Grand Central Publishing, $8.00, ISBN 978-1-4555-8383-6
Historical Romance, 2015
Horse-crazy William Somerhall, the Duke of Worth, deigns to accept his mother’s summon to her dinner party one fine day, only to arrive to see the guests fleeing for dear life. He soon discovers that, in addition to keeping chickens all over the place, her mother has decided to keep a python around too – a python that slithered up the skirt of a guest, hence the pandemonium. William has generally ignored his mother all this while, but enough is enough. He will move into the dowager house with immediate effect to make sure that his mother will no longer go overboard with her eccentricity. His decision must be just and right, because fate rewards him by revealing that the woman who intrigued him all this while is his mother’s companion, Jenna Hughes. Her presence makes his necessary adjustments of his racing calendar worth the bother…. or so he thinks, until it’s obvious that his mother and Jenna are up to something, and his presence is clearly unwanted.
Actually, Eleanor, William’s mother, and Jenna have been playing Robin Hood for the working class for some time now. As the working class folks are constantly stiffed out of payment for services rendered by members of the Ton, they take it upon themselves to help make sure that the offending parties pay up their bills, by cunning, subterfuge, or outright thievery. How will William react when he finds out?
The nicest things about A Good Rogue Is Hard to Find are William – who has just the right balance of wit and flustered annoyance – and the cunning Eleanor. This story is very readable and the humor works most of the time. Really, if the plot had been different and the heroine isn’t such a failure, this one would have a clear “Ooh, how fun!” kind of read.
I don’t know why Kelly Bowen wants to write all these stories of heroines deluding themselves into thinking that they are kick-ass amazing when the author can’t seem to bring herself to deviate from the philosophy of men always being more competent than women because it’s not romantic if the heroine has a brain that comes close to matching the hero’s. Jenna is supposed to be a thief who has done this for a while – and successfully too – but from page one, she is a mess who can’t tell a believable lie, gets panicky and flustered when things go even a little bit wrong, and has all her efforts to divert and deceive easily seen through by William, who by all means is just a guy who hates social events and love horses (not in a British Prime Minister way, of course). As a result, this makes Jenna seem as intelligent as a gerbil who had been run over by a truck six times. Jenna’s incompetence and arm-flailing drive the plot considerably, so this is definitely not a book that will go down well with readers who prefer the heroines of their stories to behave like what they supposedly are. And in this story, the author says that Jenna is good at what she does, but in actuality, Jenna wouldn’t have survived this long if the smarter Eleanor hadn’t prodded her along and keep her – sometimes even saving her – from drowning in messy situations.
So yes, A Good Rogue Is Hard to Find is a pretty fun story – it has well-crafted humor and a very adorable hero. It’s also a story with a heroine who is nowhere as adorable as the author seems to think she is, and that babbling, flailing, incompetent mess is going to make or break this story for many readers. So, proceed with caution, people.