One Rogue at a Time by Jade Lee
Series: Rakes and Rogues #2
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date: December 1, 2015
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USA Today bestselling author Jade Lee continues her saucy, vibrant Rakes and Rogues Regency romance series with a high-society outsider who may have met his match…
A brown-eyed bastard with nothing to lose
As the illegitimate son of a duke, Bramwell Wesley Hallowsby grew up tough, on the fringes of society, learning to hide his hurt and cynicism with charm and Town polish. He’s carved out a place for himself as a mercenary, serving as bodyguard and general strong arm for the peerage. Bram has nothing to lose… and he’s exactly what Maybelle “Bluebell” Ballenger needs.
Meets his match in a blue-eyed beauty with everything to hide
Maybelle needs a mentor to teach her to speak and act like a lady, so she can claim the place in society she was denied. As they team up to take on the ton, Bram knows she’s hiding something even from him. Despite the deception he sees behind those sparkling blue eyes, Bram wants to believe that Maybelle’s love is no lie. But it seems fate has served him up his just desserts in the likes of this determined damsel.
One Rogue at a Time started off cute enough. I really loved Bluebell’s wit and her ability to turn a situation in her own favor, the relationship she had with the others in her village, and the portrayal of village life in general. They had a nice mix of supportive and “gotta do to survive,” and everyone was very practical about it, and just I loved that place, I wish we’d seen more of it. It was a nuanced attitude that I’m not relaying very well, sorry.
I even liked Bluebell and Bram together at the start. They had some nice banter and cute moments. But then Bram got…well, rapey. He literally straight-up says “I’m going to sex that girl until she’s ruined and her intended husband will have nothing to do with her and then leave.” It was just a really, really disturbing line that gave me so many creeps and the book never quite recovered from that. He went on to force her into kisses and intentionally manipulate and seduce her, and all the while his thoughts on what constitutes a “lie” were…well, extreme is probably too mild a word for it. This guy had issues, and not the fun kind that you can at least pretend will be cured by love. For most of the book he was unacknowledged villain material, and I didn’t like it.
But I kept on with the series and read As Rich as a Rogue, because I was in a Regency mood and it was handy. It had a similar heroine, but Peter was a much better hero, and all around I’m very glad I kept reading. Like Bluebell, Mari is sharp and witty and able to turn things in her favor, and she has ambitions that are period appropriate. I think I liked that most about her character; her logical approach to finding a husband wasn’t demonized. It was recognized that being a wife in that period was a job, or could be if done right, and she wanted to work. So she had to find a husband whose life and career would give her the challenge she needed, and that was a good thing within the book. I love that; it’s an aspect of the time period that doesn’t get appreciated enough.
This book was also practically meta with one theme that’s common in Regency romance: a woman’s passions being suppressed by society but when she lets them out (with the help of the hero) she becomes a more complete person. Which is fine, and I totally get why that’s a popular theme (coughcoughdamnpatriarchy) and I’m not even complaining about it here. Just I was very aware of it on a meta level because it was very, very frankly discussed. So, for me, that was a smidge distracting. Not sure if it would be for anyone else.
Rating: 2 out of 5 and 4 out of 5