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Dearest Rogue by Elizabeth Hoyt
The Scoundrel and the Debutante by Julia London
Rogues or scoundrels can be a bit wearying. Oversexed and overprivileged, these protagonists are heartless or damaged until they find the right woman and turn into vaguely likable human beings. Okay, maybe I'm a bit jaded, but you can imagine my excitement upon reading the new novels from Julia London and Elizabeth Hoyt that dish out refreshing twists on this stock character and nix the jerk-complex a rogue often has.
Which is not to say these guys are pushovers. In Hoyt's Dearest Rogue, former dragoon Captain James Trevillion is the taciturn bodyguard of the nearly blind but spirited Lady Phoebe. Attraction simmers between the two, but Phoebe is still gentry, and Trevillion is anything but. While Phoebe struggles with her rapidly dimming eyesight and the diminishing freedom that accompanies it, Trevillion worries that his damaged leg could impact his ability to protect Lady Phoebe. One incident convinces him to resign his position to a healthier candidate, and he gives up his job and his heart to keep Phoebe safe. But when Phoebe is nearly kidnapped not once but three times, Trevillion spirits her away from London and to safety, though it means revealing his murky past to the woman whose opinion he cherishes. Romantic through and through, Hoyt's Dearest Rogue matches a lady who sees more clearly than most with a soldier whose silence conceals nothing from her.
In Regency-set romances, American heroes are few and far between, possibly because their innate need to roll up their sleeves and get the job done doesn't mesh well with ballroom flirtations and the subtleties of aristocratic rank, so Julia London's decision to set most of her book's action in the English countryside is a brilliant one. Prudence Cabot knows she has no chance of matrimony with any titled Englishman due to volcanic scandals featuring her own sisters. On her way to visit a friend, Prudence impulsively decides to switch destinations and join a stagecoach that contains Roan Matheson, a visiting American who's searching for his runaway sister. Roan doesn't give a fig for Prudence's scandalous sisters, but he's unofficially pledged to a nice if boring girl back home in America. Roan has plenty of opportunity to show off his brawn and his ingenuity (and London takes the opportunity to show off her comic skills as well) as he and Prudence encounter bandits, hard-bargaining farmers, and a pond perfect for skinny-dipping. Readers may find it difficult to return to the typically suave English hero after finishing The Scoundrel and the Debutante.
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