Title: The Rogue Not Taken (Scandal & Scoundrel, Book 1)
Author: Sarah Maclean
The story is basically the Kardashians or whatever celebrity scandal is currently the rage, but set in the Regency Era.
The heroine is the youngest of 7 sisters, all whose names begin with S. Their father is “new” money, and he won the title of earl off the Prince Regent in a card game. “Society” looks down on them, but there’s the money involved, and, of course, the fun of the gossip papers that the seven sisters love to be in. Well, all of the sisters except the heroine.
I wanted to like the story. But, I strongly dislike celebrity anything. The only celebrity news I follow is whatever headlines catch my attention at the check out lane in the grocery store. Most of which make me roll my eyes.
I did like the heroine.
The youngest of the sisters, she is the least scandalous. Although she does push her eldest sister’s husband, a duke no less, into a pond for fornicating at a party with a woman that wasn’t her sister. Oh, and her sister is pregnant with the duke’s child that he openly denies is his. He’s a real treasure.
Of course her pushing him into the pond causes outrage, not at him being caught with his trousers down. I was not even remotely sold on every member of the aristocracy pulling their investments out of her father’s hands because of it. This totally felt Author-God to me to force the plot.
Why? Well, they needed coal during this time, and it was very profitable. I can’t see too many people risking fortunes because a duke got embarrassed doing something he was allowed to do only if he didn’t get caught…
I also liked that the heroine was bold and tried to take care of herself. Not sure anyone would mistake her for a boy, even in livery, but I let it slide and enjoyed it for the silly it was.
The hero was … Well, he was not a gentleman. He wasn’t even an alpha hero that sort of gets away with being a bit over bearing. He’s actually full on rude to her, insulting, and arrogant in all the wrong ways.
He’s taken serious liberties with the heroine, and then when he gets caught taking her virginity, well, clearly she was out to get him the whole time! Really?!? I have no idea what the heroine saw in him.
I grew weary pretty quickly of his brooding over the milkmaid, too. Not sure how the circumstances around this belonged on anyone’s shoulders but his.
Hero’s father – I wanted to like him, but I didn’t believe he’d allow a misunderstanding between him and his son to continue for 15 years.
After dunking her brother-in-law, the heroine wants to make an escape from the party, but can’t. When the hero won’t help her, she bribes his stable boy for his livery and thinks they are going back to London. It’s only when they’re out in the country that she realizes they went the wrong way. The hero is actually going to his country home because he believes his father is on his deathbed.
Sarcasm ensues when he realizes one of the Scandalous S sisters has stowed away with him, and when he again refuses to help her, she takes matters into her own hands and manages to get fare for the stagecoach.
Like I said, totally not a gentleman. He even leaves her to sleep with the male servants…
Of course the stagecoach is robbed, she’s shot, and the hero gets there just in time to save her.
A bit of falling in love happens as he sees to her recovery. Not entirely sure what she sees in him as he continues to be rather insulting.
More hi-jinks, and when she’s at her lowest point, the hero decides to take her home with him as his fiancee to help his father into the grave. After all, she is a Scandalous S sister. And clearly she has no feelings to worry about being hurt as he so callously uses her to get back at his father, especially when he knows how lost and adrift she is. He’s a gem.
When he gets home, however, he learns his father is hale and whole and nowhere near death. Father and son have some unresolved issues which get resolved amidst more misunderstandings with the heroine.
This is a romance novel, so it all gets resolved and you get your happy ever after ending.
All in all, I wish the heroine would’ve kicked the hero to curb and found someone that knew how to treat another human being. You might like it better if you like celebrity gossip. Maybe not, especially if you want the hero to treat the heroine with a modicum of respect.