Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes and Gentleman Rogues – A Review
Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes and Gentleman RoguesSketching the Characters of Jane Austen’s Bad Boys! Rating: 5 out of 5 stars OVERVIEW: After delivering a splendidly successful and praiseworthy short story anthology devoted to Mr. Darcy, editor Christina Boyd and a team of skilled and imaginative authors have decided to join forces again for Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes and Gentleman Rogues. This time to divulge the inner workings, untold heartaches, and sometimes scandalous pasts of Jane Austen’s anti-heroes, villains, and charming scoundrels. Eleven roguish characters, eleven talented authors, and eleven fascinating tales of human nature and romance. However the question does remain – can these bad boys be redeemed? MY READING EXPERIENCE: All stories in this anthology take place during the Regency period – either during, before, or slightly after the original stories’ timeline. Some of the characters featured in this collection are truly nefarious villains like George Wickham, Henry Crawford, and Captain Tilney, and some are more tame with their bad behavior such as Frank Churchill, John Thorpe, and Colonel Fitzwilliam. In addition, some are gentlemen rogues from the previous generation – Sir Walter Elliot and General Tilney (we know those two are far from innocent!) I read all the stories in order and I thought it was very clever that they were arranged in accordance with the order of novels published by Jane Austen (starting with Sense and Sensibility and ending with Northanger Abbey). The stories ranged from 22 to 38 pages in length and I mostly read one to two stories in each sitting. (I enjoyed savouring each story and reflecting on it before diving into the next one.) If I were to give a star rating for each individual story, there would be mostly 5 star ratings for all with just one 4.5 or 4 star rating among the group. MY ASSESSMENT: How incredibly excited I am that an anthology like this finally exists! Although I adore Mr. Darcy and love reading stories from his point of view, I love it even more when authors shine their spotlights on and flesh out some of Jane Austen’s other creations. Just like with The Darcy Monologues, Dangerous to Know met and exceeded my high expectations and hopeful desires. Each story was thoughtfully composed, skillfully executed, and wonderfully plausible. In addition, I loved the elegant formatting of this compilation and I appreciated all the extra touches like the mature content rating system, foreword, acknowledgments, and informative characters introductions. However, what I admired and loved most about this anthology was the diverse and unique treatment these rakes and rogues received by the pens of these authors. Some authors revealed the past and gave new understanding of why these characters became unscrupulous cads, while others illustrated how even these hardened rakes can find themselves caught unawares by stirrings of a powerful love. I greatly enjoyed the many creative ways these authors told their tales – the backstories they provided, the clever twists they employed, and the new characters they introduced. I also appreciated the fact that not all these characters were redeemed, and not all lived their lives happily-ever-after – they can’t be like Jane Bennet and make them all good. 😉 I admired the honesty about characters and their natures, but I must admit my romantic heart loved seeing some tender tales of how the love of a good woman can irrevocably change a man. 🙂 I loved the feelings that these stories evoked in me, and how these thoughtful character developments induced me to feel more sympathy and compassion for these characters than I have ever felt before. Yes, even for the truly nefarious rogues! Their pain and disappointment, their insecurity and jealousy, their remorse and regret, their infatuation and devotion were all sensitively rendered and palpably felt. CONCLUSION: Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes and Gentlemen Rogues is another sensational release from Christina Boyd and her team! While this anthology highlights Jane Austen’s bad boys, it also pays tribute to her powers of perception and observations of human nature. I commend Christina and all the talented authors of this anthology for constructing another insightful, stimulating, and remarkably high-caliber anthology for we readers to enjoy! I emphatically recommend! NOTE: With some stories marked “mature,” I’d recommend this story for mature readers.
***Meredith is the blogger behind this wonderful Dangerous To Know post from Austenesque Reviews, shared with us with her kind permission. Austenesque Reviews was founded in 2009 as a blog devoted to the reading and reviewing the hordes of Austenesque novels that are recently published, as well as the ones that were published years ago.