This review may contain spoilers, so fair warning, upon reading the review.
About The Book
Irresistible seduction only leads to…
War had scarred the Earl of Ashby’s face…and perhaps his soul. Before being wounded in the Napoleonic war and shunning society, the dashing lord had been a notorious rake. Now, Isabel Aubrey, a proper lady, dares to approach the masked, reclusive nobleman for a large donation to a worthy charity—and decides she must save him from his self-loathing. She begins to flirt. He responds. She invites him to a masquerade ball. He accepts and dazzles her with a kiss.
The most scandalous passion…
But Isabel already has a fiancé, and despite her attraction to the earl, she knows she must reject him. Yet no force on earth is greater than the passion that leads her into his bed; nothing she has ever experienced is more exciting and erotic. Now he asks her to stay with him although it will mean her ruin. Isabel must not say yes—and the smitten earl cannot let her say no. To win her body and her heart, he initiates an outrageous scheme that only a rake would devise—and no woman can resist.
Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds, or bends with the remover to remove,’” she recited softly. “‘Oh, no; it is an ever-fixed mark, that looks on tempests, and is never shaken.
Once a Rake was a high impulse read and I had no clue what I was missing out on until I read this one. I actually was pointed towards this story when a friend on Goodreads pointed it was only .99 cents on Amazon (and it might still be that price so I would check it out) and I started to read the sample and I was completely drawn into the story and I couldn’t put it down, so I immediately bought the book and started reading it and I was so captivated by this story. Instantly you are drawn into the story and there is such a sense of intensity to the story and there was this spark of life that is present throughout the whole story and I have to say it has been so LONG since a regency romance was such a win for me. So many regencies of late have been —-and I hate to say it this way but BORING and generic and nothing exciting but in this standalone, I was on the edge of my seat brimming with excitement and I realized THIS is what I have been missing in historicals and why I have become so burnt out and I definitely will be picking up more historicals released around this time frame because apparently that have the content that I am looking for.
Becoming friends and lovers at the same time is the best thing that can happen to a man and a woman.
Isabel Aubrey has been Earl of Ashby since she was a teenager, he was her brother’s best friend and fought with her brother in Waterloo, but now he has been back and even though her brother didn’t survive, Ashby did even though he has scars and hides himself like a recluse in his home, but what Isabel doesn’t realize is that Ashby has also been in love with her for years and suffers shame from the time in the war and can’t bring himself to face her. Isobel is a bluestocking and always out helping those less fortunate. But her current endeavor is to help those widows and families suffering from the effects of the war. And she is working on getting legislation passed through the House of Lords and she needs the influence that Ashby would have with his position has in society. At first, Ashby is determined to not help Isobel, but her sweet charming nature slowly warms his heart and makes him believe that they could have a future together. A deep passion will rise between them but the past and Ashbys self doubt could ruin the bond of trust and affection that they are building with each other and he will have to work his heart and body into winning his lady’s heart and prove his love to her…
Real men cried, quietly, privately, as Paris did, because his heart was crying.
What I Loved
Once A Rake was such a brilliant standalone that quickly won my heart and I absolutely adored the way that this story developed. This does have a beauty and beast retelling of sorts and I really loved how this book kept me on my toes. I honestly never knew where this story would turn and I am realizing how predictable my historical’s have been in recent years, because there was such a flair of drama that was so well balanced, we see true honest emotions come to light and inner demons that Ashby will have to battle. The growth of their relationship was magnificent and I really enjoyed the chemistry because yeah it was steamier than I would have expected from a historical published in 2007. I was really fascinated with the time period too, as we are dealing with the Napaleonic war. We see such character growth in our main leads here but most especially our hero. He goes on such a journey because we do see a few flashbacks of him before the war where he was so energetic, full of laughter, and had such a fresh view of the world. Then we see what the war did to him and what he was forced to do especially as it pertains to Isabel’s brother and my heart just broke for him and then to see him as a broken man who with the help of Isabel who has such solid faith in him, to rebuild his life and learn to go out into society despite his scars. Then we see the beautiful changes in him just like we see in Beast from the fairytale and it was so life-changing seeing this growth throughout the whole story. As for the romance, these two definitely have their struggles and most of it stems from Ashby’s lack of faith in himself and i do like that Isabel was so understanding about it all and was willing to be so open-minded about what he was dealing with, and accepting him as the man he is. I will say don’t pay attention to the blurb because it mentions that Isabel has a fiancee….I don’t know what book they are referring to but she has no fiancee. She has suitors and there is a man that wants her hand but she avoids him like the plague haha so there isn’t any cheating or anything because she isn’t in a relationship with someone else. I think if you are looking for something more a historical then I can’t recommend this one enough to you. You definitely can’t go wrong with a Rona Sharon and she delivers a power-packed romance!!
As their gazes locked in silence, something rare and extraordinary happened between them: She felt his soul, and he felt hers. Their spirits touched. It was a bond forged by their mutual love and grief for her brother, as though Will himself had swept by to unite them and then vanished.
What I Struggled With
There wasn’t hardly anything I struggled with to be honest, I just loved everything about this one.
I found Once A Rake to be unpredictable, leaves you on edge with emotion and satisfying feels, a romance that will take you to new depths and leave you with some surprises along the way, and will addict you from beginning to end! A TRUE HISTORICAL JEWEL THAT IS A MUST-READ!
Title: Once A Rake
Author: Rona Sharon
Genre: Historical Romance
Length: 448 Pages
Storytelling Quality: 5
Story Itself: 4.75
Character Development: 5
Writing Style: 5
World Building 5
Feels + The Romantic Heart 5
Cover Art 3
Overall Rating of the Book
Simmering—soft warm touches and light intimacy
Warm- a medium level of sexual tension, a balance of sexual and emotional intimacy, lighter on the details in the sexual moments.
Steamin’ up the room -the sexual content is more explicit in the language and tone, heavier amount of sexual scenes.
Blazing fire to the building-The prime focus is the sex scenes, scorching hot, and could burn one. Less focus on the emotional intimacy to the relationship.
About The Author
Rona Sharon is the author of critically acclaimed historical novels of intrigue, passion, and danger. Her latest, ROYAL BLOOD, is a tale of lust and violence in the treacherous Tudor Court.
From her home on the Mediterranean Coast in Tel Aviv, surrounded by thousands of years of history, Rona brings her passion for culture and travel to her writing and never fails to deliver a story that carries a punch… and a dagger.