A rake in rake’s clothing

How I imagined Madeline's gardens

I have Google Alerts set up to let me know when any of my books are being discussed on the web, on blogs or discussion boards or whatever.   This includes all the historical romances I’ve released on Kindle and Nook.

I had forgotten how strongly readers reacted to these books.  Love or hate, and very vocal.  Lucien’s Fall has stimulated some discussion, at AAR, where the reader seriously did not like the characters (and suspected, perhaps, that I had salted the reviews…which I would not do), and in the reviews at the site itself.  (From “This is one of my favorite romances I have read in a LONG TIME. I enjoyed the maturity of the characters, the “plot” twist, and genuine redemption in the end. Well worth the $$.”  to “What’s Up with all the 5-star reviews?”)

While I would never directly engage a critic, because every reader has a right to her own opinion, I have reasons for choosing the storylines I do.  The criticism that Lucien is a rake always surprises me.  Of course he’s a rake.  He’s an obnoxious, dyed-in-the-wool rake with no conscience whatsoever.  He’s meant to be a real rake, not a false imitation thereof, a man who is only a little bad and might be redeemed by a good meal or the right words.  What fun is that?

So yes, Lucien is a terrible, real rake.  You and I would recognize him in an instant, just as Madeline does.  And yet, we’d be drawn, too, because that’s why a rake is so very effective–he’s charming and beautiful and everything about him promises at least one thing will be very good indeed.  Madeline is drawn, and resists. Her mother has schooled her well, and she is desperate to save the family estate, so she is trying hard to do the right thing.

And yet, there is Lucien. So unredeemable, so inevitably tortured, so alive with music that it leaks out of him in color.   How could she not fall?

The point is, a rake should be a rake, not a good man in rake’s clothing, or there is no pleasure for me in the story.

How about you? A bad boy in the current day is hard to pull off, but a rake is wildly intriguing. Agree? Or not?

10 thoughts on “A rake in rake’s clothing

  1. I’m sort of a fan of bad boys Then and Now. =)

    And I love the point that you make about having a rakish rake. The characters have to have somewhere to go. If they start off all loveable then the story stays flat–who wants to watch two people be lovey-dovey the whole time? (I have to look away in restaurants on Valentine’s Day sometimes!)

    Generally, if I’m having an issue in something I’m reading/writing it’s because the characters had nowhere to go. He/she started off too nice/secure/steady. That means that whatever gets thrown at the character can be too easily overcome. No struggle. No tension. That’s how we want our real lives…not our fiction. =)

  2. Cheryl L.

    Now I’m ordering a Nook copy ASAP!

  3. I’m not a fan of bad boys–too often they seem like they’re just petulant kids with bad manners and a sense of entitlement. I think that’s why I absolutely *loved* Lucien. He was the real deal, a complex character who you really wanted to wake up and turn his life around. And he did 🙂

  4. Barbara Samuel

    Ah, see, I knew I had my tribe here.

  5. Mel

    Bad boys aren’t much fun unless they really are bad boys and then do have to change to win their happy ending! Long live the rake!

  6. Karen

    When will you write about Julian and Gabriel, their exile and loves.

    • Barbara Samuel

      Still trying to work out how to juggle the schedule, Karen. But I promise I’ll let you know. I have had a *lot* of requests.

  7. Judi Rohrig

    I’m nearly finished reading your backlist and have enjoyed each and every one. I was especially taken with BLACK ANGEL, which I’ve read twice now. Thanks for making these available for the Nook. And, yes, I wish you would continue the St. Ives series.


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