Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
In a word, the newest anthology, Rake I’d Like to F…, is titillating (beyond measure.) It would be easy to call it “smutty;” in doing so, however, it would be reductive. Each of the talented authors in this anthology has brought the steam factor, ratcheting it up to a 5. However, infused in their $exy historical tales are messages about autonomy, diversity, and power dynamics. It would be easy to focus solely on the eroticism of this new book, but you would miss out on the endeavors of this anthology and its predecessor to infuse equity into the historical fiction genre. So what should you expect with the stories of Rake I’d Like to F…?
“The Last Crimes of Peregrine Hill” by Sierra Simone
As always, Simone has crafted an elegant, beautifully wrought story infused with erotic romance. This is an MM romance between a highwayman bent on revenge and a $exually adventurous, seemingly irresponsible brother of a duke, the rake of this story. Peregrine and Sandy steam up the pages, while also stealing your heart.
“Two Rakes for Mrs. Sparkwell” by Eva Leigh
What is not to love about a MFM story! Especially one set in 1700s London. Vivian Sparkwell is determined to control her future. A widow hoping to tarnish her reputation so that she can live a solitary, comfortable life, she asks Rushton Cantley, renowned rake, to ruin her so she cannot be married again. Ruston is intrigued with her and agrees to it, not realizing that she will steal his heart. Rush’s friend, Jack, is also beguiled by Vivian’s kindness and empathy, and they realize that they are a perfect throuple. Unfortunately, Rush is so good at his intrigue, and Vivian falls so easily under his spell that her reputation becomes too tarnished for them to continue as a threesome. However, this is romance, and they find a way in the end. This story challenges the lack of authority women had over their lives during this time, and Vivian’s characterization decidedly challenges that societal norm. What should be wholly erotic becomes a treatise on autonomy.
“A Rake, His Patron, & The Muse” by Nicola Davidson
This story is all MMF. Unlike “Two Rakes…” and the other stories in this anthology, “A Rake, His Patron & The Muse” is just plain fun. This is the smut of Rake I’d Like to F… Every turn of the page of this story draws you into an erotic world that leaves everyone satiated in the end…including the reader.
“Monsieur X” by Adriana Herrera
Monsieur X is probably my favorite story of this anthology. It’s a MM story with its own batch of eroticism. However, there is a sensitivity to the characterizations here. Of the 5 stories, the rakishness of this story is the most innocuous. Instead, the main POV, Cantor, is a man looking for more without the hope of it. Given the danger of a same-sex relationship at this time, he only allows himself dalliances at a $ex club. When he meets X at the club, though, he craves more. For me, the depth of characterization, the insistence on diverse characters, and the overall story grabbed my heart from its beginning.
“Sold to the Duke” by Joann Shupe
Sold to the Duke is my second favorite story of the five. It’s an MF story. Don’t get me wrong; I enjoyed every story in this anthology. They are well-written and exhilarating in their articulation. However, “Sold to the Duke” underscores the lack of authority of a woman with a noble background. The heroine of the story, Eliza, has been forced to sell herself in order to care for her sister. Having lost her family and the title associated with it, she has fought to mete out a life for her sister without the assistance of friends or extended family. When her autonomy becomes threatened by the friend of her brother who buys her at auction, she continues to fight to maintain her choice and independence. This fight is an important one, and I loved reading it in the pages of Shupe’s story.
Sometimes, you read an anthology and most of the stories are great, but there might be one or two that could be stronger. Across the board, Rake I’d Like to F… is well-written, intentional, and the perfect way to while away a weekend.
In love and romance,