Harlequin, $6.99, ISBN 0-373-83458-6
Historical Romance, 2000 (Reissue)
Rogues’ Reform is an imaginatively titled (obviously someone knows how to confuse eager fans of the Cynster series into mistaking this book for one) anthology of three old traditional Regency romances by Stephanie Laurens. Fans of the Cynsters would have fun reading the wonderful original prototypes of Ye Blessed Cynsters while critics will find more ammunition to back up their belief that this author doesn’t write anything but the same hero and heroine over and over.
Either way, the three stories bore me silly.
The Reasons for Marriage has Lenore Lester crossing swords with Jason Montgomery, the Duke of Eversleigh. Duke decides it’s time to get married (he isn’t too keen because he has bedded almost all the married women in Town, how disgusting – aren’t those wives cheap or what?!! – and he doesn’t want to marry one woman who will be just like his tramps, that hypocrite). Lenore is a countrified prim bluestocking who is too intelligent for the stupid males of the Ton (except for our Rake Montgomery). Bicker, bicker, bicker. Since we can’t have sex (Regency, dear, nor Cynster), we will have lots of petulant foot stomping (she) or manly arrogance (he). Boring characters – really, aren’t there any other types of main characters in Regency England? – boring plot, this is me tuning out. Next story please.
Now we have Jack Lester’s story in A Lady of Expectations. Jack needs to marry for money, so he wooes a certain Miss Sophie Winterton. But does he tell Sophie he needs to marry her for money? Of course not. And Sophie, she wants to marry for love. Again, we can’t have 10 pages of love scenes as a way for these characters to release their pent-up tensions, so indeed I am subjected to more foot stomping and arrogant, heavy-handed behavior. Jack – rake. Sophie – wants to marry for love. Yes, they behave how exactly I thought they would be, and they even say things I thought they would say. Either I’m psychic or this story is getting old. I’d let the jury decide.
Finally, An Unwilling Conquest, where Lucinda Babbacombe is anything but unwilling (although she pretends to be most vocally). Harry Lester, the sole Lester of marriageable age, doesn’t want to get married. I mean, Society misses are all ready to cheat on their hubbies with lovers like Harry – how disgusting, eh, these women? No wonder poor Harry, the unwilling stud service for all these despicable Jezebels, has no reason to yearn for marriage. Well, he meets Blabbamouth, er, Babbacombe, and takes the poor damsel in distress and poverty under his moneyed wing. Or pants. Or boudoir. Whatever. Both protest most vocally at their distrust of the opposite sex (he’s an unwilling stud, she’s a widow of an lousy man), and since the clothes must stay on, the blabberings must go on. Fans hoping for an encore of a heroine going “Yes, no, yes, no, yes, no, yes, no!” will rejoice and throw confettis on this one.
Thankfully, my sojourn in the land of Romans et Monotone is quite brief indeed. One thing’s for sure: judging from these heroes’ attitude towards their women, Mom is right when she says, “Never give away ice cream for free or they will never buy the ice cream shop!”