Jam packed with emotional trials and tribulations, Christi Caldwell's eleventh installment in the HEART OF A DUKE series, TO REDEEM A RAKE, is one of my favorite Christi Caldwell books to date and is bound to be one of your favorites as well.
Miss Daphne Smith spent her childhood enjoying every aspect a reckless young girl could possibly partake of. Many times, these adventures were shared with her neighbor, the young Daniel Winterbourne who also shared her sense for excitement. All that came to an end for Daphne when she was thrown from her horse at the age of ten and irreparably shattered her leg. That day, Daniel was there to carry her home, but their friendship would never be the same. Other tragedies widened the rift between the two and for over a decade their lives took very different paths.
Now over a dozen years later, left alone in the world, Daphne must find a way to support herself or be turned out from the cottage she grew up in. With her father's death still fresh in her heart, Daphne seeks employment at a school for girls near her home, but it quickly turned down for lack of references. How does one get references if no one will take a chance on her? Knowing that her crippled leg is her main disadvantage, Daphne tries never to use it as an excuse or a crutch. After being turned away from the school, Daphne discovers that her former friend, Daniel Winterbourne's sister, Alice has been let go as a student of the school and is waiting in vain for her brother to collect her. Daphne is angered on Alice's behalf and makes her way to the Winterbourne residence to give the former friend turned profligate rake, Daniel a piece of her mind. What she finds, is a glimmer of the boy she once knew so well, a man who has tossed away good sense for a life of debauchery.
Daniel Winterbourne, the Earl of Montfort's adult years to date have been filled with self gratification in every way, but when the self proclaimed rake is reunited with his childhood best friend, Daphne, his conscience begins to nibble away at his calm and cool exterior and those feelings her once had as a boy for his friend, threaten to come back full force if he doesn't watch himself. But does he honestly want to hold back?
Left with a unwanted sister who will get in the way of his wicked ways, Daniel hires Daphne to be Alice's companion after his uncle gives Daniel the ultimatum of curbing his depravity and finding Alice a husband. Should he achieve that, he would be the recipient of the 8,000 pounds his mother left for Daniel. Easier said than done? Maybe... but maybe not.
Having to leave the countryside for London and the Season terrifies Daphne, who suffered humiliation and a personal scandal at her own come out when she was seventeen. Putting those fears aside in order to help Alice, and finally get those references she so ardently covets has Daphne doing her best to stay strong. When that scandal comes back to slap her in the face, Daphne has no idea the bear she awakens in Daniel, who finally is faced with with a spectrum of emotions he kept forever hidden.
TO REDEEM A RAKE by the brilliant Christi Caldwell is a magnificent book filled with heartbreak and triumph. This book allows us to understand how things that happen in our lives can make or break us if we allow them to. This book also allows us to understand that anyone can overcome any adversity with determination and love. Even though Daniel and Daphne were separated by over a decade of suffering and hardship, that friendship they shared as children is a building block for a bright future. All they have to do is open up and let those emotions flow.