Debut Review – Rakes and Radishes

Rakes and Radishes
by Susanna Ives
ebook – Carina Press $5.39


I loved Rakes and Radishes! This is one of the best books I’ve read all year. It made me cry. It made me laugh. It made me want to shake some sense into the main characters.

Ok, so I’ve become quite friendly with the author, Susanna Ives. She looks to be quite a bit younger than me, but we hit it off a while ago, and I really get a kick out of her. BUT, I’m telling you, I would not be reviewing this book if I didn’t love it. I had to ask her permission to review it because when we swapped books, she told me not to review it–she just wanted to know what I thought of it.

Anyway. Caveats aside.

Henrietta–how’s that for an non-glamorous heroine name?–dreams of London. She dreams of her future with her cousin, Edward, with whom she lately became secretly engaged. And she dreams of her favorite novel, the fictional The Mysterious Lord Blackraven. What she doesn’t dream of is a future with her grubby neighbor, even if he is the Earl of Kesseley. Kesseley is just a friend, but in him, she confides anything.

Kesseley is the one who dreams of a future with her. Henrietta knows this, and it makes things a bit awkward in their friendship.

When Henrietta learns that her cousin–a recently published and feted poet–is now engaged to one Lady Sara, this year’s Diamond debut, she feels betrayed and heartbroken. She comes up with a scheme to transform Kesseley into a rake–modeled on Lord Blackraven–so he can steal Sara away, leaving Henrietta to pick up the pieces.

Yeah, so she’s a twit. I have a soft spot for twits–especially when they have to grow up and become wise young ladies. And Henrietta does a lot of growing up in this novel.

Kesseley has his dreams firmly in the earth. He is a farmer, heart and soul, and turns his scientific mind toward increasing the crop yield and figuring out better irrigation methods. He is so NOT a gothic hero–he has dirty fingernails and grubby clothes. And his one-armed, color-blind valet does not improve Kesseley’s state of dress. When Kesseley finally decides that Henrietta is forever out of his reach, he turns to The Mysterious Lord Blackraven–and Kesseley becomes him. Suddenly,  Henrietta goes from the only one who would dance with him to one in a crowd.

I’m leaving out so much. I have not mentioned the aging princess and her companion, who has a secret occupation. I have not mentioned the dashing old man who wanders the park, and with whom Henrietta has many mysterious encounters. I have not brought up Kesseley’s mother’s secret heartbreak, nor the man who emotionally abuses her. And I haven’t brought up Kesseley’s dead rake of a father, who still torments Kesseley and his mother from beyond the grave.  And what about the attempts of Henrietta’s entire family to discover a planet that they just know is out there, and can prove it mathematically? There are many plot threads that Ms. Ives deftly twists and turns and weaves together until we have a dazzling tapestry of a story. The timing is impeccable and the metaphors are inspired.

Nitpicks? Only one. But I can’t get specific without spoiling a plotthread, so I’ll just move on. All I’ll say is I wonder what became of Henrietta’s father.

But most importantly, this book made me cry. I hate crying over a book, but an author who can make me cry has ensured that I will never forget the book. For some reason, I have a tendency to cry over twits that grow up. The last time I did so was over Amanda Ashby’s You Had Me at Halo. I cry over kids’ movies all the time. I have to leave the room during The Little Princess when Sarah is saying goodbye to her friends–especially when she hugs the girl who was her enemy. Up sent me over the edge when the boy was eating ice cream with the old man. I never cry over romances. But I cried over this one.

Therefore, I must say brava and well done. A keeper.


Don’t forget–all commentors are automatically entered in my Amazon Review Drive Giveaway – Phase 2!

13 Thoughts to “Debut Review – Rakes and Radishes”

  1. Great review, Tia. I must read this one. I love a book that makes me cry. 🙂

  2. Susanna is wonderful and so friendly! I bought R&R after we discussed the first line of the book. First time I’ve paid a visit here, but I’m linking in to see what you review next!

    1. Tia Nevitt

      Yay! A new reader! Welcome!

  3. I have to second your review! I devoured this book in a weekend–even bringing my nook with me to a party because I could not put it down!

  4. Laura Valeri

    Great review. I wholeheartedly agree. This was a great read.

  5. Annie Carlson

    I will confess it didn’t make me cry, but it did make me laugh. A lot.

  6. Me too, Tia. You said it exactly the way I feel about it.

  7. Chicory

    Darn it! You’re making me wish I had an e-reader. (That would be a VERY BAD idea btw, since book-buying would be way too easy, and I would go instantly broke -well, broker.)

  8. Tia Nevitt

    Chicory, don’t forget ebooks are cheaper and you can download a lot of classics for free.

    I’m reviewing so many Carina Press authors because I was curious about my fellow authors. I’ve been very pleased and honored to be in their company.

  9. Chicory

    Sorry. Didn’t mean to sound gripy. I’ve been complaining a lot lately that there are so many interesting books out right now, and so little cash in comparison. I have been enjoying the Carnia press reviews. It made me like Susanne a lot -an gave me a strong sense of how awesome her book must be- to know that she hadn’t asked to be reviewed -that you asked her.

    1. Tia Nevitt

      You? Gripy?

      It WAS a rather unusual situation–which I had never faced before as a reviewer!

  10. Tina

    I know Susanna — and this book — very well. I’ve been reading it in bits and pieces from its birth. I copy edited it before it went out into the world. And with all those “full disclosure” bits aside, even on what must be the 12th read for me, I still get weepy, still laugh hugely, and still want that man Kesseley, even as I read it AGAIN, just for fun. It’s one of my favorite books ever. Congrats, Susanna, and many thanks to Tia for an awesome review.

  11. This sounds fabulous. I’m not normally one for romance, but this one could be right up my alley. x

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