I was reading ‘The Origins of Sex’ by Faramerz Dabhoiwala and the chapter that especially caught my attention was the chapter about the birth of the Cult of Seduction. Dabhoiwala claims that there was a significant change in the way women’s sexuality was viewed and it happened around 17thcentury. To simplify it: before, women were considered sexual creatures who led men astray and after the switch it was men who seduced women and women generally had no sexuality of their own until it was brought to life by a man. This gave a rise to a common paranoia about lusty males who are out to get every innocent and chaste woman in sight. There were hundreds of books, pamphlets, paintings whose main goal was to warn women against rakes, or, gasp, libertines! Reading examples of all these sad stories made me really want to read a romance with a ‘rake’ in the title. Basically I wanted exactly the same story as those quoted in the ‘Cult of Seduction’ chapter but with a happy ending.
Luck had it, I saw this for 1.40 in Kindle Store and it’s a Mills&Boon. Mills&Boon is a brand you can (usually) trust. They have been doing it for years and they can deliver, so I bought without hesitation.
‘Rake with a Frozen Heart’ is essentially a story about a sweet, innocent, chaste girl and a rich, handsome rake. Our heroine, Henrietta, has been repeatedly warned by her mother to stay clear of rakes. And what does Henrietta do? Falls for the first rake she meets. Of course, this is a romance novel, so our rake is given some redeeming qualities. He might be a rake but all the women he sleeps with are experienced and they know it’s only sex. Well, at least that’s Rafe St Alban says.
But I would like to call him out on this. He eventually does sleep with Henrietta, who is neither experienced nor aware it’s only sex. She is quite obviously in love with him. And at that point, he has no idea he is starring in a Mills&Boon so he doesn’t know they will get married and live happily ever after. At that point he still thinks he is in 19th century pamphlet warning young maidens against rakes and libertines, because he has no intention of making an honest woman out of her. Henrietta is bloody lucky it’s a Mills&Boons because that’s the only way this story can have a happy ending and her reckless behaviour does not lead to her ruin. Now, if Rafe failed to notice he was corrupting an innocent girl this time, how can I believe all his previous conquest were as honourable as he claims? You know what they say, never trust a rake!
Another interesting point is the sexuality of the heroine. It is in perfect accordance with the 18thcentury idea of asexuality of women (unless of course instilled in them by men). And here we have it, Henrietta was completely free of any sexual desire and has never felt as much as a tingle between her legs in all her twenty odd years of life. Yet, when a notorious rake sticks his tongue in her mouth, well, there you have it. She is all about sex from now. A woman who has never even masturbated will go down and suck this rake’s cock just a few chapters later. Yes, ladies, beware of rakes. Only let yourself loose if you are sure you are in a Mills&Boon and you are the heroine (and not some disposable secondary character). In this case, by all means, go for it.
One word about the cover: I am not quite sure open mouth works for men; he looks as if he had a runny nose.