Dauntsey Park: The Last Rake in London

Sally Bowes is a scandalous figure in Edwardian London. The owner of the outrageously fashionable night club, The Blue Parrot, Sally guards her business and her heart well. But when she meets Jack Kestrel, both come under threat…

Jack Kestrel is known as the last rake in London. Descended from the ancestral line of the devastatingly attractive Dukes of Kestrel, Jack is dangerous and dissolute and irresistible. When Jack and Sally start a passionate affair, neither of them think that the last rake in London might finally lose his heart.

“Cornick gives the reader a fine overview of the Edwardian period. She combines a handsome rogue and an independent woman in this sexually charged romance that shows how true love can overcome guilt and heal wounded hearts.”

— Romantic Times BookClub Magazine

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Excerpted from Chapter Two

Dan met her as soon as she stepped off the bottom step and onto the marble floor of the entrance hall. Sally raised her brows at the look on his face.


“Yes.” A frown wrinkled Dan’s broad forehead. “Mr Kestrel is the Gold Salon. Said he wanted to play a few hands of baccarat.”

“And?” Sally kept a smile plastered on her face as a noisy group of diners passed by and paused to compliment her on the quality of the Blue Parrot’s service.

“And now the bank is down five thousand pounds.”

“Damnation!” Sally felt a twinge of real alarm. A little while ago Jack Kestrel had threatened to ruin her business, but she had not thought he would do so that very night by breaking the bank at her own gaming tables.

“There’s worse,” Dan said in an undertone, taking her arm and hurrying her along the corridor towards the casino. “The King is here.”

What?” For a moment Sally felt faint. “The King? King Edward?”

“Himself.” Dan nodded in gloomy agreement. “Playing at the same table as Mr Kestrel. And losing to him like everyone else.”

“Hell and the devil.” Sally’s heels clicked agitatedly on the marble floor as she quickened her pace. Damn Jack Kestrel. She thought she had contained the threat he posed, had imagined him sitting at table harmlessly drinking her champagne and here he was beating the King at baccarat and bankrupting her in the process. Matty was right. He was dangerous. She should never have let him out of her sight.

“I wouldn’t like to say that he was cheating, now,” Dan said, in his rich Irish brogue, “but—” There was puzzlement in his blue eyes. “I’ve been watching him and either he is extraordinarily lucky or—” He let the sentence hang.

Sally paused discreetly within the doorway so that she could watch Jack Kestrel at the baccarat table without being observed herself. He sprawled in his chair, a lock of dark hair falling across his forehead, his cards held in one careless hand.  He had discarded his jacket and the pristine whiteness of his shirt looked stark against the darkness of his tanned skin. Seeing him there, Sally thought once again of his rakish forebears. There was something about him, something to do with his air of lazy arrogance, the perfection of his tailoring, the casual grace with which he wore it, that recalled the gamblers of a previous century, the rakes who made and lost their fortunes in the London of the Regency, a time like the present one that was full of the glitter and the lure of money and scandal.

Dauntsey Park: The Last Rake in London“Miss Bowes?” Dan said with increased urgency, and Sally’s attention snapped back.

“I’m thinking what best to do.”

“Better think quickly then,” Dan said grimly. “We’re down ten thousand now.”





End of Excerpt

Dauntsey Park: The Last Rake in London

is available in the following formats:
North American Edition
UK Edition

January 6, 2012 · MIRA Books UK · ISBN 13: 978-1848450455 · ISBN 10: 1848450451

Behind the Book

I originally wrote The Last Rake in London in 2008 to celebrate the Mills & Boon Centenary. I had never written a book set in the Edwardian period before and found the research for it fascinating.

The more I read up on the Edwardian period, the more similarities I noticed between it and the more familiar period (to me) of the Regency. Both eras are known for the dazzling opulence of high society, the lavish country house parties and the glittering London Season but beneath that seethes layers of poverty and violence and deprivation. In both cases the extremes of affluence and poverty were very marked. I think that the more you study it, the more the parallels become apparent.

One of the things that struck me very hard was that some aspects of the society and culture seemed very modern and familiar whilst others seemed utterly alien and divided from the present by an enormous gulf of years and experience. Technology was further advanced than I had realised. There were cars on the streets and I was astonished to discover that some of the London Underground was up and running and that it was already called “The Tube” as it is today. The other thing that fascinated me was the fight for women’s suffrage, which I had studied a little as part of my MA course at Ruskin College, Oxford. I am someone who believes in exercising her right to vote but when I was reminded of the struggle my forbears had gone through to gain me that right, it was very humbling.

51h7XbthdYLEdwardian InteriorFor readers interested in finding out more about the Edwardian period, this is how I approached writing the book. I started off by watching some costume dramas set in the period, such as the Duchess of Duke Street and Upstairs Downstairs. I felt that would get me into the right mindset and give me a feel for the period. It was great to rediscover those series as they were programmes I had enjoyed in my youth! I also drew on my memories of some of the National Trust properties that I had visited that had Edwardian interiors, such as Lindisfarne Castle, which although it was originally a Tudor fortress was redesigned by Lutyens in 1903.

Once I felt that I had absorbed something of the atmosphere of the period I turned to my reading. Some of the books I enjoyed the most and found the most useful were:

The Edwardians by Roy Hattersley

The Edwardian Country House by Juliet Gardiner

Victorian and Edwardian London by A R Hope Moncrieff

Now, of course, we have the marvelous Downton Abbey to give us a flavour of the Edwardian period!


Reviews for Dauntsey Park: The Last Rake in London
4 Stars!

“Cornick gives the reader a fine overview of the Edwardian period. She combines a handsome rogue and an independent woman in this sexually charged romance that shows how true love can overcome guilt and heal wounded hearts.”

4 and a half stars!

“Utterly delectable, superbly written and mesmerizing... a rip-roaring tale that will charm and delight readers everywhere! Fast-paced, poignant and romantic, The Last Rake in London is an outstanding historical romance by one of the genre's brightest stars!”

“There aren't nearly enough historical romances written in the Edwardian period, and lucky for readers that Cornick has written an especially fine one. Snap it up.”

4.5 Blue Ribbon Review

“A steamy, enjoyable historical romance. I could not put this book down… Witty dialogue, sizzling, seductive romance, irresistible secondary characters and the well-matched hero and heroine make this a memorable read. The Last Rake in London is a book that I will keep to read repeatedly.”