Reviewer: Jillean Wallace
Title: Barely a Lady - 1st in the Drake's Rakes series
Author: Eileen Dreyer
Publisher: Grand Central
Release Date: July 2010
Genre/Sub-genre: Historical Romance
Year/Setting: Belgium 1820
Overall Rating: 4.5
Sexual Content Rating: Sensual
Language (Profanity/Slang) Content Rating: Moderate
Violent Content Rating: Moderate
Eileen's Website/Blog: www.eileendreyer.com
Olivia Grace has spent the last five years trying to piece her life back together. Shortly after marrying the Earl of Gracechurch, Jack Wyndham, Olivia found herself the center of scandal. She was accused of having a gambling problem that put her in large amount of debt and of having an affair while still married. Once these issues came to the attention of her husband, he threw her out of their home and divorced her, ruining her reputation completely. Since then, Olivia has gone from home to home, city to city finding work when she could and trying to make her own way. Just as she thinks she has found her way, the events of the past find their way back into the light.
Olivia is cornered by her ex-husbandís relative, Gervaise. Gervaise has been searching for Olivia since she was thrown out by Jack. He has always wanted what Jack had and Olivia is the prettiest jewel in Jackís chest. Olivia finds solace and protection in the duchess and her friends as war wages through the country. The duchess enlists Oliviaís help in tending to the wounded soldiers as they come in. The duchess is no angel when it comes to scandal and actually knows who Olivia truly is, but waits for Olivia to tell her the news.
As Olivia is looking for more wounded in the battlefield, she comes upon a vaguely familiar face. As she gets closer, she realizes that she indeed knows the soldier: it is her ex-husband Jack. The only problem with Jack is that he wears the uniform of the enemy. Now Olivia must decide if she should save Jack and if she does, how she will explain how he is fighting for the enemy. Olivia decides to Jack back to the duchessís home and helps heal him. When Jack finally wakes from his fever, he canít remember anything that has happened in the past five years. Once he sees Olivia, he thinks they are still happily married. Olivia must help Jack remember what has happened before Gervaise and his accusations can ruin her life all over again.
These kinds of romances donít always catch my attention upon first glance. I decided to give this one a fighting chance. I will have to say I was pleasantly surprised at the sheer magnitude of this novel. Having been the first historical romance that Ms. Dreyer has written, I think itís a knockout hit. I loved how Olivia has been handed the worst possible hand and still manages to persevere. She goes off and works hard to make a name for herself without anyoneís help.
The ongoing war also gives Olivia a sense of purpose. These men donít care that she was involved in a scandal, they are just looking for a beautiful face and kind words to ease the suffering they have been dealt. I love the twist and turns of Gervaise finding her and how Jack comes back into her life. The way the story ends and the real story behind Jack and Oliviaís romance ending is sure to leave the readerís head spinning. I canít wait to see what Ms. Dreyer has up her sleeve for the next in the series.
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