Cyprian Stone was disowned by his father, Lord Dorton, who knows his son to be the offspring
of his wife's dalliance. Cyprian is made all too aware of his father's feelings during
his young childhood, and escapes his father's wrath while still a young man. When he returns
to England, his past follows him - one that marks him as being a gambler, smuggler and
a rake. Cyprian, however, will tell no one of the true nature of the work he has done for
his country. His goal now is to earn respectability without the help of his father, and
nothing will stand in his way. He is on his way through Hyde Park to dine with Lord and
Lady Cowdlin and their marriageable daughter, Lady Hannah, when he hears a cultured woman's
voice cry out in urgency, and feels he has no choice but to investigate the cause of the
Morgana Hart has returned to England to live with her grandmother, the dowager Lady
Hart, and their servants, while her father and his new wife leave for his new post in
Naples. The living arrangement quite suits Morgana for, as a child, she had her share of
independence. Living with a slightly senile grandmother as her chaperone allows Morgana
to come and go as she pleases - within the rules of respectability, of course.
Then Morgana learns that her maid's sister, Lucy, is determined to live a life of sin.
She and her maid, Amy, follow the young girl into Hyde Park. Morgana is a caring woman
and will do anything to prevent Lucy from ruining her life - even if it means fighting
the unwholesome man who wishes to make Lucy a common prostitute. Suddenly, a well-dressed
stranger comes to their rescue and, having taken care of the loathsome man, insists on
escorting Miss Hart and her servants home. Morgana agrees, but only allows him to escort
them so far. After all, her rescuer is fully aware of the reason the three women were
in the park. Even so, she cannot quite forget the magnificent, darkly handsome man - a
man whose name she does not know.
When Cyprian arrives to escort Lord and Lady Cowdlin, Lady Hannah, and Hannah's newly
arrived cousin to the opera, he's surprised to learn that Hannah's cousin is Miss Hart,
the young woman he assisted in Hyde Park. Although Cyprian considers marriage to Lady
Hannah a goal, she pales in comparison to Morgana, whose strength of character intrigues
him and whose comments often make him laugh. The situation is complicated when his secretary,
Elliott, finds him a home situated immediately next to Morgana's and Cyprian realizes that
all is not as it should be with his feminine neighbor.
Why are there strange women in her house? And why does Morgana ask him to send a message
to a courtesan known to him? The answers could result in the ruin of them both, unless
Cyprian can find a way of fulfilling her plan and saving their reputations at the same
time - a daunting task indeed.
Diane Gaston, aka Diane Perkins, has done it again in A Reputable Rake - a novel
nominated for the coveted RWA RITA Award for 2006. It's easy to see why, for A Reputable
Rake is an outstanding, exciting tale of respectability and the dark side of England's
ton life. The characters are enchanting, vividly alive and the story is intriguing, filled
with danger and excitement that will keep the reader turning the pages. I literally could
not put down this book until I reached the last page, and even then, wanted more. An excellent,
highly enjoyable read I'd recommend to all.