‘The Good Girl’s Guide to Rakes’: a fun historical romance where appearances are quite deceiving

December 16, 2022

TITLE: The Good Girl’s Guide to Rakes (Last Chance Scoundrels, #1)
AUTHOR: Eva Leigh
GENRE: Historical Romance
PAGES: 367pg

When Kieran Ransome’s latest antics result in a massive scandal, his father issues an ultimatum: find a respectable wife or inherit nothing. But as one of London’s most inveterate scoundrels, Kieran doesn’t know any ladies who fit the bill. Or does he?

Celeste Kilburn is a society darling, beloved by influential members of the ton. But keeping a spotless reputation leaves little room for adventure and she longs to escape her gilded cage, especially with her impending engagement to a stuffy earl. When Kieran—her older brother’s best friend and an irresistibly attractive rogue—begs for her help, Celeste makes a deal: she’ll introduce him to the right social circles if he’ll show her the scandalous side of London.

In between proper teas and garden parties, Kieran escorts Celeste—disguised as “Salome”—to rowdy gaming hells, wild fêtes, and sensual art salons. As they spend more time together, their initial attraction builds to a desperate desire that neither can ignore. But when someone discovers their midnight exploits, Celeste’s freedom and reputation are endangered, and Kieran must save the woman he loves… respectable or not.

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I’ve been in a romance rut for a while and haven’t been in the mood for the genre (which has been a real bummer, since it’s usually one of my favorites!), but I’m happy to say that this one mostly managed to break through the rut and worked out pretty well for me. First, let me say that I ended up listening to the audiobook and the narrator was lovely!

Celeste had my heart from the very beginning of the book, and she only got better as it progressed. She’s such a wholesome, genuinely kind character who simply wants freedom to do as she pleases, and the entire storyline made me think a lot about how many women throughout history (and even now) have been kept in cages for no reason other than their femininity. Even though Celeste’s family truly does love her, their situation is so standard for their time and setting that they push her into situations she’s immensely unhappy in “for her own good”.

Kieran, on the other hand, had to win me over. I always start off with a healthy dose of skepticism when it comes to rakes because I worry that they won’t truly “reform”, but with Kieran, you quickly begin to realize that, despite his reputation, he’s respectful and holds consent and free will in very high regards. It doesn’t hurt that he’s already pining over Celeste when the story begins, but it could’ve gone south because she’s his best friend’s younger sister and I worried that too much of his angst would revolve around his friend, and not Celeste’s own feelings; thankfully, that wasn’t the case at all—Kieran genuinely wanted nothing but Celeste’s happiness and freedom. By the end of the book, I was fully rooting for him.

As for complaints: the writing felt repetitive at times (especially in one scene, where Kieran frequently reminds them both that it’s “just one night”), and all of the side characters felt like one-dimensional props, especially Dominic. I know we’re being set up for his book later in the series, but he was so pointlessly violent and obnoxious that it made me lose any interest whatsoever in reading his book. I might pick up book 2, since I did somewhat enjoy Kieran’s brother Finn, but I’ll most likely leave The Good Girl’s Guide to Rakes as a standalone in my mind.

All of those minor problems aside, this was a fun, spicy read with a lot of really neat settings for Celeste and Kieran’s adventures, and I enjoyed the underlying themes of feminism and empowerment tremendously. I definitely recommend this for anyone who enjoys historical romance!

Buddy read with the ever so lovely Sophril! ♥

content warnings →

misogyny, blackmail, mild violence

representation →

queer side characters


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More about Destiny @ Howling Libraries

Just a horror aficionado/geek girl trying to juggle motherhood, reading, blogging, gaming, and everyday life.

    1. This is an author that I’ve seen here and there and I definitely want to check out her books. Aside from the repetitive writing and the not-so-compelling side characters, this sounds like a great read. It always feels so good to read a book in a genre that finally works for you after not being able to find one that sticks from that genre for a while. Awesome review! 🙂

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