Each time I read a book by Janna MacGregor, I am so excited to see where the plot will take us next! It's always a surprise, usually a pleasant one, and when I finish the book, I am left thinking about it for several days, mulling over the characters and their lives in my mind. Wild, Wild Rake was such a book, particularly with the heartbreaking beginning, throwing the reader into immediate emotions and wanting to beat up the heroine's now-deceased husband. This book also provided a unique opportunity to read about a religious hero, in a romance that is definitely not what one would term an "inspirational" romance. No closed doors for this couple in love.
Lady Avalon Warwyk has been done with men for the last ten years, ever since being forced to marry a man who hated her and bearing his son while his mistress had her own. She built a life for her son away from society, focusing on charity work and building a community in the village near her husband's country estate. All of that is threatened, however, when her son's guardian sends his brother to spy on her. Mr. Devan Farris is a fourth son who hoped to enter the army but instead entered the clergy. He used to hate Avalon after she jilted his friend in favor a titled gentleman, but after witnessing her humiliation at the hands of her husband, and her response to it, he has admiration and sympathy for her situation. As they are forced into each other's company and grow closer, old wounds are opened, and only love can help them find their way to happiness.
The romance in this book was more complex than I am used to, with a lot of history between the main characters that should throw a wrench into their plans. I naturally assumed they would eventually have a time where they hashed out their differences, and while they danced around it, I don't feel like those differences were truly resolved. They were just brushed under the rug, Avalon had a lot of pain in her past, and she let how men treated her before to cloud her judgment. There was a misunderstanding about midway through the book, and even though Devan had done his best to ease Avalon's mistrust of the situation, it took quite a bit of time for them to recover. Particularly when Avalon discover's Devan's secret, which, in all honesty, I had a hard time believing myself. All in all, they were a great couple together who had to work through a lot of issues, and I thought that the way things ended just showed how strong they both were.
I will say this book had quite a lot of religious references, which, if not for the fact that the romantic scenes were not closed door, would lead me to believe this was an inspirational romance. The hero is a vicar, so naturally he's going to lend toward the religious and you'll hear it quite often. It was somewhat confusing for me to wrap my head around, because I usually don't see a lot of religious content in mainstream historical romance books. Janna wrote the character very well though, and she did a good job balancing his profession with who he was as a man.
Very excited to see what she writes next! Janna Macgregor is always a go-to author for me.
**I received a free book via NetGalley and this is my honest review.**