Sexy, Sweet and Suspenseful!

From the first page to the last, ONCE A RAKE, the 4th book in New York Times bestselling author Eileen Dreyer’s Drakes Rakes series, kept me captivated and enthralled on a sleepless autumn night.

All he wants is her help . . .

Colonel Ian Ferguson may be a rake, but he’s no traitor. Accused of trying to kill the Duke of Wellington, the disgraced Scotsman is now a fugitive-from the law, the army, and the cunning assassin who hunts him. Wounded and miles from his allies, Ian finds himself at the mercy of an impoverished country wife. The spirited woman is achingly beautiful . . . and hiding some dangerous secrets of her own.

All she needs is his heart . . .

She was a child nobody wanted. Now for Lady Sarah Clarke, holding on to her vanished husband’s crumbling estate is her final chance to earn respectability. She knows that hiding the devastatingly handsome Ferguson will jeopardize her home. Common sense demands that she turn him in. But a single, delirious kiss shatters her resolve . . . and awakens a passion that neither of them can escape.

What the above synopsis doesn’t tell you is to prepare for an historical adventure full of betrayal, intrigue, tenderness and love. Ms. Dreyer weaves all those elements and more, seamlessly into a story that literally kept me up all night.

Determined, courageous, intelligent, loyal, tender, and loving are just a few of the adjectives to describe Lady Sarah Clarke and she is, in my opinion, the perfect heroine.  Sarah is the by-blow from one of apparent noble birth, but as many by-blows were at that time in history, she was unwanted and ill treated, by both “family” and society alike.  One would think this would make Sarah bitter and angry, but Sarah took her unfortunate circumstances and soared above them.

Struggling to do all in her power to retain and maintain her missing-in-action husband’s estate, Sarah also takes care of her husband’s family — a hormone-overloaded, dramatic teenage sister, a mother who is plagued with fits of vapors, and the elder Lady Clarke’s humble and kind companion. Sarah works night and day taking care of the animals and farm to keep her little family from the streets — all with little appreciation from her husband’s family. Her work is literally never-ending and with fences breaking, pigs getting out, dams flooding the fields, it seems as if the fates are truly against her.

One of her biggest challenges, and best-friend, is her prized pig, Willoughby (“after another faithless pig in Sense and Sensibility”), who has a romantic heart and follows his new amours all over the county, much to Sarah’s consternation.

While the work is interminable, Sarah is content to do whatever needs to be done to protect her little family from her husband’s despicable cousin, Martin.

A villain in every sense of the word, Martin holds Sarah in less than no regard and is determined to run her off the estate so that he may expand his smuggling business.

As if Sarah doesn’t have enough going wrong in her life, in walks an injured Scottish berserker who is wanted by the government for treason.

Just for the record, Ms. Dreyer had me at “Scotsman.”  I don’t know what it is about Scottish men, whether it’s the raw masculinity, the fierceness with which they protect the ones they love, the passion in which they live life, or simply that deep Scottish brogue, but Ian mesmerized me from the word go.

Ms. Dreyer has a gift for spirited and realistic dialogue, characters with depth and believability, and the art of intertwining a political thriller thrown in for good measure.

Loyal and steadfast, Ian is looking for the proof he needs to clear his name, all while injured and in hiding at the mercy of a humble, but plucky, country wife.

From the moment Sarah discovers Ian, the sparks begin to fly and their relationship builds at a believable pace. Their love is heartbreakingly genuine, tender and passionate. With more challenges than a couple should ever experience, this love affair, just like Sarah and Ian individually, is strengthened by their adversaries and lifted up by one another.

While the love story is front and center, the political intrigue notches this book up from an historical romance to an adrenalin-filled, heart-pounding historical romantic suspense/thriller!  I love books that give the reader credit for being able to keep track of several plot twists and turns and keeps you guessing ‘til the very end, and that’s just what this one did.

Ms. Dreyer has a gift for spirited and realistic dialogue, characters with depth and believability, and the art of intertwining a political thriller thrown in for good measure. I loved the secondary characters as well and am looking forward to reading more about them.  Next on the horizon is Fiona Ferguson and Alex Knight’s story, TWICE TEMPTED.  We were given just a taste of this novel at the end of ONCE A RAKE and I will make sure to buy it the moment it comes out.

For now, I am going back and reading the three previous books in this epic series and enjoying every minute.


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About the Reviewer

Dayna Linton
Dayna Linton - Dayna is the very busy divorced mother of four "exceptional" children. She spends her time running not only this website but is also the founder and President of Rising Phoenix Charitable Foundation ( - a charitable organization which benefits women and children's causes. Dayna is a firm believer in the worth and value of individuals and hopes to help all embrace who they are, nourish themselves and then "pay it forward" by helping others around them to do the same. In her spare time, Dayna enjoys reading anything she can get her hands on and hopes to someday have the time to write a book herself. Dayna is also an avid lover of film and the process that goes into making them. From an early age, she remembers watching the Academy Awards with her mom and cheering on her favorites. When Dayna was little, she just knew she was going to be a big star someday and she would practice in front of a mirror accepting her Oscar. Dayna took four years of drama, which she loved, but found her true passion was dancing. Even today you can catch Dayna dancing just about everywhere she goes, including beaches in the moonlight ...