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Book CoverLynneC’s review of  Tortured Rake (Bad Blood Collection, Book 1) by Sarah Morgan
Contemporary Romance published by Mills and Boon Modern Romance 1 May 11

Sarah Morgan leads off the first in a new series from Mills and Boon. Although I usually love her books, this time there are some elements that don’t work for me. They might work better for you.

Rake? For a contemporary? Really? Though I can’t hold that against Sarah, because she doesn’t have much input into the titles.

The hero is Nathaniel Wolfe, the youngest of eight siblings, all damaged one way or another by their controlling, abusive father. Nathaniel witnessed his little sister receiving a savage beating from their father, and then his older brother, Jacob, disappeared after his acquittal. Nathaniel has since become one of Hollywood’s most bankable stars. The story starts when he’s about to take the stage for his London debut, in a modern dress version of Shakespeare’s Richard II. He sees Jacob in the crowd and leaves the stage without uttering a word.

Katie Field is a talented costume designer at the start of her career. Nathaniel cannons into her in his panic, and he takes her with him, fleeing to her flat, where the media won’t find him.

Of course they do.

I found the two characters in this story difficult to like. Nathaniel flees the stage and doesn’t return, despite his ambitions to be a great stage actor as well as a bankable film star. He hides behind the masks he creates and covers his fears behind his handsome face. The production folds when he doesn’t return. He doesn’t give a thought to the people who worked so hard to make the production a success and the financiers who’d put money into it. Insurance would take care of them, but not the people who hoped to advance their careers or stay in paying work.

Katie wears brown, almost exclusively, although she designs beautiful costumes. She seems to have no market savvy but helplessly expects her talent to take her forward. In the world of costume design, she should have an agent at least, someone to push for her, but she has none. And she takes everything Nasty Nathaniel throws at her. He doesn’t exactly treat her well for most of the book, and because he’s tortured, that seems to excuse him. He is pretty nasty to Katie, taking her in bed, enthralling her, then dragging her around with him while he sorts his problems out. I wanted her to slap him from time to time to keep him in line, and I’m not a violent person. Either that, or find a gentler man to love, someone she deserve. I wasn’t entirely convinced that this marriage would end happily, because both need to develop a bit more at the end of the book.

Sarah Morgan’s style is assured and smooth and it takes me through this book. The progressions are great, the sex hot, and the interactions well described. Maybe she’s better when she has more freedom to create her own characters from scratch, but the characters seem a bit squeezed in, as though she had to force them into their molds.

I hate to say I didn’t enjoy this one, because I look forward to her releases, and she is a friend. And yes, I told her I was doing this, and she said I had to do what I think is best. A great sport and a very nice person. I could have declined to review this one because of our relationship, but I didn’t want to leave a book out of the series.

LynneCs iconGrade: C-


Nathaniel…Icon. Celebrity. Heartthrob. But beneath the movie star’s good looks is a man battling with his past. One night he is forced to rely on Katie Field, an ordinary woman who isn’t blinded by his fame. Can Nathaniel trust her enough to reveal the man behind the mask?

Read an excerpt.