July 27, 2015
When the mood strikes.
I started Dearest Rogue, part of the Maiden Lane series, in May when it was first released. I
don't know, it must have been the mood I was in or something, but Phoebe, our heroine, just didn't sit well with me. So, I sat the book aside for later. Well, now it's later and I've learned that sometimes one should set things aside for a better mood to come along. This time I found Dearest Rogue to be a very charming read.
In this book we have the surly Captain James Trevillion. He's surly because when he was off fighting his horse fell on him and now he has a bum leg. Or, he could be surly because he has a secret from his youth and he won't tell anyone what it is. Or, he could be surly because he's head over heels in love with Lady Phoebe Batten, the blind woman he is being paid to guard. Or, maybe it's all three of those things - read the book and find out.
Then we have Phoebe. If you have been reading any of the other books in the Maiden Lane series, you will know that Phoebe is the sister of Maximus Batten and that she is also blind. She was also in danger of being kidnapped, which is why James Trevillion is guarding her. Now, Maximus is an over-protective brother and she resents the prison he has put her in because he is worried about her. Which is why she is also so very prickly with James Trevillion - he is the guard who is there everywhere she turns. She cannot go anywhere without him being there. She feels suffocated. She wants to be free and that desire causes her to do things that put her in danger. But, after one of many kidnapping attempts, things change.
When an attempted kidnapping of Phoebe fails, James blames himself for it almost succeeding. He knows that his feelings for Phoebe are a distraction preventing him from properly protecting her and he resigns. For Phoebe, his resignation is a pivotal moment. Someone who used to be irritating and in the way is now someone she misses very much. Unbeknownst to her, James is still investigating to find the person responsible for the attempted kidnapping. And then she is kidnapped again. James takes over, he finds Phoebe and they gallop off to the wild countryside to hide until the mystery can be solved. He lets Maximus know he's taken her but doesn't tell him where. Considering the time period, this was a bit of a stretch. We the reader must accept that the over-protective Maximus will allow his innocent, blind sister to go off "who knows where" with a man, unchaperoned. But, accept it we must, because that's what happens.
It is during this time that James and Phoebe's relationship changes from antagonistic to passionate. The slow building of one kind of tension to another kind was well-written. I loved watching Phoebe "see" James through her other senses. I also loved how James tried to back off on the over-protectiveness. There was a wonderfully written scene when he lets Phoebe loose and stands backs as she trips, falls, and stumbles, even injures herself but still comes out of the adventure whole. It was a growing time for both of them. It is also during this "hiding" time that we learned a little bit more about James' background. We are introduced to his father, sister and niece. We learn why James has such a strong need to protect.
What diminished the story somewhat for me were the number of times Phoebe's kidnapped. One, ok we need that to set up the plot. But two, then three, four, really, she became quite a hand at being thrown into a carriage. It was a little silly. How many kidnappers does it take to change a light bulb? Lots.
While Phoebe and James' story wasn't as dark as previous Hoyt tales, the secondary characters in the book more than made up for that. The Duke of Montgomery. He's is a very strong character, almost overwhelming, very enigmatic and had me wondering if he was going to eventually be a hero or a villain. He was rather creepy in this book, but a mesmerizing creepy.
Overall, this is a richly-textured book, with just a few bumps and a quickly wrapped up ending. While not one of Ms. Hoyt's amazingly outstanding books, this was a pleasant read with a very engaging couple. Next up: Asa Makepeace.
Time/Place: England-Cornwall 1740s