A Rogue's Proposal
by Stephanie Laurens, historical (1999)
Avon, $6.50, ISBN 0-380-80569-3

Stephanie Laurens' latest installment of the Bar Cynster series, A Rogue's Proposal is romantic escapist fiction at its best. Fun, light, and totally undemanding on the senses or emotions. I enjoyed myself, despite some reservations about this whole Cynster thingie.

Harold Henry Cynster - who understandably prefers to be called Demon - flees London after his dear cousin Scandal got shackled. Three in a row. Demon would not want to be the fourth bowling pin in the alley, waiting for the bowling ball of matrimony to hit him. He decides to flee to his country holdings of Suffolk. Horses and races - what more than a titled, genteel rake ask for, eh?

Unfortunately, the first thing he notices is the lass his neighbor acts as a guardian for running around his stables pretending to be a stable boy. Turns out that Felicity is neck-deep in intrigue. Her foster brother Dillon is on the most-wanted list of some illegal race-fixing syndicate after that boy botched a plot, and Felicity (or "Flick") is determined to find out for herself who the nasty bad guys are. Demon wouldn't allow that, of course. He's half in love with Flick already. He takes over, Flick protests, and they indulge in lots of heavy breathing in the midst of the whole adventure.

Like I've said, A Rogue's Proposal is fun, and I find this much better than the last Cynster book Scandal's Bride. Ms Laurens can definitely tell a story, and when it comes to the love scenes, let's just say the Grand Defloration scene is ten pages of slow burn. You can't do wrong with this book for a few hours of uncomplicated reading pleasure.

However, I must say I am beginning to feel the pangs of deja vu already. Ms Laurens never even try to distinguish the Cynsters. Demon is arrogant and masterful, free of fears and insecurities. He may be a rake, but he sees her and wham! He's now an uxorious poster boy for matrimony bliss. Wait... isn't that Devil? No, no, that's Vane! Scandal fits the bill too. Egads, so does Demon.

She is willful, daring to the point of foolhardiness, and can't resist that man. Whenever she tries to take a stand and try to tell that man to stop being so overbearing, all he has to do is give her the look and they're both naked in a blink of an eye. By page 100-something, he proposes. She doesn't hear the word Love, refuses, but isn't above sleeping with him in the meantime. That's Honoria, Patience, Catriona, and Felicity for you.

The courtships takes the same path: he sees her, he is attracted to her (it is always said that Fate is playing a hand at the men's downfall), he charges and takes over the whole game, seduces her, proposes after the defloration, she says no no no no no no no no no (except when he's ...you know), until finally he says I love you. She can then say Yes yes yes! without any reservation.

Frankly, it's getting monotonous. I sincerely hope Ms Laurens isn't going to do an Amanda Quick on me. While I enjoyed A Rogue's Proposal, hopefully the next Cynster book will have no more Devil-clone. Hopefully Gabriel will have an individual personality that is as good as Ms Lauren's external conflicts.

Rating: 68

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