Title: Barely a Lady, book 1 of The Drake’s Rakes series
Author: Eileen Dreyer
Genre: Historical Romance
Story Setting: 1815, Belgium, England
Published By: Forever (July 1, 2010)
About the Story: Olivia Grace was in hiding. Hiding from the ton, from her past and from her thoughts and deepest secrets. She had everything tucked safely away until that awful night when she was found. How did Gervaise find her here in Belgium? Would she be able to slip past his net?
That terrible night when she lost so much she found three wonderful women who became her friends and she theirs.
Jack, was the hero of the story, starting out in non-hero category. Though he had loved his wife very much, he listened to rumors, numerous times about his wife and then found her in the arms of another man. Without hesitation, he banished her from his life and from that day on Olivia, left pregnant, had to fend for herself, a divorced woman with a ruined reputation. For five long years she’d barely managed to take care of herself and keep hidden.
Olivia had joined her friend Grace to search for Grace’s father on the battlefield of Waterloo near Brussels. When Olivia found Jack, he looked very much like a traitor of his country. He was wearing the grey uniform of the French. (I ask you, what would you have done?) He had treated her abominably. Well, you shall see the stuff of which Olivia is made of.
My Thoughts: This is the first of Eileen Dreyer’s books I’ve read. I chose this because it begins a series. Her writing is engaging and quite descriptive and eloquently expressed. I delighted in some of her sentences expounding wisdom on human nature or when she brought a simple movement to life. She expresses herself brilliantly. I’m impressed.
Lady Kate, the duchess was uproariously funny at the most serious of times. She had a droll sense of humor, with a tongue and will that embarrassed and cajoled people to do her bidding. She championed the most underdog and those who society had wronged with warmth and compassion. She took Olivia under her wing as was her nature when she heard Olivia had lost her position.
I was particularly drawn to a secondary character, Lady Bea. She was only able to speak in two-word phrases due to a past accident, so she chose her words carefully. She added comic relief in some situations and a commentary by those very words in others.
Ms. Dreyer’s very clever usage of Jack’s amnesia, provided me an amnesic reading experience mirroring Jack’s frustration. It was if I, the reader, also had amnesia—knowing bits and pieces of the story as it unraveled knowing some of the characters knew things about each other which I was not privy to. (reader’s amnesia)
As every good series makes you do, I diligently purchased book 2 of the series. A highly recommended read to anyone who enjoys a well-writtened romantic suspense mystery in a historical setting.
Here’s a quote from the book that will linger long with me.
He thought her smile was the saddest thing he’d ever seen. “Oddly enough, women expect trust to be based on faith. Not evidence. She’d hope you loved her enough to take her word.”
New York Times bestselling, award-winning author Eileen Dreyer, known as Kathleen Korbel to her Silhouette readers, has published 28 romance novels, 8 medico-forensic suspenses, and 7 short stories.
2012 sees Eileen enjoying critical acclaim for her first foray into historical romance, the Drake’s Rakes series, which follow the lives of a group of British aristocrats who are willing to sacrifice everything to keep their country safe. After publication of the first trilogy in the series, she has just signed for the next trilogy, following the graduates of the aptly named Last Chance Academy, who each finds herself crossing swords with Drake’s Rakes. Eileen spent time not only in England and Italy, but India to research the series (it’s a filthy job, but somebody has to do it).
A retired trauma nurse, Eileen lives in her native St. Louis with her husband, children, and large and noisy Irish family, of which she is the reluctant matriarch. She has animals but refuses to subject them to the limelight.
Dreyer won her first publishing award in 1987, being named the best new Contemporary Romance Author by RT Bookclub. Since that time she has also garnered not only five other writing awards from RT, but five RITA Awards from Romance Writers of America, which secures her only the fourth place in the Romance Writers of America prestigious Hall of Fame. Since extending her reach to suspense, she has also garnered a coveted Anthony Award nomination.
A frequent speaker at conferences, she maintains membership in Romance Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and, just in case things go wrong, Emergency Nurses Association and International Association of Forensic Nurses.
Eileen is an addicted traveler, having sung in some of the best Irish pubs in the world, and admits she sees research as a handy way to salve her insatiable curiosity. She counts film producers, police detectives and Olympic athletes as some of her sources and friends. She’s also trained in forensic nursing and death investigation, although she doesn’t see herself actively working in the field, unless this writing thing doesn’t pan out.
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