The Rebel and The Rake by Emily Sullivan: Book Review

The Rebel and The Rake by Emily Sullivan is in the center of the picture. Underneath the book to the bottom left is an open book. To the right of the open book in the lower corner is a tea cup filled with coffee. Above the teacup to the right of the book is a string of turtles plant. To the upper left of the book is a forest green, fuzzy blanket.

The Rebel and The Rake

By Emily Sullivan

Rating: 5/5 
Genre: Historical Romance
Steam: Explicit!
Publisher: Forever Romance
Pub Date: December 28, 2021
Thank you Forever Romance and NetGalley for my Advanced Copy! You're the best!
Available: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookShop

The Rebel and The Rake Synopsis (from GoodReads):

Rafe Davies might seem like just another charismatic rake, but in reality, he is one of the crown’s most valuable agents. As relentless as he is reckless, Rafe has never come upon a mission he couldn’t complete. But when he encounters the intriguing-yet-prickly lady’s companion Miss Sylvia Sparrow while on assignment at a Scottish house party, he finds himself thoroughly distracted by the secretive beauty.

Though most women would be thrilled to catch the eye of a tall, dark, and dangerously handsome man, Sylvia is through with that sort of adventure. She trusted the wrong man once and paid for it dearly. The fiery bluestocking is resolved to avoid Rafe, until a chance encounter between them reveals the normally irreverent man’s unexpected depths—and an attraction that’s impossible to ignore. But when Sylvia begins to suspect she isn’t the only one harboring a few secrets, she realizes that Rafe may pose a risk to far more than her heart . 

I did receive this novel as an eARC from the publisher, however all thoughts and opinions are my own.

The Rebel and the Rake Review:

You know when you find an author and their writing just clicks with you? Well that’s Emily Sullivan and I. After reading her debut novel (the predecessor to this one) earlier this year I knew we were a reader-author combo that was meant to be.

The Rebel and The Rake did not let me down. This book is different than A Rogue to Remember. That one was very heavy in action plot whereas this one is a slower build. I still really enjoyed it. It was like drinking a hot latte, you know when you’re slowly sipping at the beginning because you’ll burn your tongue but you know it’s going to be good so you keep drinking it and then all of a sudden you can really enjoy it so you inhale it? Yeah, it’s like that.

The Rebel and the Rake is such an entertaining story that pulls a lot of reverse historical romance tropes off and feels so modern.


-Sylvia is the definition of a character arc! I adored watching her come to life over the course of the book. The hints of her at the beginning were perfect. I loved her backstory and her gumption. The fierceness of her friendship with Georgiana felt so real. She had her flaws and wasn’t perfect, but that’s what I loved about her. I thought that her whole character was well-developed and her backstory matched up perfectly with who she was. Can we be friends, Sylvia?? Also, we love a woman who initiates intimacy!!!

-Rafe! After meeting him in the first book I was truly excited to come to him next! His dedication to service and wanting to be a part of reform was endearing. I have a soft spot for characters like that. Once again, his backstory and character arc trajectory were perfectly aligned and made for an incredibly compelling character. His journey to finding himself from his past was beautiful and I loved how he listened, learned, and changed. And this man is so adorable in love, like a cute little puppy.

-The modernity of this book was off the charts and it was plausible–read the author’s note at the end if you don’t believe me. I always like reading about this time in history (1890-1910) because there’s a lot of change and very charged political atmospheres. While it’s subdued due to the book’s isolation in a Scottish castle, the elements that are brought in and the level to which they are discussed make this political science/history college major happy! LOVE IT!

-The end of the story too! I’m not going to spoil anything but it was the type of ending you always want in a book. It ties things up nicely so that you’re not upset with plot holes. It gives the characters room to breathe after the climax so you can see how that changed them. This ending was everything I wanted. Plus the epilogue! 10000/10 amazing!

-While the plot did feel slow to start, I appreciated the careful crafting of the setting and characters when the faster parts picked up. I enjoy when there’s a mystery in a romance especially with characters on slightly different ends and this did it. It was like a romantic game of Clue.


-So it was a little slow to start and I could easily see this as a turnoff point for many readers. Like I said, it isn’t as fast as Sullivan’s first novel, but I knew it was going to explode at some point and it did! It just took a little while to get there. If you’re not a big character driven plot book this could be an issue. I want to clarify here that I loved the slow start, but could see it as a potential issue for some readers!!!

-Sylvia and Rafe’s beginning of their interest in each other felt a little instant. Their connection took a little longer for me to believe. I liked that they were both mutually into each other and I like a slow burn. I just wanted some more interaction between the two characters for them to get a good pining for each other beyond what there was.

Long Story Short:

I adored this novel. I begged for this novel (just a little). This book fulfilled my hopes that I had for it when I first saw its publishing and after reading A Rogue To Remember. The discussions of classism and sexism were beautifully handled and brought an additional layer of complexity to the story that I enjoyed. Sylvia and Rafe were well developed with compelling character arcs and the side characters were also treated with great care as well. I love the way that Sullivan can take important topics and isolate them while crafting a moving romance is superb. I just need her to never stop reading books because I never want to stop reading her books.

If You Liked This One…

I would check out Sullivan’s debut, A Rogue to Remember (my review via link). It has a road trip through Italy with former childhood friends turned “enemies” with SO MUCH PINING. Easily a favorite read of 2021 for me. Additionally, if you loved any of Evie Dunmore’s novels (League of Extraordinary Women) then this will be for you and visa versa! Here are my reviews for Bringing Down the Duke (1), A Rogue of One’s Own (2), Portrait of a Scotsman (3). Or Manda Collin’s novel A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Mayhem needs to be a read! Seriously though, if feminist historical romances are your thing then these are a must!!


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