“To Wed a Rake” by Eloisa James (Berkley, $2.99, e-book)
Originally published in the anthology “Talk of the Ton” three years ago with a different title, this is a quick and easy read that is well worth the small amount of time it will take to devour it. Because once you start, you will not want to put it down.
That is usually the case with Eloisa James’ books.
James is a talented writer who captivates readers, transporting them back to historical England and immersing them in the lives of the characters she masterfully creates. And she does that whether she has 400 pages or 90.
In this novella, readers quickly get impressions of the hero and heroine through a series of letters sent describing Gil and his scandalous ways and poor Emma, his long-suffering fiance who sits in the country waiting for Gil to transform her from spinster to wife.
Of course readers also learn rather quickly that the public images of both are wrong.
James shows her Shakespearean roots in this fast-paced story, obviously having fun in the process. Emma’s scheme to turn Gil’s joking quip back on him is fabulous, and proves her the perfect mate for Gil.
At a party, at which Gil is escorting an unsuitable woman, he “quotes” Shakespeare when asked when he plans to marry Emma. Few recognize the reference, which means scandal ensues.
Emma, of course, does recognize the words and applauds Gil’s intelligent sense of humor rather than be offended. But she does decide to have a bit of fun on her own, when she sets to lure her fiance at a masquerade ball.