The Riddle of the Reluctant Rake

By Patricia Veryan

“I believe I am innocent, Mama. I cannot prove it. At the moment. But … it would have been nice if one or two of you could have stood by me.”

“Your arm! Oh, mercy, I shall swoon! No – I haven’t the time!”

After reading the first two in her ‘Riddle” series, I was not anxious to read the last two books. I was very disappointed in Jack Vespa’s adventures and kind of thought Patricia had lost her magic. 20 years later, I decided to finish reading all of her books at last (after reading her earlier books several time each.) I am happy to report that #3 in the series largely restores Veryan’s magic in my eyes.

It’s not the best book she ever wrote but it is very good. It contains all of the ingredients Patricia is known for and does so well. A cracking good duel, an exciting ride ventre a terre across the English countryside on a mission of life or death, A maligned and humiliated hero searching to restore his good name, Loyal friends who alone support him, etc. etc. This book, like some of her best, features some good humor, a load of Interesting and amusing characters, a likable love interest, a good who-dun-it and why, and some truly hiss-worthy villains. As always her hero has to hit bottom before things start to look up. This occurs at about the 40% mark, and it is truly painful. Veryan is adept at raising her heroes from near dead in the water before they emerge triumphant. Once Hastings Adair gets some important allies, the book becomes very enjoyable. I can only endure so much pain and frustration!
This book has lots of action and adventure, a nice romance, Political machinations, and many characters that I’d love to meet again but probably won’t in the last two books in the series I have yet to read. Oh, and we have a nice shout out to Camille Damon the hero of one of her first novels, Love’s Duet His story will follow a year later, in 1815. I love the way she ties all of her books together and puts them in the same universe. I know the next book, The Riddle of the Shipwrecked Spinster features at least 2 old friends from the Golden Chronicles, The Cranford Twins. So cool. **4 out of 5 stars**

August 9, 2020

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