Avon, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-06-222985-4
Historical Romance, 2015
I Loved a Rogue closes Katharine Ashe’s The Prince Catchers trilogy, and I believe it can stand alone considerably. Reading the previous two books may make the reader appreciate the revelation with regards to the sisters’ parentage better, though. Anyway, read my review of the first book, I Married the Duke, to get the details on the whole arc revolving around dead parents and rings and fortune tellers.
It is obvious from the first book that it is Eleanor Caulfield’s destiny to get hitched to her childhood friend Taliesin Wolfe. No, he’s not a WWE wrestler or an actor in some softcore cable network, he’s a gypsy who gets beaten, blah blah blah, so he runs away a lot while moping that Eleanor’s sainted behind is not for him. When the story opens, Eleanor has transformed from a sickly woman into a much healthier person, and now that her sisters have married, she decides that it’s her turn to seek out revelations of their parents’ life and such. It’s not such a tall order for a vicar’s daughter who has never seen a bare-chested man, much less set foot outside her little corner of the countryside. Little girls do this blindfolded every other day since the dawn of civilization, so how hard can it be?
Taliesin comes back, all manly and powerful, channeling his inner Cliff Richard underneath his Heathcliff exterior. He offers to seek out the answers to the mystery of dead parents and the ring and what not. Eleanor insists on coming along, so here they go.
The story seems to set up several intriguing possibilities: Eleanor’s coming of age to be her own confident person, a star-crossed romance of two people from very different life stations, and a melodramatic soap opera involving parents with tissues for their issues. But the story never delivers, mostly because I feel that Katharine Ashe is playing things way too safe. Taliesin mopes so often about how improper a relationship with Eleanor would be, when it is revealed at the end that he knows all along that he is actually of a superior rank to Eleanor in terms of social hierarchy. He could have fought harder to get his inheritance if he is really serious about wanting Eleanor like he incessantly claims. The real Heathcliff would have done so – that guy bashed his head bloody against a tree when Catherine died, after all. This Tali is a whining wuss. He and she just have to play that tedious “want you, no-no, want you, no-no – repeat and rinse” song and dance throughout the whole story.
I was hoping for some glorious coming of age story for Eleanor. Instead, she’s too busy trying to figure out Tali’s passive-aggressive ways. In the climactic denouement, she can be seen fervently begging for Tali to come back and save her. Her character development is linked too closely to getting Tali to love her back for my liking, sigh.
Oh, and after all that moping about star-crossed could-never-be eek-eek-eek drama? Everyone gets elevated to lofty positions – through birth, not through any effort of their own – so that they are free to love, boink, and whatever to their heart’s content. After all that talk about showing people their true self, et cetera, it all boils down to being born in the right station to have a happy ending. I’d expect such a story from some British aristocratic author fuming over the spillage of the great unwashed into every nook and cranny of English life, not from an author living in Durham, North Carolina.
I Loved a Rogue is, as per the norm with this author, competently written. It’s a shame that it’s just another story presenting the same old mope-and-sigh song and dance in an uninspired manner, as the premise promises all kinds of wonderful things that are never delivered. Oh well.