St Martin’s Press, $7.99, ISBN 1-250-10094-8
Historical Romance, 2018
Juliette Lacey is a heroine that seems to be designed just to see how many pages I can turn without projectile vomiting all over the place. She is unnecessarily antagonistic, even if doing so will sink any chance of her finding some reprieve from her many, many self-inflicted problems.
When our hero Samuel Travers shows up at her uncle’s place telling her that she and her uncle will need to vacate the home as the owner – Sam’s brother, the Marquess of Currington – intends to sell the home to someone else, our heroine is outraged. Actually, she is already screeching insults at him before he has even told her why he has come to see her, so way to go, genius. Back to Juliette, the imbecile is even more angry-stupid than usual once she learns of the reason. Sam must be lying! She will shout, scold, and cast aspersions at him, because that’s how you deal with someone who has all the power to kick you out of the house. Oh, and how dare the Marquess and Sam be so rude and heartless as to toss her and her uncle out! She will not budge! Because she is entitled to stay at this place!
Her sisters married a duke and an earl. All of these technically outrank a marquess. But if she asks her sisters for help, this story will only be half its length at most, so the author contrives to make sure that this will not happen. Therefore, Juliette will never dare to disturb her sisters’ honeymoon even if the situation is critical! Besides, she has no idea where they are. Not that I blame them. If this stupid wench is my sister and I get to marry a rich bloke and flee to a better house and life, I also won’t bother telling her of my new address.
And instead of being sneaky, diplomatic, or even smart, our heroine just shrieks, stomps, pouts, and demands that everyone shows compassion to her uncle and herself, and basically just give them the house because she says so.
Luckily for her, we have a drunkard to come rescue her from herself. When the story opens, Sam shows a tendency to habitually get so drunk that he can barely remembers the scandalous antics he got into the night before, but don’t worry, people – a dip of the wick into the honeypot of a romance heroine is all the rehab any man can ever need. He needs to evict Juliette and her uncle to prove to his brother that he is not a completely useless tosser, so he ends up sticking really close to our imbecile heroine.
Eventually, I will get the same old song and dance about Juliette feeling unworthy of being among the aristocratic members of the Ton because she thinks she is not hot enough to trot, grasping at straws to play the martyr, and using her stupidity as a spade to keep digging all kinds of ditches for her to fall into even as the hero keeps extricating her out of the ones that came before. I think it says a lot about the heroine that even a drunkard wastrel has more thinking capability than that supposedly educated bluestocking.
So, basically, The Rogue Is Back in Town is a painfully contrived story in which the heroine just keeps digging and digging and digging the hole under her feet, and the hero manages to stay sober by being too busy trying to drag her out of the hole. Seriously, Juliette is a heroine with no redeeming feature – she only exists to sabotage herself incessantly, and instead of being put down like she deserves to be, she is rewarded with a husband-babysitter. I can only wonder how it will be before she drives poor Sam back into being a raging alcoholic.