Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues edited by Christina Boyd
So here we are with the final post, the conclusion to Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues. It is always nice to finish something you start, but at the same time sad that it is ending.
So quick review. For those of you who missed posts 1, 2, & 3, Dangerous to Know is a compilation novel of the bad boys of Jane Austen-Mr. Willoughby, Mr. Wickham, Captain Tilney, General Tilney, Mr. Elliot, Mr. Thorpe, and more.
A great thing about this book is that with these men, besides Wickham, we don’t know that much about their past or who they are. Most only play a small role-but have a big impact. This allows the authors a ton of wiggle room and almost anything can happen.
As these are rakes, rogues, & villians-they aren’t the best of men. Their stories being sexy
And I just want to say thank you to Christina Boyd for including this little chart to help you:
Mature Content Guidelines:
- None: Possible kissing and affection.
- Mild: Kissing.
- Moderate: Some sexual references but not explicit.
- Mature: Some nudity and some provocative sex.
- Erotic: Explicit, abundance of sex.
Because not everyone is interested in books like this:
It’s nice giving us a head’s up, so those that aren’t interested know to skip or skim, or those that do-can enjoy.
So first we had the none posts, which had stories on Captain Fredrick Tilney, General Tilney and John Thorpe from Northanger Abbey; along with Sir Walter Elliot from Persuasion. I loved these stories as some of these men I love to hate and it made me hate them ever more: And some men I have hated and actually began to like them:
Then came the mild posts. I was really surprised with these stories as they were on Tom Bertram from Mansfield Park and Colonel Fitzwilliam Darcy from Pride and Prejudice. I had never thought of these two as rogues, mostly because they have two of the biggest, baddest Austen rogues-Henry Crawford and George Wickham. The stories were really good and sucked me in, making it very hard to stop reading.
Then came the moderate. These had stories on Frank Churchill from Emma, Mr. Elliot from Persuasion, and Mr. Willoughby from Sense and Sensibility. I really enjoyed them as each author gave us a fresh view into the characters-before they enter the Austen novels. They really fleshed those men out while making me still hate those guys.
This last one will be Mature-Some nudity and some provocative sex. So with out further ado-bring on the bad boys!
A Wicked Game by Katie Oliver
So we start off with George Wickham, Austen’s most notorious bad boy. Reams upon reams have been written about him.
George Wickham was raised with Mr. Darcy and frittered away the money the elder Mr. Darcy left for his education; later tried to take off with Darcy’s sister; ran up debts all over town while smearing Darcy’s name; and runs of with Lydia Bennet. He’s one really bad boy.
This story begins in 1812, with Wickham fighting for the British army and is struck by the enemy. As he is injured, his life flashes before him and he finds himself wanting. He thinks back to where he all started on this profligate path:
We travel back to Derbyshire 1800. Wickham is heading to church with Mr. Darcy Sr and Jr. It is the summer before he is to start his first year at Cambridge and he is a restless young man.
Especially today as he finds church dull. (And this guy seriously thinks he is going to be a minister?) But then he spots her, a vision-Lady Clémence Harlow, widow and sister-in-law to Mrs. Fanshaw. He gets to meet the beautiful and stylish woman and is smitten.
The Fanshaws join the Darcy’s for dinner and Wickham sits across from Lady Harlow so he can spend the whole night looking at her.
While at the table-Wickham realizes how dissatisfied he is with his life. Everything is plotted and planned by Mr. Darcy Sr., he has no say. He would love anything out of this blueprint-such as the lovely Lady Harlow, which the Darcy’s can’t stand. He’s at a crossroads and leaning toward the crazy path, more than the steady one.
That night a big storms comes up, so the Fanshaw party has to remain at Pemberley. Wickham approaches Lady Harlow for a bit of flirting and she plans to meet him later-in his room.
He waits for her to come, but she never does. At one point he thinks he hears angry voices and a door closing-but Lady Harlow never appears-except in his dreams.
The next day he is grumpy and mad at Lady Harlow for standing him up. She conspires to get them alone and apologizes, blaming it on the brandy they drank. She invites him to walk with her and they take off into he woods. They can’t stay too long and return to the house. Lady Harlow promising that they will have a chance in the future.
Wickham is grim until a ball at cousin Fitzwilliam’s house occurs. The Fanshaw family is going too, this could be his night. Mr. Darcy Sr, doesn’t like Lady Harlow and cautions Wickham against her, but he doesn’t care.
He finally gets a chance to dance with Lady Harlow that night and the two make plans to run off to a hotel and France together.
He makes his way out there, pretending to be traveling with a friend, but using him as a cover. His friend tries to warn him that things won’t go well-Lady Harlow is not the woman for him, but he won’t listen.
He gets in the room and the two:
But in the morning there is no Lady Harlow…just Darcy!
Okay, not like that-they aren’t in bed together or anything. Wickham wakes up to Darcy in the room. Lady Harlow never intended to take him with her, she used him to get what she wanted and for Darcy to pay her off, £500.
It turns out the lady is a gold digger. First she tried to seduce Darcy, when that failed to be “compromised” into marriage, and lastly use Wickham to wrangle some cash.
Wickham continued down his path, but as his life is saved in Spain he looks at life with new eyes-seeing that he should change the person he is and become better.
Thoughts After Reading:
I thought it was an interesting view into Wickham, a softer side if you will. I liked seeing Wickham made a fool of, he angers me down to my core so I took great pleasure in it. But then you realize that he pulls the same scam on Georgina, what scum.
Last Letter to Mansfield by Brooke West
Oh Henry Crawford, one of the biggest rakes and rogues in all of Austen’s work. He is taken charge of his sister, Mary, when his Uncle scandalously moves the mistress into the house. He and his sister visit the Bertram family where he flirts with the engaged elder sister Maria and the younger sister, Julia. Later, he decides to bring their cousin Fanny into his web, but ends up falling for her.
Fanny seeing that Henry is no good, sidesteps him. Later, he and married Maria take off together. He and his sister try to get him back in Fanny’s good graces, but no dice with Fanny.
I was really interested in this as I have always wondered what the heck was going through Henry’s mind? Why run off with a married woman?
So the story starts off after all that happened. Henry is trying to write a letter to Fanny to beg her back. He’s been with Maria for months, but wishes it was Fanny. He is dying to go back, but…can’t. He tells her that he din’t want to seduce Maria, had no plans to…
We go back…
Henry and Maria have been together for a while. Maria is angry and getting ready to leave as nothing turned out how she wished. Maria loved being in charge at Mansfield Park as the eldest woman, then as Mrs. Rushworth, but now she is a scandal and staying at an inn in the middle of nowhere. Henry keeps trying to get rid of her-but she doesn’t want to leave-she has nowhere to go.
So what happens now?
So what happens now?
Where am I going to?
[Peron:] You’ll get by, you always have before
[Mistress:] Where am I going to?
[Eva:] Don’t ask anymore -Hello and Goodbye from Evita
Maria hoped to be with the sexy, charming man rather than her simple husband and is angry that nothing has come from it. Henry blames Maria for seducing him-and causing him to lose his love.
Wow, real mature. You need to take responsibility for YOUR actions.
Henry spends as much time away from Maria but returns every night and uses her for sex-wanting to hurt her, making her cry every night.
Eventually, Maria gives up and leaves with her Aunt Norris, the only one who doesn’t hold her responsible for her sins.
Henry goes home to his sister, Mary. Poor Mary, I actually feel sorry for her. She went from the scandal of her uncle to the scandal of her brother. Unfortunately, the men will go on but what about her? She’s too sullied by them.
Five Months Earlier
Henry and Maria met up again and they had a night of fun together. Henry hopes to walk it off, no needs to know-but Maria craves it. She hopes to run off with him and have him marry her-even going as far as to follow him when he leaves for home. She had planned to trap him, and Henry in his vanity fell right in it.
18-year old Henry and his uncle are out together, his uncle deciding it is time for his nephew to become a “man”. His uncle buys him his first, Arabella- beautiful young woman. She teaches him how to make love
He loves being with her and seeks her again and again, something his uncle notices and does not care for, as women are nothing but tools to be used.
One day he goes to be with her and finds his uncle on top of her.
After that, they were all the same to him-somethig to have his needs met, nothing more. Basically the Joe of Say Anything:
Corey Flood: Hi Joe, How are you? I love you.
Joe: I love you too.
Corey Flood: You invade my soul
Joe: I want to get back together, Mimi is gonna go to college and I’m gonna be alone and I’m gonna break up with her before she leaves, have sex with me.
Until Fanny, but that’s over.
He finishes his letter to Fanny, pouring everything out into it…and then throwing it on the fire. The rakish roguish Crawford must live on.
Thoughts After Reading:
Like Wickham we regress into boyhood, get a very different view of the character than seen before. Although I still didn’t feel bad for him, no one made you do it and you can’t keep blaming women, “Fanny of only you had loved me”, “Maria, if only you hadn’t seduced me.” What about what you did, punk? Hmm…
This did make me view Mary in a completely different way. Poor girl, she has the worst guardians, and she will be forever tainted by their shame. What will be come of her?
So now that we have reviewed the stories let’s talk about the other question on people’s minds: How sexy was the sexy parts?
The sexy parts were pretty sexy. If that is what you enjoy, than you will definitely like it. If it isn’t something you like reading, than like I’ve said before, they don’t make up the entire story so you can skim/skip it. There is something for everyone.
So my final conclusion:
I LOVED It! I thought it was an amazing addition to any Jane Austen fan’s bookshelf. Each author was able to write a wonderful story that took the few scenes we had of each character and really flesh them out to a complete story. One thing I really enjoyed was that in doing so, each author kept true to Jane Austen’s story. True, they are creating their own tale but none of these men seemed too out of character or so radically different that it causes Jane Austen to roll over in her grave. You can tell that each story was lovingly written, in honor of Jane, but still allowed each author their own individual style. I highly recommend it. You should read it now!
Yes! If interested, here is the Amazon link
But this book did leave me with one question: Christina Boyd will you be editing a book on the bad girls of Jane Austen?
Can you see it? Lucy Steele and Mrs. Fanny Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility; Lydia Bennet and Caroline Bingley from Pride and Prejudice; Maria Bertram, Julia Bertram, and Mary Crawford from Mansfield Park; Mrs. Elton from Emma; Isabella Thorpe from Northanger Abbey; Mrs. Clay from Persuasion. Think about it…
For more reviews of Dangerous to Know, go to Dangerous to Know, Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues: MODERATE
For more by Christina Boyd, go to Dangerous to Know, Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues: MILD
For more Mansfield Park, go to Read Jane Austen, Wear Jane Austen
For more Pride and Prejudice, go to The Retellings Strike Back: Pride & Prejudice, cont.
THANK YOU for this review series! So glad you enjoyed it — and you really donseem to get what our intent. Stay true to canon whilst telling the other side of their tale…and not all can be redeemed or even excused if we were to remain true to Austen. XO
No plans yet for a Bad Girls Anthology Big we did publish “Rational Creatures” last autumn about Austen’s heroines or unlikely heroines… if you are interested. Lots of surprises yet still canon like Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues.
I’m looking forward to Rational Creatures, although it probably won’t be for a while-unfortunately, I have some other things I have to get to. 😦