Road Trip! Road Trip!
To be or not to be, that is the question. Or is the question, do I write a review right away or wait awhile and let it simmer. I have to say, if I had written my review as soon as I closed my book I would have gone down the road of glowing sunshine, butterflies and roses. But, I allowed myself to think about The Rogue Not Taken for a while and recalled some things about the story I didn't particularly care for.
My initial thoughts were that if you liked the movie, Romancing the Stone, you would like this book. Because that's what we sort of have here - a hero who is obnoxious and a heroine who is on a journey, but out of place. Really out of place. However, there are some things the book misses which the movie doesn't. For all of his obnoxious-I'm-right-alpha moments Jack Colton is never deliberately cruel to Joan Wilder. That is the biggest difference between Jack Colton and Kingscote, the Marquess of Eversley. That is also the main problem I had with this book. If events or big reveals had been placed differently, I think this book would have worked better for me.
Oh, woe is me. This was a hard book to review and I am torn, tortured and tickled all at the same time. First we have our heroine, Sophie. She belongs to a family with four other sisters, the Talbot family. The sisters have been crowned with the nickname of the Dangerous Daughters by society. Their father has been raised up from laborer to being granted a title. Of course titles don't really mean anything unless one is born into them, right? All those titled ladies and gents seem to have forgotten that at one time most all of them were granted a title, unless of course they were born on the wrong side of royal blanket. Even on the wrong side, they received titles - can anyone say Monmouth/Cleveland/Richmond/Berwick and on and on. The English aristocracy is peppered with illegitimate ancestors.
Anyway, nobility seems to have a pretty short memory and the Talbots have an awfully hard time being accepted into the high-falutin-hoity-toity society. Of course, even if they were accepted, they would still have all the scandals that the daughters, Serephina, Sesily, Seline, Seleste and Sophie court. Except Sophie doesn't actually court scandals. In fact she doesn't want to have anything to do with the hubbub which her sisters create. She hates the city and dreams of the simple life she used to have. She remembers living a pretty bucolic life and dreams of opening a book shop, marrying the baker and raising children. She hasn't learned that you can never go back.
So, one evening Sophie is wondering through a garden and stumbles across her oldest sister’s husband attending to another woman. Something inside of Sophie boils over and she ends up shoving the guy in a pond. He doesn't take kindly to her or her sisters or her family. All her sisters are looking at her askance. She decides to get out of town - vamoose. How does she do that? She disguises herself as a young footman - that would be as in "a boy." Oh no, not the old girl-with-giant-bazoogas-dressing-up-like-a-boy-and-no-one-will-recognize-me routine. Yes, that is exactly what happens. All the men in London fail to see this woman dressed up like a boy except for Mr. Potato head himself, our hero, Kingscote. (They call him King for short.) Anyway, she eventually ends up with King and the two embark on a pretty crazy road trip. He tosses her out, she sells his carriage wheels, she drinks with his drunken friends, he gets mad, she gets shot by a highwayman and saves a woman and two children, he saves her life. While all of this is going on they bicker, fight, insult their way across the country, getting on every inch of each other’s nerves.
I liked parts of this book a lot. I thought it was fun. There were also some poignant moments, especially when Sophie is talking about her dreams of being married to the local baker. But, I had two problems: her family and ta ta ta dah King. I thought her family was rather selfish in the manner which they took advantage of Sophie. And, an event toward the end of the book when she does a pretty sneaky thing just to help them did not sit well with me. But, then that was a minor hiccup compared to our Bonehead hero. Here's the deal, because I have read a gazillion romances I know that even when a Bonehead hero is being a piece of guano, I know he's really down deep a knight in shining armor. How do I know that? Because I'm programmed to know that. I know that because that's what I've read in a gazillion romance novels, but sometimes those magical words of redemption are not in the book. Or, the words are in the book toooo late or they are not there long enough or the reason why our hero smells is just plain silly. Well, all of those reason were in this book.
While I enjoyed some of the banter between Sophie and King, there was a point when King was just downright hurtful. There was a time in this story when Sophie told King her dreams and hopes. Their relationship should have gone beyond saying mean hateful words just because one can. But instead of stepping forward, they stepped backward. King was out for revenge. He wanted his father to know that he was the last of the Eversley family. There would not be anyone to pass anything on to. King would be the last! No spewing seed out for him, by golly. That would show the old man. Yes, the old man wronged him when he was just a wee pup. His father is responsible for killing the only woman King could ever luv. Or at least that’s what he thinks. Guess what we have in this book? We have a giant wrong conclusion. Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! He has avoided his father for years. All he had to do was talk to his father and he would have discovered he was wrong. In his need to hurt his father, he ends up including Sophie in that pain. He is needlessly cruel to her. So, it was a step back in the relationship and a little bit of old bodice ripper books with Steve Morgan, Brandon Birmingham, Clayton Westmoreland, etc. in it.
The scenes with the father and her family were toward the end of the book. Everything up to that point was fun and I had been enjoying the story immensity. I think these scenes should have been sooner in the story and maybe King would have had more time to restore himself in my eyes - but there just wasn't enough time. Anyway, bottom line - I don't know. I liked the silliness of the road trip, the fun, the over the top running all over and getting into trouble, but I didn't care for her family showing up at the end and King was never given a chance to repair the insensitive damage he inflicted.
Time/Place: Road Trip Regency England