Author: Sasha Cottman
Original Title: Letter From A Rake
Release Year: 2013
Literary Genre: Romance
Setting: England, regency
Series: 1st of The Duke of Strathmore
Congratulation to the author, this is definitely a great first novel and it's my favourite kind of love story too! Sasha Cottman has an intriguing, merry and exciting style; the story is full of passion but not in the Kleypas or Quinn's way: everything here is softer and more delicate (I'm not saying that against the just mentioned authors that I said I adore, more than once), the novel doesn't lack of moments of pure emotion, spiced with elements that surely can't be defined chaste; in Letter from a rake the mix is less marked but equally intense and enjoyable.
Millicent Ashton was born and has lived all her life in India and when her parents communicates that is time to go back to England, she happily accepts their decision but with the sadness of leaving her beloved country; unfortunately the reality in London proves to be disastrous. Milli, too peculiar for the arrogant and pompous ton, isn't accepted, especially by the younger members, who never lose a chance to severely mock her.
The young Ashton, besides her parents and older brother's support, after just a terrible week from their arrive in London and after all the insults, is firmly determined to go back to Calcutta.
During their 'Welcome home' ball, organised by the affectionate uncles, the Viscounts Ashton, Mill finally meets the only friendly person she has known so far: the young and eccentric Lucy Radley.
The two girls instantly become really good friends and Lucy wants Milli to meet her two beloved brothers: the fascinating David and the stunning and famous Alex, the Marquess of Brook as well as the future Duke of Strathmore.
Alex is doubtless the catch of the season and he can't be less interested in it, but as soon as he sees Milli he is lost.
The attraction and the passion he feels for that incredibly enchanting and “different” girl is so strong that he can't properly speak or breath; on the other hand Milli, who by now is used to the ton's malice, thinks that the reason of Alex's strange behaviour is that he despises her; so when the marquess, who never stop looking at her suddenly, interrupts her friendly talk with the other two Radleys to drag her towards the dance floor and then, when the dance starts, to stand petrified befooling her in the eyes of the whole high society, Milli believes that it is all a cruel plan to mock and deride her.
But she doesn't know that for Alex has been love at first sight and that's the reason for his behaviour and because of his sentiments he will do whatever it takes to win her over.
The characters are wonderful and doubtless well-characterised; Alex is adorable in feeling himself inadequate towards an emotion he experiences for the first time and which suddenly and promptly explodes in his life; he is sweet, passionate but also clumsy when Milli is next to him and his reactions are too funny.
She is insecure and she feels out of place; it's easy to empathise with her, her attitude and diffidence. I felt quite the satisfaction in her personal growth and awareness.
I have to mention the splendid David and Charles: I hope to read more about them in the future, they are both really good in different ways, David, is illegitimate and is the oldest Duke's son, his situation isn't easy for him and his feeling are tangible. Charles is sweet and nice and overprotective, I really enjoyed him too.
I loved the relationships between the protagonists' parents, the couples are truly fond of each other.
I didn't give 10/10 only because after the first half part of the novel, when the protagonists aren't together, the story slows a bit down, initially the rhythm is lively and perfectly organised; anyway this rhythm change isn't a big problem at all, the story even so is really good and intriguing.
I can't wait to read more about these amazing characters and more from Sasha Cottman.