Hundreds of Years to Reform a Rake
Laurie Brown
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Buy *Hundreds of Years to Reform a Rake* by Laurie Brown online

Hundreds of Years to Reform a Rake
Laurie Brown
Sourcebooks Casablance
Paperback
400 pages
September 2007
rated 4 1/2 of 5 possible stars

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Despite the rather unwieldy title, this book is a really enjoyable read as we follow Josie Drummond back in time to solve a puzzle in England in 1815. She is working in England as a paranormal investigator in modern times when she meets the resident ghost of Castle Waite, Deverell Thornton, the ninth Earl of Waite, who asks her to go back in time with him to prevent his mother being defrauded by a gypsy and losing the family's money. This event contributed to the severe financial straits of his one remaining relative, Amelia Waite - the house is falling into wrack and ruin in modern times because of a lack of money.

Of course, Josie needs lots of education in how to behave as a young single woman in the Regency period, and Deverell and Amelia help with this. Then she is transported to 1815 and meets Dev's mother, Honoria, and some other houseguests, including the gypsy, but - unfortunately - also the flesh and blood Deverell, who is dangerously charming. She and the Regency Deverell work to find out who the gypsy is and, helped by the ghost Deverell, Josie tries to change the events of the future. However with the ghost waning energy threatening to strand her in the Regency period, and with her attraction to the Deverell of 1815, Josie's task is getting harder. Will she be able to leave the Regency period after all?

The descriptions of mealtimes, clothing, dancing and etiquette in the Regency period are fascinating. It all seems reasonably accurate but I was a little dubious about some facts (for example, it was discussed whether an Earl who is the younger son of a Duke is lower in the pecking order than an Earl who is the eldest son of a Marquis - but younger sons of Dukes don't inherit titles in the UK), and this meant that I wasn't entirely sure if what I was reading was fully correct. This is always disappointing in historical fiction, but I gave the author the benefit of the doubt in most cases and enjoyed all the little touches of information that she shared, such as the way that women wore gloves.

There are a few unfortunate errors in the UK setting of the book. For example, we are told about the 'Albert and Victoria Museum' (which is of course the Victoria and Albert Museum), English Regency people using American words such as 'nixed' and someone eating 'biscuits' with her egg and bacon at breakfast in 1815 ('biscuits' in English are equivalent to the American cookies, and breakfasts were usually ham or beef and ale rather than bacon and eggs). The point of view of the narration occasionally jumps from Josie to Dev for a couple of paragraphs and then back again, and that can be confusing as it's not always clear initially who is narrating.

Despite these few reservations, this is a very enjoyable read with Josie a feisty and independent character, and Deverell the ghost and Deverell the man both also very appealing. It's enjoyable to read a book with a mystery plot that isn't lost behind the romantic part of the book but works well alongside it. It is also an interesting idea to imagine how a modern woman would manage if transported back to the Regency period; clearly our morals and women's independence have changed significantly, and I have doubts as to how well Josie would fit in that world long-term. Nevertheless, it is an interesting idea, and the book never drags.



Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. Helen Hancox, 2007

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