Lady Constance Read is independent, beautiful, and in need of a husband-now. The last man on earth she wants is the rogue who broke her heart six years ago, never mind that his kisses are scorching hot…
Evan Saint-André Sterling is rich, scarred, and finished with women-forever. He’s not about to lose his head over the bewitching beauty who once turned his life upside down.
But Constance needs a warrior, and Saint is the perfect man for the job. Only as a married woman can she penetrate Scotland’s most notorious secret society and bring a diabolical duke to justice. When Constance and Saint become allies-and passionate lovers-he’ll risk everything to protect the only woman he has ever loved.
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Under normal circumstances her tongue was lithe enough. But normal circumstances had never in her wildest misbehaviors included a man with eyes like his—green, clear and shining, moonlight cast upon the waters of a forest spring. Perhaps he was not entirely human. This wasn’t Scotland. But England had its fair share of mystical beings too.
When he stood within no more than two wicked feet of her, her tongue failed.
“You were staring at me,” he said in a voice like fire-heated brandy—rich, deep.
“You were staring at me.” The low timbre of her own words startled her.
“How mortifying for us both then.” The slightest smile appeared at the corner of his mouth that was beautiful. Beautiful. She had never thought about men’s mouths before. She had never even noticed them. Now she noticed, and it did hot things to her insides.
“Or fortunate,” she ventured. She was grinning, showing her big teeth. But she couldn’t care. A young man was smiling at her, a young man with sun-darkened skin and whiskers cut square and scant about his mouth, like a pirate too busy marauding to shave for a day or two. Not very mystical, true. His hair was the color of ancient gilt, curving about his collar and swept dashingly back from his brow. A military saber hung along his thigh, long and encased in dark leather. Its hilt glittered.
He was staring at her lips, and so she stared at his. Giddy trills climbed up her middle.
His lips made her think of kisses. Want kisses. Kisses on her mouth. Kisses on her neck like those that the loose women got from the other men. Kisses wherever he would give them to her.
Wicked wicked wicked.
“Dance with me,” he said.
She darted a glance into the ballroom. All of the women wore costumes, scanty, sheer, slipping from shoulders beneath gentlemen’s bold fingertips. Jack was throwing a masquerade for his friends and these women. Women she should not envy.
She should not be here. She should be at the dower house a quarter mile distant, where Eliza had drunk whiskey with dinner and now snored comfortably by the parlor fireplace.
“I cannot dance tonight,” she said with more regret than she remembered ever saying anything.
“Cannot? Or will not with me?” His tongue shaped words decadently, as though the syllables were born to kiss his lips and taunt her with what she could not have.
“If I could, I would only with you.”
He seemed to study her face: her too-big eyes, her too-small nose, the mouth that was too wide, brow that was too spotted, and cheeks that were too round. She knew her flaws, and yet he seemed to like studying them.
“What is your name?”
“I haven’t one.” Not that she could tell a stranger with elven eyes and pirate whiskers.
He smiled, and it was such a simple unveiling of pleasure that her heart thumped against a couple of her ribs.
“I will call you Beauty,” he said, then his brow creased. “But you have heard that before.”
“Then I suppose I must call you Beast,” she replied. She liked the tingling tension in her belly that he had deposited there with only his smile.
“For what I’m thinking now, you should,” he said . . .
Publisher and Release Date: Avon, March 2016
Place and time: Scotland, 1822
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 4.5 stars
Review by Wendy
I enjoyed the first two books in Katharine Ashe’s Twist series, which are unique, funny and clever, but The Roguetakes her work to a new level. In this novel she shows her immense talent, not only for penning a sensual and satisfying romance but also a darkly plausible and dangerous mystery with a twist. My only real complaint would be that although this is the first in a new series, it refers to events, letters and characters from another series, the Falcon Clubwhich I have not read and therefore, it took a bit of time to work out who some of the secondary characters were. I managed eventually, and as I adore Ms. Ashe’s eloquent style, my enjoyment was only a little compromised.
The characters in The Rogue are terrifically well developed, good and bad alike; but I especially liked the principled, charismatic and drop-dead-gorgeous Frederick Evan Chevalier de Saint-André Sterling, known as Saint, and the beautiful, talented but flawed Lady Constance Read. The story begins in England with these two meeting six years before the main body of the story commences. Each is immediately smitten with the other and they spend a fortnight meeting clandestinely. Circumstances, not least the difference in their stations – he a colonial merchant’s son, she the daughter of a duke – tears them apart, but neither forgets the other and it is obvious from the outset that they are destined to be together.
Six years later the story moves to Edinburgh and the two meet again; apparently by coincidence, older and wiser and with much water under the bridge. Constance’s father, a very powerful and manipulative Scottish duke, has arranged for a fencing master to instruct his daughter, and he chooses the best there is. As this happens to be Saint, he and Constance are re-united. At first it seems that the events which took place six years previously will prove to be a barrier; Constance had hurt Saint badly and he has no wish for his bruised heart to be bared to her again. And so he vehemently refuses the commission – even veiled threats from the Duke have no effect initially. Eventually though, Saint is worn down after glimpsing the vulnerability and inexplicable fear hidden beneath the façade of the outwardly courageous and independent Constance.
The background story of missing girls, secret rituals and murder throws a dark and sinister shadow over the tentative relationship developing again between Saint and Constance. There are misunderstandings, but fortunately, these don’t drag on. The couple eventually learns to trust and work together to infiltrate and attempt to destroy the evil that lurks within the higher echelons of Edinburgh society, culminating in a violent conclusion, although this is by no means the end of the story which will continue in future books.
It has to be said that there are times the story veers too close to the modernistic; perhaps a woman in the nineteenth century might not have been quite so independent and fearless, but this is explained in a way that’s good enough for me. However, whilst I do not mind this slight bending of the rules regarding women of the period, I do mind some of the modern terms such as: “block and a half”…”a piss poor job”…
In spite of that, however, such is my admiration of Katharine Ashe that I continue to be a big fan, and will wait impatiently for book two in theDevil’s Dukeseries. The Rogue is highly recommended.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Katharine Ashe is the award-winning author of historical romances that reviewers call “intensely lush” and “sensationally intelligent,” including How to Be a Proper Lady, an Amazon Editors’ Choice for the 10 Best Books of the Year in Romance, and My Lady, My Lord and How to Marry a Highlander, 2015 and 2014 finalists for the prestigious RITA® Award of the Romance Writers of America. Her books are recommended by Publishers Weekly, Women’s World Magazine, Booklist, Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, Barnes & Noble, and many others, and translated into languages across the world.
Katharine lives in the wonderfully warm Southeast with her beloved husband, son, dog, and a garden she likes to call romantic rather than unkempt. A professor of European History, she writes fiction because she thinks modern readers deserve grand adventures and breathtaking sensuality too. For more about Katharine’s books, please visit www.KatharineAshe.com or write to her at PO Box 51702, Durham, NC 27717.