Wednesday, 30 May 2012

THE RAKE'S PROGRESS THROUGH LITERATURE


Hi everyone,
Because I write about rakes in my historical romances and my new release, THE RELUCTANT MARQUESS features a rake, I thought I’d take a look at where it all began.

A rake (short for rakehell) is a historic term for a man of immoral conduct. His wealth allowed him to live as he pleased and he shirked duty and marriage for pleasure. In 18th Century England, a rake was seen to be someone who wasted his inherited fortune on gambling, wine and women incurring vast debts. He was also known to seduce innocent young women and desert them after they fell pregnant.
 
In Restoration English comedy  (1660-1688) the rake was a carefree, witty, sexually irresistible aristocrat. The merry gang of courtiers, of which the 2nd Duke of Buckingham and the Earl of Dorset were a part, combined riotous living with intellectual pursuits and patronage of the arts.
After the end of Charles II rein, however, the rake took a dive into squalor. His fate was sealed in debtor's prison, venereal disease or in the case of William Hogarth's series of paintings, A Rake's Progress, insanity in Bedlam.
In 1935 a ballet was made of The Rake’s Progress
In 1945 a movie
Ivor Stravinsky wrote an opera based on Hogarth’s paintings in 1951.  

 This thoroughly unattractive rakehell has been turned into a brooding hero by authors such as the Bronte sisters, and later, Georgette Heyer and Barbara Cartland. In modern historical romances, he continues to be redeemed by a feisty heroine.  These stories have a happy ending.

While not all rakes in current romances are quite so black, they are reluctant to give up their rakish ways and settle down. Lord Robert, Marquess of St. Malin certainly fits this description and it takes a country girl, Charity Barlow to tame him.

My books featuring Georgian and Regency rakes:  
THE RELUCTANT MARQUESS
HOW TO TAME A RAKE
LOVE AND WAR
REGENCY BUCK (PRINT ANTHOLOGY)
SURRENDER TO DESTINY


            AMAZON BUY LINK
PG Excerpt
  Cornwall, 1786
The carriage rocked as it traveled along the cliff road. Charity Barlow grabbed the window frame with one hand, and the edge of her seat with the other, to hold herself steady. Following her parents’ deaths in a carriage accident some months before, she was a little nervous at the best of times.
The coachman’s curse was followed by a crack of the whip.
This rugged coastline was foreign to her and different from anything she had ever known. Through the mist, she glimpsed the white-tipped waves of the ocean pounding the black rocks below. The colors reminded her of death, and the rhythmic boom, boom, boom filled her with the same dread she experienced when a tolling church bell signaled a village disaster.
Tamping down the fear of tumbling to her death, Charity pulled her cloak closer, and directed her thoughts to what might await her in the castle on the cliff overlooking the sea.
Unfortunately, this produced anxieties of a different sort.
Charity had not seen her godfather, the Marquess of St Malin, since she was fifteen. Now, at two and twenty years of age, she found herself entirely alone and at his mercy. She
remembered him as tall and somewhat haughty. Her father
had saved his life when he fell overboard during a boat race
on the river at Cambridge, and after that, they had become
firm friends.
Now her fate lay in the marquess’ hands, for he had said as
much to her father years ago. She was grateful for his kindness,
of course, but would have much preferred to remain snug
amid the green fields of Oxfordshire with her old governess
who was like one of the family. This was now impossible,
for her father had left very little money after making bad
investments on the ’Change.
Her childhood home had been sold to pay off debts and
Nanny sent to live with her sister in Kent.
The carriage reached a bend in the road and the solid stone
walls of the castle loomed ahead, the outline of its battlements
imposing against the darkening sky. At the sight of the massive
structure, a prickling sensation rose up her spine. She half
expected to see knights in armor riding towards her.
Lights from the braziers along the walls danced on the
waters of the moat. The coach rattled across a drawbridge and
entered the arched gatehouse in a towering stone wall. They
came to a stop in a courtyard. Moments later, the groom put
down the steps and opened the door. The sense of relief at
finding herself on solid ground was short-lived as she stepped
down onto mossy cobbles and stood, disorientated, in the
swirling sea mist.
A door was flung open, spilling candlelight into the gloom
like a welcoming hand. She hurried towards it and entered a
lofty, stone-paved hall. Heavy Tudor beams and ornate timber
paneling spoke of its origins.
A liveried footman stood waiting. “I’ll take ye to the
master. He’s in the library.”
Her heart beat unnaturally fast as Charity followed the
servant up a stone stairway and along a corridor. Candles
flickered in their sconces along the walls, lighting huge
tapestries depicting bloody battles. She tried to rake up some
clear memories of the marquess, but he’d seemed of little
interest to her back then, beyond his eccentric manner. He
had smiled with warmth upon her father, she remembered.
But that wasn’t surprising; a cultured man who quoted
Shakespeare at the drop of a hat, Father had enormous charm.
Now she was in this man’s debt. Would he be kind to her?
The footman knocked on a solid oak door. “Enter.”
She stepped with trepidation into the room and was
embraced by warmth. A fire blazed in the baronial fireplace
where a liver-spotted spaniel lifted its head to study her. After
a thump of a tail, its head sank to its paws again, lulled back
to sleep by the heat. Above the fireplace, the painting of a
hunting scene featured several dogs. Two tall china spaniels
flanked the fireplace mantel. The heavy oak beams across the
ceiling, and walls covered floor to ceiling in shelves of tomes
made the room seem snug. Charity rushed over and crouched
on the Oriental rug beside the animal, giving it a pat. The
dog’s tail thumped harder. “You’re a nice fellow, aren’t you?”
Her stiff cold muscles loosened, and the icy pit at the base of
her stomach began to thaw. Maybe she could be happy here.
She loved dogs.
“Welcome to Castle St Malin.”
A man rose from behind a massive mahogany desk strewn
with papers in the corner of the room. He crossed the room
to greet her. He was not her godfather. She caught her breath.
He was tall, his dark hair drawn back in a queue, and there
was something of the marquess’ haughty demeanor about
his handsome face, but she doubted he’d yet reached thirty.

You might like to read my free Regency story: Caroline and the Captain on my website.
My Spies of Mayfair Series begins with A BARON IN HER BED on September 6th.
Any information about my books can be found at: MAGGI ANDERSEN'S WEBSITE
MAGGI ANDERSEN'S BLOG

1 comment:

Christina said...

Sounds great, Maggi, there's nothing better than an irresistible rake! Look forward to reading this novel.