by Patricia Potter, historical (2003)
Berkley, $6.99, ISBN 0-425-19100-1
I always have a weakness for plots revolving around deceptions, masquerades, and disguises. Unfortunately, Patricia Potter's latest historical Dancing With A Rogue is filled with predictable and familiar elements that it's hard to muster up any enthusiasm for it.
We have the usual Arrogant, Liberal, Democractic American Hero, Gabriel Manning, who's also the obligatory sea captain. His father, predictably, committed suicide when he was ruined financially. Gabriel blames a few people in England and now he is back for revenge. Oh, and he has inherited a title. Americans can talk big about liberty and equality, but damn it, give them an English title first!
The heroine, Monique Fremont, is actually your very common Merry Anders. Of course, her mother died of heartbreak (among other things) after being abandoned by her lover. Merry wants revenge, so she goes around pretending to be a sophisticated mistress looking for a lover as she plots and plots. If you think she's really cool and sophisticated as she pretends to be, I have an igloo in Greenland I'd love to sell you.
He has the familiar manservant/companion/comrade, she has the equally familiar loyal maid/confidant. They share equal disdain to the shallowness of British culture - but keep your hands off their English title and monies, you peasants - and they of course fall in love while trying to commit revenge. The revenge isn't that interesting either - I think I've read a better and much more improved version in a Jane Feather novel. What was it? Virtue?
The uninspired sameness of the characters is an effective dampener on my mood. Dancing With A Rogue is well-written, as it should be for an author of Ms Potter's experience, but reading it is like dancing with deja vu. A little freshness into the proceedings would have gone a long way in making the book a better one.
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