If You Like….

I’ve been thinking a lot about rakes recently. Romance Land is overrun with them, but they’re like cartoon bunnies: a softer, fuzzier version of the real thing. Without those sharp little teeth.

Real rakes are something quite different: there’s an edge to them, something ruthless and more than a little bit dangerous. They have the potential to turn genuinely nasty. And maybe that’s their attraction.

So where does one find real rakes in fiction? Here’s my mini-list of rakish rakes:

— Lovelace from Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa: there’s nothing like starting with the original, and if there ever was a genuinely dangerous eighteenth century rake, Lovelace is it. I still keep hoping for the story to end differently…. (Confession: Sean Bean’s performance in the BBC version was a major inspiration for Lord Vaughn.)

— Keeping with the classics, Valmont, the hero (or anti-hero?) of Dangerous Liaisons. He and Richardson’s Lovelace would have a great deal to discuss.

— Vidal of Georgette Heyer’s Devil’s Cub, who is well on his way to going the way of Lovelace or Valmont when he accidentally kidnaps Mary Challoner– fortunately for him. Devil’s Cub is still up there as one of my all time favorite Georgette Heyer novels, which is saying rather a lot.

— Lord Vaughn of my own Seduction of the Crimson Rose. You name it, he’s tried it. If he has scruples, they’re buried deeply enough that they don’t trouble him. For the most part.

— Sebastian of Lisa Kleypas’s The Devil in Winter, who has proved his rakish bona fides by showing, in a previous book, that he has it in him to attempt to, er, forcibly seduce his best friend’s future bride. His gradual redemption is a true tour de force.

Can you think of any other mad, bad, and dangerous to know rakes in recent– or not so recent– fiction?


  1. Sheila on August 12, 2013 at 10:24 am

    All-time classic of coursed: Rhett Butler !

  2. Sheila on August 12, 2013 at 10:25 am

    All-time classic of course: Rhett Butler !

  3. Sheila on August 12, 2013 at 10:28 am

    darn captcha “catched” me, sorry for the double post.

  4. Betty S. on August 12, 2013 at 12:37 pm

    I loved Sebastian, St. Vincent in The Devil in Winter also! Recently read Mary Balogh’s The Notorius Rake and would recommend Edmund Waite and his story in this one. Also, just read Balogh’s Mistress series and think Jocelyn Dudley, Duke of Tresham fits the bill quite nicely. His story is in More Than a Mistress.

  5. Joanne M. on August 12, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    Love all of the rakes already mentioned! I particularly enjoyed Sebastian Ballister in Lord of Soundrels by Loretta Chase.

    • AngelB on August 12, 2013 at 11:29 pm

      Great choice!

  6. Pat D on August 12, 2013 at 1:47 pm

    I saw a movie ages ago with Sean Bean as a rake. Couldn’t remember the name of it but it must have been Clarissa. Gads. That was not a story with a happy ending. I just read Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean. It was entertaining.

  7. Alice on August 12, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    “The Rake” by Mary Jo Putney. He certainly sowed some wild oats! And “Reforming Lord Ragsdale” by Carla Kelly.

  8. Alice on August 12, 2013 at 5:53 pm

    “The Rake” by Mary Jo Putney and “Reforming Lord Ragsdale” by Carla Kelly.

  9. AngelB on August 12, 2013 at 11:31 pm

    Francis Alistair St. Claire Dominic Charles Edward Rohan, Comte De Giverney, Viscount Rohan, Bron of Glencoe from Anne Stuart’s Ruthless. He’s such a rake he’s bored with it. 🙂

  10. Sherri on August 13, 2013 at 12:19 pm

    Damerel from Georgette Heyer’s Venetia. 🙂

  11. leslie on August 13, 2013 at 1:37 pm

    Dain and Damerel are such classic examples of rakes. My choice is Reggie Davenport from Mary Jo Putney’s The Rake and the Reformer. He is so very appealing, I’d have to say he’s my favorite hero in the regency genre.

    • Denise Metcalf on August 15, 2013 at 3:56 pm

      Reggie was my first thought, as well. Simply a wonderful character, and a great book!

  12. Laura Mitchell on August 14, 2013 at 9:58 am

    I read and re-read the Devil in Winter until it almost fell apart. of all Lisa Kleypas’s Wallflower books I think that one is my favorite.

    Lord Vaughn is quite the intriguing fellow.

  13. jeffrey on August 14, 2013 at 2:18 pm

    I’m reading Amanda Grange’s The Silverton Scandal and although I’m only 1/3 the way through it Lord Silverton is definitely one of those guys you are asking about.

    Ms. Grange has fashioned together a complex, menacing, dangerous anti-hero. He’s really carrying a fascinating story along for me.

    Pitted up against him is the courageous heroine who, although terrified of him at times, is also mysteriously attracted to him and him to her.

  14. Helen on August 14, 2013 at 8:08 pm

    I liked both Devil’s Cub’s Vidal and Venetia’s Damarel. Another rake I liked was Francis Crawford of the Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett. You never know whether he is hard hearted and cynical or acting in cover until the end.

  15. Louise B on August 17, 2013 at 9:00 pm

    What about Roly Mathieson from Patricia Veryan’s Golden Chronicles series. In the first 5 books, he is definitely not a good guy, although there are glimmers. Like other bad guys mentioned previously, he tries to seduce the heroine away from the hero. Then Roly meets his Fiona in The Dedicated Villain, one of my all time favorite stories.

    The first Elizabeth Peters I ever read was Legend in Green Velvet back in the ’70’s when I was in high school and going through my love of all things Scotland phase. Because it was my first of her books, it holds a special place in my heart.

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