To Tempt a Rakeby Cara Elliott
Kate Woodbridge has spent most of her life sailing to exotic ports around the globe, acquiring an expertise in botany, along with a few less ladylike skills. So when a deathbed promise to her parents brings her to London to seek reconciliation with her grandfather, the imperious Duke of Cluyne, she feels like a fish out of water. Her outspoken views and fiery temper… See more details below
Kate Woodbridge has spent most of her life sailing to exotic ports around the globe, acquiring an expertise in botany, along with a few less ladylike skills. So when a deathbed promise to her parents brings her to London to seek reconciliation with her grandfather, the imperious Duke of Cluyne, she feels like a fish out of water. Her outspoken views and fiery temper tend to set off sparks in Society-especially with the rakish Conte of Como.
A devil-may-care rogue, Marco finds the alluring and mysterious Kate a tempting target for his flirtations. But when murder strikes at the duke's country house party he begins to suspect that she's hiding a dark secret. He has his own clandestine reasons for offering to help her prove her innocence . . . And so begins a journey of dangerous deception that leads from England to the glittering ballrooms of Vienna, where Marco and Kate must duel with a deadly villain . . . and their own explosive attraction.
"The second book in the CIRCLE OF SIN series...is simply magnificent. The characters experience real growth. James and Alessandra fight like cats and dogs, ...but the passion between these two could set something on fire."
"Elliott expertly sifts a generous measure of dangerous intrigue into the plot of her latest impeccably crafted Regency historical, which should prove all too tempting to readers with a craving for deliciously clever, wickedly sexy romances."
"3 STARS ! A very good story and well worth your time to enjoy. This author remains one of my favorite romance writers about the Regency era."
"Cara Elliott's scorching hot debut...has created a captivating world that makes you feel as if you yourself are close friends with all of her characters."
"4 Stars -- HOT ! Elliott's ability to merge adventure, romance and an intriguing historical backdrop will captivate her readers and earn their accolades."
"4 Stars! Sensuality Level: 3 1/2 Hearts! An astoundingly fresh, sexy historical....witty dialogue, vivid settings...the thrilling tale of Lady Alessandra della Giamatti and Lord James "Black Jack" Pierson....Ms. Elliott has another refereshing regency on her hands with this one. It's interesting, fast-paced and very believable."
"4 1/2 stars! Author Cara Elliott has created a magnificently compelling read! She has paired a scholar and a scoundrel...and I had a wonderful time watching the chemistry of these two characters mix."
"The first in the Circle of Sin series by talented author Cara Elliott...this story had everything a reader could desire in a book, adventure, humor, mystery, romance, and a very naughty rake."
"A well-constructed novel of relationships and suspense. Great character development, plentiful dialogue often touched with humor, spicy sexual tension, and exciting plotlines combine to make it a winner."
From the first page of this sequel to To Sin With A Scoundrel and To Surrender To A Rogue, Elliott sweeps her readers up in a scintillating and sexy romance between Katharine...and Comte Giovanni. ... Heated passions come to a boil."Publilshers Weekly
Rave for To Tempt A Rake:"
Elliott expertly sifts a generous measure of dangerous intrigue into the plot of her latest impeccably crafted Regency historical, which should prove all too tempting to readers with a craving for deliciously clever, wickedly sexy romances."Booklist
For To Tempt a Rake:"
Blue Ribbon Rating! The third installment of the wickedly scrumptious CIRCLE OF SIN series...breaks the mold. ...a uniquely entertaining, heart stopping read. Nothing is sexier than a sinfully handsome, arrogant...libertine that hides behind the ain of a traumatic past. Kate is a decidedly fun and one-of-a-kind female protagonist.....It's that good."romancejunkiesreviews.com
For To Tempt A Rake:"
3 STARS ! A very good story and well worth your time to enjoy. This author remains one of my favorite romance writers about the Regency era."Huntress Reviews
For To Surrender to a Rogue:
"4 Stars HOT ! Elliott's ability to merge adventure, romance and an intriguing historical backdrop will captivate her readers and earn their accolades."rtbookreviews.com
For To Surrender to a Rogue:"
Ms. Elliott's amazing gift of bringing her characters to life makes this reader crave for more. With mystery, intrigue, laughter and hot steamy passion...what more could any reader want???"theromancereadersconnection.com
For To Surrender to a Rogue:"
The second book in the CIRCLE OF SIN series...is simply magnificent. The characters experience real growth. James and Alessandra fight like cats and dogs, ...but the passion between these two could set something on fire."romancejunkiesreviews.com
For To Surrender to a Rogue:"
4 Stars! Sensuality Level: 3 1/2 Hearts! An astoundingly fresh, sexy historical....witty dialogue, vivid settings...the thrilling tale of Lady Alessandra della Giamatti and Lord James "Black Jack" Pierson....Ms. Elliott has another refereshing regency on her hands with this one. It's interesting, fast-paced and very believable."wewriteromance.com
Raves for To Sin With A Scoundrel:"
In this nicely steamy debut, ...the romance is well drawn and intriguing."Publishers Weekly
For To Sin With A Scoundrel:"
A well-constructed novel of relationships and suspense. Great character development, plentiful dialogue often touched with humor, spicy sexual tension, and exciting plotlines combine to make it a winner."Romance Reviews Today
On To Sin With A Scoundrel:"
The first in the Circle of Sin series by talented author Cara Elliott...this story had everything a reader could desire in a book, adventure, humor, mystery, romance, and a very naughty rake."-Singletitles.com
On To Sin With A Scoundrel: "
4 1/2 stars! Author Cara Elliott has created a magnificently compelling read! She has paired a scholar and a scoundrel...and I had a wonderful time watching the chemistry of these two characters mix."Huntress Book Reviews, huntressreviews.com
On To Sin With A Scoundrel: "
Cara Elliott's scorching hot debut...has created a captivating world that makes you feel as if you yourself are close friends with all of her characters."theromancereadersconnection.com
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Read an Excerpt
To Tempt A Rake
By Elliott, Cara
ForeverCopyright © 2011 Elliott, Cara
All right reserved.
Ah, a naked lady. How lovely.”
Katharine Kylie Woodbridge felt a whisper of breath tease against her neck, its gossamer touch warm and wicked on her bare flesh.
“A naked statue,” she corrected. Ignoring the sardonic smile reflected in the diamond-paned glass, she carefully turned to the next painting in the portfolio.
The Conte of Como strolled a step closer and perched a hip on the edge of the library table. “It appears that Lord Giacomo has quite a talent for painting the female form,” he drawled, leaning his well-tailored shoulder a little closer.
A little too close.
As heat speared through the thin layers of silk and wool, like a hot blade melting butter, Kate tried to quell the liquid quickening of her pulse. Don’t, she warned herself. Oh, don’t react. It would be flirting with danger—nay, utter disgrace—to encourage the attentions of Giovanni Marco Musto della Ghiradelli.
Of all the men in London, he was the only one who might recognize the truth….
“Do you not agree?” The conte—who preferred Marco to his more formal string of names—traced a fingertip along the deckled edge of the watercolor.
Perhaps if she were rude enough, she could make him go away.
“Indeed,” replied Kate, keeping her voice deliberately cool. “Lord James is a highly accomplished artist.” She paused a fraction. “How nice to see a gentleman apply himself to mastering a laudable skill. So many aristocrats idle away their lives in debauched revelries.”
“I, too, have devoted a great deal of time to the serious study of feminine shape and proportion,” replied Marco, a flutter of amusement shading his gaze.
No man ought to have such long, luxurious lashes. Or, for that matter, such exquisite brandy-gold eyes, or such a supremely sensual mouth. Kate quickly looked back at the painting. And it was most unfair of the Almighty to bless a rakehell rogue with beautiful bones and hair that tumbled in sin-black curls to kiss the ridge of his shoulders.
No wonder he was said to be the very devil with women.
“And I would say that Lord Giacomo could use a little work on sketching the shape of a lady’s breast, si?” went on Marco. Lowering his aquiline nose to within inches of the textured paper, he made a show of studying the painting from several angles. “It’s not quite perfect. Perhaps he should draw from life instead of inanimate stone.” The indecently long lashes gave another silky swoosh. “After all, he now has a lovely model close at hand.”
“What a very vulgar suggestion, sir,” replied Kate, pinching back the urge to laugh with a thin-lipped frown. “Especially as the lady in question is your cousin.”
“You don’t think Lord Giacomo will be tempted to sketch his new bride in the nude?” asked Marco with a provocative smile. “As a connoisseur of Italian art, he seems to appreciate seeing the principles of symmetry and proportion stripped to their bare essentials.”
The mention of body parts, clothed or otherwise, was absolutely forbidden in Polite Society, but as usual the conte seemed to take obscene delight in making a mockery of English manners. Which, in truth, was rather refreshing. She, too, found all the complex rituals and rules of the ton horribly constricting.
However, as she could never, ever admit that to Marco, Kate snapped the portfolio shut with an exaggerated grimace. “You are outrageously lewd, sir. And crude.”
“So is Lord Byron,” murmured Marco. “Yet women find him… intriguing, do they not?”
“That’s because Lord Byron is intriguing. He writes wildly romantic poetry when he’s not misbehaving. While you—I shudder to think what you do when you’re not flirting or drinking.”
Marco rose and smoothed a wrinkle from his elegant trousers. “I might surprise you, bella.”
Her eyes flared in alarm at the whisper of Italian. Dear God, surely he didn’t suspect that there was any connection between a long-ago night in Naples and the present….
But all the more reason to keep him at arm’s length.
Quickly masking her reaction with a mocking laugh, Kate hastened to add, “Ha! And pigs may fly.”
“Have I made you angry?” His sensual mouth slid into a lazy smile. “Come, let us cry pax. I was merely trying to tease a touch of color to your cheeks with my banter.”
“Your mere presence is enough to do that,” retorted Kate. “Your arrogance is really quite intolerable.”
Marco clapped a hand to his heart.
Assuming that he had one, thought Kate. The gossip among the ladies of London was that the conte possessed only one sensitive organ—and it was not located in the proximity of his chest.
“You wound me, Miss Kate-Katharine.”
“Actually, I’ve only insulted you,” she replied. “You are lucky I am wielding only my tongue and not a rapier. Else your voice would be an octave higher.”
A casual flick of his wrist set the fobs on his watch chain to dancing against the silk of his waistcoat. “Trust me, Miss Kate-Katharine. If we were to cross blades, you would not come out on top.”
To Kate’s chagrin, she felt a fresh flush of heat rise to her face.
Marco slid a step closer and flashed a lascivious wink. “I am considered one of the best swordsmen in all of Europe.”
Much as she wished to riposte with a clever retort, she found herself momentarily at a loss for words. For all his braggadocio, he wasn’t exaggerating his skills with sharpened steel. Even if she hadn’t known for a fact that he routinely bested Angelo, the premier fencing master in London, she would have guessed at his physical prowess. In her former life, she had learned to assess a man’s strengths and weaknesses in one glance.
And Marco? His gestures were deceptively lazy, but beneath the pose of an indolent idler, the conte moved with a predatory grace. Like a lean, lithe panther. A sleek wild animal, all whipcord muscle and coiled quickness.
But that was not the only reason he was dangerous….
Recovering her voice, Kate stepped back and slowly drew on her kidskin gloves. “What a pity we cannot put such a claim to the test.” He was not the only one who could employ theatrics.
Marco watched the soft leather slide over her skin. “You could use one of those to slap me across the face and challenge me to a duel.” The hint of laughter in his voice—a rumble redolent of aged brandy and smoky boudoirs—sent a tiny shiver prickling down her spine.
“Tempting,” she said. “But I mustn’t forget that I am a lady.”
“There is no danger that such a fact will ever escape my mind, cara.”
Danger. The word stirred another whispered warning inside her head. Kate averted her eyes, reminding herself that she mustn’t encourage him to look too carefully at her features. The chances were razor-thin, but he just might remember…
“No doubt because you rarely think of anything but sex,” she said tartly, trying to deflect his attention. “Do you never tire of the subject?”
At that, Marco laughed aloud. “On rare occasions, I do think of other things.”
“Now you have shocked me, sir.”
“Not as much as you interest me, Miss Kate-Katharine—”
“Do stop calling me by that ridiculous moniker,” she interrupted.
“Izzz wrong?” he asked, greatly exaggerating his accent. “My cousin Alessandra calls you Kate and your maid calls you Katharine. Knowing the English fondness for double names, I assumed—”
“Please spare me the long-winded explanations.” As she preferred a more informal name to ‘Katharine,’ she was called ‘Kate’ by her close friends. Among whom the Conte of Como did not number. “And please address me properly. To you, I am ‘Miss Woodbridge.’ ”
“Propriety is so boring,” he murmured. “I should think that a lady of your intellectual inquisitiveness would agree.”
Ignoring the remark, Kate stepped away from the display table. “If you will excuse me, I must find the bride and groom and take my leave.”
“Why the rush back to London? Most of the wedding guests are staying until tomorrow.”
“Charlotte has a lecture on medieval metallurgy to prepare for the Mayfair Institute of History and Science.” The elderly scholar was, like herself, a member of the Circle of Scientific Sibyls, a small group of intellectual females who met each week to share their knowledge. And their friendship.
Given that the ton did not approve of serious learning for ladies, the five members had taken to calling themselves by a more informal moniker—the Circle of Sin. Kate felt a small smile twitch at the corners of her mouth. Without the stalwart support of the ‘Sinners’ over the past year, she wasn’t quite sure how she would have navigated the uncharted waters of Polite Society.
“Sounds fascinating,” drawled Marco.
“Yes. It is.” She raised her forefinger and crooked it up and down. “After all, without science, your steel might bend at an inopportune moment.”
He was suddenly blocking her way. “I have heard of the phenomenon, but having never experienced it, I am not sure what could cause such a malfunction. Perhaps you would care to explain it to me?”
She gasped as his coat brushed against her breasts, the heat of him singeing through the silk. “Nemernic.”
The dark laugh sounded again, far too close for comfort. “I speak enough Romanian to know that I have just been called a very bad name.” His wide, wicked mouth was now only a hairsbreadth from hers. “I thought you weren’t going to forget that you are a lady.”
“I—” Her words were cut off as his lips came down on hers. Their touch was shockingly sensual, like sun-warmed velvet stroking the most sensitive spot of flesh.
The sensation held her in thrall, but only for a heartbeat. Recovering her wits, Kate struck a sharp uppercut to his jaw, her knuckles landing with a good deal more force than his teasing kiss.
Marco fell back a step. His nostrils flared as he drew in a taut breath and then he let it out slowly, looking oddly bemused. “Where did a gently bred female learn to punch like that?”
“Never mind,” she muttered, surreptitiously flexing her fist. He had a very solid chin.
His nose quivered, like a bird dog on the hunt. “You smell like oranges and… something else.”
Before Marco could go on, a shadow slanted over the alcove.
“Oh, there you are, Kate.” Alessandra della Giamatti—now Lady James Jacquehart Pierson, wife of the Duke of Ledyard’s youngest son—paused in the oak-framed doorway, her new husband by her side. “Excuse me, are we interrupting a private conversation?”
“Ciao, Alessa,” answered Marco. “No, your learned friend and I were just having a very stimulating discussion on fencing.”
A tiny furrow formed between her brows as Alessandra spotted the lingering red welt on his jaw. “Fencing,” she repeated softly.
“Si, and had I known science was such a provocative field of study, I would have asked to join your little group ages ago.” He moved quickly to kiss her on both cheeks and added a rapid-fire volley of Italian. “You are more beautiful than ever this morning, cara. Marriage must agree with you.”
“And you are more incorrigible than ever,” murmured Alessandra, deflecting the sly innuendos with a wry smile. Turning to Kate, she said, “If my cousin is annoying you, feel free to tell him to va’ all’ inferno.”
Go to hell.
Kate made a face. “He’s probably been there and back several times over.”
“Aye.” James Jacquehart Pierson chuckled. With his midnight locks, olive complexion, and muscled military bearing, he was known throughout London as “Black Jack.” But Alessandra had assured Kate that he had a heart of gold. “I imagine that the devil booted him back to our world, after finding him far too obnoxious to tolerate for any length of time.”
Marco contrived to look hurt. “And here I thought we were amicos, Lord Giacomo.”
“Friends?” Jack arched a dark brow. “Don’t press your luck, Ghiradelli. Your presence here is tolerable. Barely. In fact…”
Leaving the men to their verbal sparring, Kate drew Alessandra into one of the arched alcoves and brushed a kiss to her cheek. “Much as I hate to agree with your cousin on anything, you do look glorious. And happy.”
“I am,” replied Alessandra. Which for her was a notable display of emotion. Of all the ‘Sinners,’ she was the most reserved about her feelings and her past, even with her closest friends.
With good reason, acknowledged Kate. Alessandra had a dark secret from her past life in Italy that had recently come to light and threatened to destroy both her and her young daughter. But Black Jack Pierson, a highly decorated veteran of the Peninsular campaign, had proved his mettle in love as well as war by vanquishing a cunning enemy and winning her heart.
Glancing at the rows of leather-bound books, Kate felt her lips quirk. Just like a storybook hero. What a pity that a noble knight could not transform from ink and paper to flesh and blood.
Not that any mortal man could slay her dragon. Some secrets were worse than others…
Forcing a smile, Kate gave a light laugh. “We are all so delighted for you.”
Alessandra squeezed her hand. “I am so grateful for my friendship with all of the ‘Sinners.’ I would never have survived the last few months without it.”
“That is what friends are for.” She paused, feeling a little pang of regret that she would be leaving Ledyard Manor that afternoon. “Speaking of which, I was just coming to tell you that Charlotte is anxious to return to London, on account of her upcoming lecture.”
“Of course.” Alessandra slanted a look at Jack and Marco, who were still exchanging barbs. “Come, let us fetch Ciara and Ariel from the conservatory, and visit her room while she finishes her packing.”
The idea of circling their little group, if only for a short while, lifted Kate’s spirits. “What an excellent suggestion. You don’t mind leaving Jack to fend for himself?”
“Oh, once he and Marco stop needling each other, they will actually enjoy conversing on Roman art and antiquities. For all of my cousin’s frivolous teasing, he is very knowledgeable on the subject.”
“I never would have guessed that the conte had any interest in intellectual subjects,” she replied slowly.
“Marco has a number of unexpected facets to his character, which he takes great pains to hide.” Alessandra’s voice took on a wry note. “But then, who am I to talk?”
Kate hesitated for a moment before answering. “I daresay we all have things that we keep to ourselves.”
Let her go.
Assuming an expression of bored indifference, Marco slowly looked away from watching the two ladies walk off.
“Set your sights elsewhere,” murmured Jack, as if reading his mind. “You may be her cousin, but Alessandra will chop off your testicolos and feed them to the Tower ravens if you try to play your usual wicked games with Miss Woodbridge.”
Though he was thinking much the same thing, Marco reacted with a cynical smirk. “What makes you think she wouldn’t welcome my attentions?”
“The fact that you are a conceited coxcomb and your arrogance is insufferable at times.”
“Si.” Marco widened his mouth to a wolfish grin. “But most females find that intriguing.”
“Alessandra’s friends are not like most females,” pointed out Jack. “Their intellect sets them apart, so you can’t expect to charm them with your usual approach.” He paused. “I imagine that Miss Woodbridge is smart enough to see that you are an arse.”
“Trust me, Lord Giacomo, I don’t need advice on flirting from you.”
“No? Well, from what I have observed, you don’t appear to be making much progress on your own.”
Leaning a shoulder on the fluted molding, Marco watched the last little flutter of sea-green silk disappear down the corridor. To be sure, Kate Woodbridge was no ordinary young lady. But it was not just her brains that set her apart. There was an unexpected glint of grittiness shading her lovely aquamarine eyes. As if she had seen the grim realities of the world outside of the gilded confines of Mayfair’s mansions.
Which was, of course, highly unlikely. Kate was the granddaughter of the Duke of Cluyne, one of the highest sticklers of Polite Society. She had been born into a life of wealth and privilege and was surrounded by an army of servants ready to do her bidding.
Such coddled innocence bored him to perdition. So why did the sway of her shapely hips provoke the urge to follow?
“Perhaps I haven’t tried very hard,” drawled Marco, turning his attention to the folds of his cravat. Smoothing a finger over the starched linen, he added, “It’s hardly a fair match of skills. And contrary to what you may think, I do not deliberately toy with an innocent young lady’s affections.”
Jack gave a mock grimace. “Good God, you mean to say that you have a conscience?”
Marco straightened from his slouch. “You military heroes are not the only ones with a code of honor.”
“Well, you need not wage any great moral battle with your self-proclaimed noble scruples. According to Alessandra, her friend can look out for herself.”
Marco let out a grunt of laughter. “Miss Woodbridge may be clever and possess a cutting tongue, but that does not mean she is equipped to deal with the darker side of life.” He curled a lip. “Rapscallion roués, jaded fortune hunters. Or rakehell rogues like me.”
“Don’t be so sure of that,” countered Jack. “From what I gather, Miss Woodbridge has had a rather eccentric upbringing. Her mother tossed away title and fortune to elope with an American sea captain. She’s spent most of her life sailing around the world.”
He felt his sardonic smile thin ever so slightly. His cousin had not talked much about her friends with him. No doubt feeling that he couldn’t quite be trusted with the intimate details of their lives.
“The fact is, I think she had a rather rough time of it these last few years,” continued Jack. “Her parents died of a fever within days of each other, and only a deathbed promise to them brought Miss Woodbridge here to seek a reconciliation with her grandfather.” He shrugged. “Apparently the waters at Cluyne House are anything but calm. She’s fiercely independent, which tends to make waves with the duke.”
“That begins to explain her salty language,” murmured Marco thoughtfully. Today was not the first time she had let fly with a very unladylike word.
Jack chuckled. “Alessandra says she can swear like a sailor in nearly a dozen different dialects.”
“Yes, but not nearly as interesting as the collection of rare books I have here on classical architecture.” For Jack, ancient Rome was a far more fascinating topic of conversation than Katharine Kylie Woodbridge. “Come, there is a seventeenth-century volume of engravings on the Temple of Jupiter that I want to show you….”
Marco reluctantly pushed aside all thoughts about ladies—naked or otherwise—to follow Jack to one of the display tables set by the bank of leaded-glass windows. Yet somehow the tantalizing scent of Sicilian neroli and wild thyme stayed with him, teasing at his nostrils.
Strange, it seemed hauntingly familiar, but he just couldn’t place it.
And no wonder, he thought, dismissing the notion with a sardonic shrug. He had inhaled too many perfumes in his wicked, wanton life to recall them all. In truth, none of the women had been very memorable.
Save for one clever whore in Naples who had dared…
“Pay attention, Ghiradelli. If you drool on that Doric column, I swear I shall cut off your tongue.”
Excerpted from To Tempt A Rake by Elliott, Cara Copyright © 2011 by Elliott, Cara. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
Cara Elliott started writing Western novels at the age of five. Later she changed her genre to Regency romance after reading Pride and Prejudice. She graduated from Yale University, and she now lives and works in New York City.
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Katharine Kylie Woodbridge has led so many lives and the one she leads now is a mixed blessing as she struggles to find her place in society and the universe in general. She has a brilliant scientific mind with a love of botany so her scientific friends in the Circle of Scientific Sibyls known as the Circle of Sin know she is book smart and still loving and caring. But since her parents death and the place she resides with her very rigid grandfather is less than ideal. She must stay to try and restore the relationship but he is very judgmental and refuses to acknowledge that she has a heart and a brain. When Kate collides with Giovanni Marco Musto della Ghiradelli an enchanting but dangerous rake Kate knows better than to mix passion with reason but does she listen to herself, of course not. Marco is hypnotizing and has the smooth Italian accent to sway every reasonable thought out of her head and warm her heart. Kate is a woman of science but even she knows at some point there has to be an anchor in live that will provide some stability and even out the rough waters you go through and Kate wonders secretly is Marco that person for her. Her past may have collided with Marco's before but now she is not wandering the world with wanderlust parents she is trying to be a respectable London socialite, sort of, maybe, but not so much. But before too much thought can go into the relationship a murder happens during a quiet country house party and all fingers are pointing right at Kate as the murderer. Is Kate capable of such violence, could she have stabbed a man in the heart, does her past lend to violent tendencies? So many believe she is the culprit but the two men she needs to stand up for her do and with Marco and her grandfather refusing to let the accusations fly she might get out without losing her head, her heart is another matter altogether. Marco has more than a few secrets and surprises of his own and a resolution to solve the matter quickly which shocks everyone especially Kate. In the end Kate and Marco show that together they are a team no evil doer can break up or tear apart. Bravo to Ms. Elliott for writing a series where you can not literally decide which one you like the best. I read each one swearing "she can't top this" and yet she has and did. Kate and Marco are the adventuresome of the trilogy and they are so endearing because both are not damaged but guilt ridden by past mis-deeds. They are both independent and venerable at the same time which is always something I can relate to. What I do love about Kate is that she can take care of herself but does not mind that sometimes it is nice to have someone else row the boat and make the decisions while always landing on her feet.
I love the "Rake" books. They aren't the same story and the heroines don't have the same personality.
Dangerous, sensuous and mysterious is the best way to describe Regency historical romance author, Cara Elliott's concluding installment in her circle of Sin series, To Tempt a Rake by Forever, an imprint of Grand Central Publishing released in February 2011 is a true pleasure to read. Kate Woodbridge is anything but a conventional Regency lady. Back on English soil Kate is determined to reconcile with her grandfather, Duke of Cluyne. She finds friends in the group of scholarly women in the Circle of Sin who are just as passionate and uncharacteristic in their pursuit in science as she is. A botanist at heart all Kate wants to do his learn more in her field and forget her wayward past. But that isn't possible when the devastatingly devilish handsome Conte of Como walks back into her stirring up emotions she thought long dead and buried. The one saving grace, the Conte doesn't seem to recognize her. Marco, Conte of Como has the world at his knees and beautiful women begging to grace his bed, except the lovely blonde beauty Kate. She would rather have her nose in a book, studding her plants or spending time with her Circle of Sin comrades. Thing is Marco cannot shake the feeling that he has met Kate before. The sparks fly every time their near and things are heating up just when Marco should be concentrating on his own mission. "Most females were simple to figure out, but Kate Woodbridge was different. An enigma. A puzzle whose pieces he could not quite fit together. She intrigued him." The scene above perfectly describes Kate Woodbridge and is why she is one of my favorite characters in To Tempt a Rake. Call me unconventional because I adore a strong, independent unconventional lead female character that knows what she wants and goes for it. Ms. Elliot is a mistress of skillfully crafting a flesh and blood character that make you want to absorb every word she pops on paper. Kate had me laughing, smiling and yes giggling at her inventive ways of keeping Marco at arms length. Marco the ever and very persistent rogue was not having it. Theses characters were such a pleasure to watch that I had a difficult time letting them go. To Tempt a Rake has a cast of charismatic characters and all our favorites from To Sin with a Scoundrel and To Surrender to a Rogue make an appearance adding their intoxicating stamp to an already sensual romance.The one that mad my heart swoon was the one and only the rake himself, Giovanni Marco della Ghirardelli, Comte of Como. I remember falling for the devil-may-car rogue at the end of To Sin with a Scoundrel. I remember thinking, "Wow, who is this guy?" Marco is strongly and well written as a man who goes through life not taking anything seriously; that drew my eye to him. I knew that the more I read the more I would uncover a man who was tormented by his past and trying to make restitution for a crime he believed he was guilty for. Marco grew up shutting everyone out to protect himself. The fact that Kate is unconventional and not the kind of woman he usually gravitates towards lends credit to Ms. Elliott's unique techniques in showing her readers a deeper side to this rogue. Okay, so I'm a sucker for an brilliantly written, beautiful romance that grabs my emotions from the start. To Tempt a Rake has every element that makes a perfect romance and gives readers exactly what they need at the end.A Happily Ever After.
To Tempt A Rake is the perfect romance for Valentine's Day. I fell in love with the chemistry between the main characters and I'm patiently awaiting more from Cara. She creates the most interesting characters and intriguing plots.
Last year, Regency author Cara Elliott introduced us to the Circle of Sin -a group of scholarly ladies who would rather engage in scientific experiments than make afternoon calls. Elliott released back to back books, To SIN WITH A SCOUNDREL and TO SURRENDER TO A ROGUE, with a hint that the third member of the Circle, Kate, would find adventure and romance in the final book of the series. TO TEMPT A RAKE delivers both a transcontinental adventure and a passionate romance with Comte Giovanni Marco Musto della Ghiradelli. Marco portrays himself as a disinterested rake seeking pleasure, but his façade hides many secrets. TO TEMPT A RAKE opens in London with Kate - the daughter of an American privateer and a runaway English lady - trying to make peace with her aristocrat grandfather. As Kate tries to find a place in polite society, enter Marco with a mysterious past. They flirt at social functions but Kate keeps her distance to protect her own secrets. Kate accompanies her Grandfather to his ducal estate for a house party with European diplomats ready to embark for the Congress of Vienna. Marco follows Kate under the guise of entertaining the diplomats when in fact he is there to unmask a traitor. Kate becomes entangled in the web of intrigue as the traitor casts suspicion on Kate as a cover for his exit. Marco and Kate proceed to the Congress of Vienna to prevent an assassination that would disrupt Europe's delicately brokered peace. As Kate and Marco unmask the traitor, they also unmask their feelings for each other. In the end, Elliott delivers another satisfying romantic adventure. The book may be part of a series, but it stands alone in character development. I enjoyed Kate's growth from a rebellious "American" to a resourceful "lady" who realizes her life, and the world around her, is not all black and white. But the special treat was Marco. Like his famous chocolate namesake, Marco is multilayered and richly fulfilling. Perhaps it is no coincidence that the publishers released TO TEMPT A RAKE in time for Valentine's Day - it is a classic romance book worthy of Cupid's arrow.
Having sailed around the world for her vocation, American botanist Katharine Woodbridge travels to England to end her estrangement from her grandfather, the staid Duke of Cluyne. Kate's biggest fear upon arrival amongst the shocked Ton (re her behavior) is not with reconciliation with her relative, but from the Italian Conte of Como, Marco Ghiradelli, who might expose her. Marco enjoys baiting Katharine as they have witty word wars. However, he cannot understand why he thinks he knows her though he cannot fathom from where or when. His work disallows what he wants to do, make love with the frisky intelligent American. All bets are off when someone frames Kate for murder and an assassin threatens the Vienna peace conference. As Marco works both with Kate at his side, a traitor sets in motion a deadly counter plan. The third Circle of Sin thriller (see To Surrender to a Rogue and To Sin with a Stranger) is an exhilarating historical romance starring a serious scholarly scientist and a seemingly worthless wastrel. Their pairing make for a fast-paced tale especially when the local switches to Vienna on the eve of a historical conference. Although the traitor seems inept except for hiding behind a veneer of aristocratic polish, readers will enjoy dancing at this waltz. Harriet Klausner