Why I like the Rake/Bluestocking trope

I don’t always like it.  I don’t like it when the rake is just a womanizing jerk.  I like it when the rake likes women and sees them as people who enjoy having a good time (generally merry widows or wives in unhappy arranged marriages or happy marriages of convenience).  He hasn’t found one he wants to settle down with yet, until he meets the bluestocking.

They’re both fighting against the strictures of society.  He accepts her ways because he hates society’s ways.  She craves the knowledge she believes only he can give her.

And yet, they’re also both rebelling in ways that society has prescribed them.  The woman cannot be a rake, she can only be a bluestocking.  The man cannot be a bluestocking and still rebel.  When they meet, she allows herself to indulge in sensuality, and he is allowed to share (and wallow in) his love of whatever academic subject he has hidden from his rakish friends.

They’re smart.  They have intelligent conversations.  They have witty senses of humor.  They share jokes that nobody else gets.  There’s lots of narration about their eyes, which sparkle with intelligence and humor.  They like each other.

They are people that the reader might like to know in person.  Or that the reader might even be, in another world.

And by meeting each other, they are allowed to be even more themselves, not less.  They free each other.  She allows him the ability to settle down and follow his true loves without caring what society thinks.  He allows her the freedom that she can only get through marriage to a husband who does not view her as property (or as a wealthy widow).  And they share many passions.

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11 Responses to “Why I like the Rake/Bluestocking trope”

  1. CG Says:

    Do you think the Harriet Vane/Lord Peter Wimsey books fall into this category? I’m not a romance reader, but I do love that relationship.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Lord Peter isn’t really a rake… I don’t think. But I will defer to #2 on this one, as she has read the series far more times than I have.

      • CG Says:

        I think he has sort of a rakish past.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        there’s a vague reference to a viennese opera singer, but we don’t see them on the page

      • ocmags Says:

        I don’t think he’s considered to be a rake by society. From a social standpoint, he’s more of a semi-respectable eccentric, which is a different sort of person than a rake. You could argue that his Death Bredon persona has a rakish aspect…but that’s more of an undercover identity, not who he is every day. And he didn’t create that persona to appeal to a bluestocking.

  2. ocmags Says:

    I would be curious to know any recommendations you have, by the way. I’ve been reading some romance or romance crossovers lately, with mixed satisfaction. There have been a number of books that I’ve put down and just said, “no” to finishing because the characters aren’t right or the interactions just don’t work.

  3. jjiraffe Says:

    This reminds me that in college there was a series of books by Amanda Quick I enjoyed that was in this genre. They were set in the UK, during the Regency time period, and kind of had a Jane Austen-ish vibe. I seem to recall “Ravished” was a version of Beauty and the Beast?

    I wonder if they aged OK, or are now problematic. At the time they stood out with their strong smart female characters…


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