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    OUTSTANDING

    One must live with the choices one makes in life. Miss Daphne Smith knows that better than anyone. IF she hadn’t chased the fortune at the end of the rainbow all those years ago; IF she hadn’t fallen prey to an unscrupulous blackguard things may have turned out differently. Now her life is full of different IF’s. IF her father hadn’t died; IF she wasn’t at the mercy of a distant relative; IF she had references for a job. Leaving the school for young ladies where she has applied many times for a position, only to be turned away because of lack of references (and who is she kidding – because she’s a “cripple”), Daphne hears a name she hasn’t heard in many years. A name that takes her back to a happier time. A name that brings forth the different paths their lives took. Life’s choices shape a person’s life; and not always for the better as Daniel Winterbourne, the Earl of Montfort, can attest. IF he hadn’t baited his twin brother to swim in a raging lake; IF he had been able to hold onto him when the current became too much; IF he’d been the one to drown instead. All those IF’s and he couldn’t do a damn thing about it other than live up to the opinion his late father had of him and he’s been doing a bang up job of it. Until a face from his past storms into his home making requests then demands. From that point on his life will never be the same. When Daniel agrees to provide the references Daphne so desperately needs he makes his own condition – she must become Alice’s (his sister) companion until she weds. At which time he will provide Daphne her references and he will receive the monies his uncle is withholding in the attempts to get Daniel to change his lifestyle. A proposition that Daphne has no choice (there’s that word again) but to accept, all while knowing she’s not worthy of the position that calls for a pristine reputation, if she’s to make her way on her own. A crotchety uncle, a sister who sees too much, deplorable friends, an attraction they both try to deny but can’t fight, and some jaw dropping moments – all components of the amazing story of childhood friends shaped by life’s circumstances finding their way to a hopefully happily ever after. Christi Caldwell never ceases to amaze me with the depth and emotion that every story contains. To Redeem a Rake is one of her best (at least until the next one - winking ).
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