by Suzanne Enoch, historical (2006, 1997 reissue)
Avon, $6.99, ISBN 0-06-087524-0
Suzanne Enoch's debut full-length historical romance, as opposed her traditional Regency stories that she wrote prior to it, boasts an array of stereotypical "When traditional Regency authors discover the sexy" traits. Yes, Lady Rogue has a heroine pretending to be a young boy. One of these days someone should conduct a study as to why so many traditional Regency authors ae so fond of using this Victor-Victoria thing in their debut full-length efforts. Yes, this book revolves around Napoleon Bonaparte wanting to be a bad boy again. And yes, often this book feels like it's more about intrigue and French spies behaving badly rather than a romance novel. Fans of this author's later books may be surprised at how much plot this book has.
Our heroine Christine Brantley, who is named thus so that we can all go "Awww!" when she shortens her name to a predictable Kit, is pretending to be a boy so that she can spy on our hero, Alexander Cale, because her father Stewart is in trouble. Stewart will be in really big trouble if he doesn't come up with the identity of the person sabotaging his business dealings with the Comte de Fouché. Stewart tries to use an outstanding favor owed to him by the Earl of Everton to get his "son" to move about in Society. However, the Earl of Everton had passed away and his son, Alex, is now the new Earl. Alex is obligated to take Kit in and it isn't long when he realizes that Kit is a woman.
Ms Enoch wasn't a first time author when she wrote Lady Rogue so I don't know what happened during the writing process of this book. Kit is, unfortunately, a heroine who clearly mistakes "bratty" for "cute". She stamps her foot, pouts, calls the hero all kinds of "cute" names, and generally acts like a hot-headed impulsive dingbat who unfortunately is almost always wrong. Her "bad girl from the wrong side of the streets" background is used in predictable ways by the author, although she seems unaware of how gullible Kit comes off as when Kit starts out so determined to help her big bad Daddy only to quickly fall into the thrall of her new Big Daddy. Alex is a rather familiar hero in that he is expectedly more reasonable and clearly more intelligent than the birdbrained Kit but his attraction to Kit lacks sizzle. He is more "amused" by her than anything else, although I don't blame him since Kit spends a long time in this book creating all kinds of fuss like she's a performing monkey on the loose.
It is only in the late quarter or so in this story that Kit does a turnaround and starts behaving half-way reasonably. She starts to think and even makes decisions that aren't contrived to be as irritatingly silly as possible. Her epiphany regarding her father and she deals with it is nicely done. This portion of the story is a nice read and I wish the story that leads to this point has been written in this manner. Lady Rogue is an unevenly written story that only manages to build up a decent momentum in its late stage. It's hard to consider this book a good read if so much of it comes off like a babysitting excursion with a heroine who is often determined to make the worst decisions possible for the situations she is in.
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