSunday, November 21, 2010 1:00
When I received the galley for The Last Days of a Rake, I thought I was receiving a historical romance. This wasn’t true, and became apparent quite early, so I read the book for what it was, the historical confession of a man who had wasted his life. I haven’t read the companion book, “Love and Scandal,” but this taster made me interested in doing so.
The book is set in the early days of the reign of Queen Victoria and is set in the bedroom of a self-confessed rake, Edgar Lankin. A friend has come to see him in his last days and the book is his confession of his misdeeds.
It’s really very well done. It describes Edgar’s heartbreaking seduction of a young woman, Susan, and the way he subsequently abandons her to her fate. Also the way he leads young, unsuspecting men to ruination in the gaming hells.
This is a pastiche of the Victorian moral redemption story, and, as such, is well done. But I found it soulless and dispiriting. Reading about a “real” rake was refreshing, after the pseudo-rakes that throng our bookshelves, virtual and otherwise, but the man has no virtues and no interesting features.
After a while, I felt dispirited reading the history of this man. Unlike Mary Jo Putney’s Reggie, the hero of The Rake, there is no redemption for Lankin. He deserves his fate and more. Being sorry doesn’t cut it for the lives he’s ruined. Without reading the companion book, I didn’t understand his significance, and I didn’t much care. He’s a stock character, the kind the Victorians delighted in, but he doesn’t add much to the body of knowledge.
But an interesting experiment, and I’ll be looking for more of Simpson’s books in the future.
[Ed. This ebook is currently priced free at Carina Press.]
Edgar Lankin has lived the life of rake, a man who cares for nothing but the pleasures of the flesh. But it is the seduction—and abandonment—of a gentle maiden that turns him from mere gadabout to immoral cad. Too late, Lankin realizes his self-centered ways have left him incapable of finding enjoyment in anything. Now on his deathbed, he relates the shocking tale of his wasted life to John Hamilton, a school chum who chose a different path.
In telling his story, can Lankin find redemption for the trail of ruined lives he leaves behind?
Read an excerpt.
Other books in this series: