I'm not generally a fan of paranormals, science fiction, or fantasy books, though I do like an occasional one, especially if it deals with Regency England. So, it wasn't a hardship in any way to read Laurie Brown's Regency-set paranormal Hundreds of Years to Reform a Rake.
In Hundreds of Years to Reform a Rake, Josie Drummond is an American paranormal investigator, hired by English lady Amelia Thornton to investigate Castle Waite for the ghost of Lord Deverell Thornton, 9th Earl of Waite. Lord Waite (aka Deverell) was a handsome libertine who died in a duel back in the Regency. Amelia wants Josie to prove his ghostly existence, which will make the castle a tourist spot and generate money for much-needed renovations.
Unfortunately, Josie finds no proof of Deverell's ghost until she is about to leave. Then, in the presence of Amelia, Deverell reveals himself and explains his real purpose for having Amelia call her. Back when he was alive, a charlatan swindled Dev's mother out of the family fortune with a seance. Dev wants Josie to go back in time and help him stop the fake madam.
Of course, Josie is a modern girl and loves her electronic ghost-hunting gear, but Dev won't let her take it with them and insists she have a crash course in Regency manners. Josie is reluctant to undertake this task, at first, but slowly warms to it---and to Dev with his "dark visage, black hair, and deep-seated gray eyes" (8).
Once Dev (well, Dev's ghost) and Josie have gone back to the Regency, Josie has to use her investigative skills to stop Dev's mother from being swindled and navigate a Regency house party without revealing that she is from the future. To top it all off, not only is Josie attracted to Dev-the-Ghost, but Deverell the man seems smitten by her and she sort of likes him too.
The longer Josie stays in the past, the more she forgets her life in the present. And the more Deverell likes Josie, the less power Dev has to remain present in his ghostly form. Even though Dev and Deverell are really the same man, Josie will have to choose between them.
Hundreds of Years to Reform a Rake contemplates an idea that enthralls many modern Regency fans: what would it be like to go back to the Regency? Brown included many little details that Regency fans will find familiar and pleasing.
Other than the fact that Dev is a ghost, the book does not contain an overwhelming amount of paranormal activity, so non-paranormal readers will not be turned off. I certainly found it interesting that Dev could use his ghostly powers to do things like call for a flower delivery or take Josie back in time with him. Another element that I particularly liked was that the longer Josie was in the past, the more she began to lose her modern-day memories. I only wish Brown had included more of this in the story.
It was fun to watch Josie try to manuever through a Regency house party and ball, try to catch the swindler without her modern detecting equipment, and decide between Dev and Deverell. Brown's ending was clever and I never suspected Josie would choose the path she takes.
I would recommend Hundreds of Years to Reform a Rake to anyone who enjoys paranormals, and even Regency fans who don't usually read them. Brown did an excellent job of combining the two genres. There are a couple of love scenes in this book.
Hundreds of Years to Reform a Rake is available online or at your local book stores. Let us know if you read it!
Book Information: Hundreds of Years to Reform a Rake by Laurie Brown (Sourcebooks Casablanca; ISBN: 1-4022-1013-2; $6.99; 400 pages; paperback)