Remember last year when I looooooved A Most Scandalous Proposal by Ashlyn MacNamara? I couldn’t stop raving about that book for months. Sadly, MacNamara’s follow up, A Most Devilish Rogue, didn’t strike the same note with me. I wanted to love it. I went into it fully expecting a repeat performance and I didn’t get it. It’s not a complete loss, I can see the potential in the book (and the author) but I wasn’t swept away.
Here’s the summary from Goodreads:
Years ago, when Isabelle Mears was still a young miss too infatuated to know better, she surrendered her innocence to a dishonorable man. Though ruined and cast out from society, she has worked hard to shelter her illegitimate son, Jack. Having sworn off men in her quiet but dignified life, Isabelle is unprepared for the deep longing that rips through her when a handsome stranger rescues her rambunctious six-year-old from the pounding ocean surf.
George Upperton is a man in trouble with debts, women, and a meddling family. He is, by all accounts, the last gentleman on earth Isabelle should be drawn to. But loneliness is a hard mistress, and caution gives way to desire . . . even though Isabelle is convinced that happiness can’t be found in the arms of such a devilish rogue. Only when Jack is kidnapped does Isabelle discover the true depth of George’s devotion—and how far a good man will go to fight for the woman whose love is all that matters.
Ok, so, the good: I LOVE that romance novels are branching out more from the peerage. I love that not every hero is a duke and not every heroine is a young pretty heiress. I love that while this book does have ties to the first, they have very little to do with each other. I don’t remember George being in the first (tho he very well could have been, maybe he was the best friend and I don’t remember) and this book spends exactly zero time rehashing the first. If you didn’t know better, you wouldn’t know there was a first book, but since you do know, it’s nice to revisit the characters. This is a terrific compromise between a series and standalones.
The bad: I didn’t like George OR Isabelle. The title of the book leads you to believe that George is a scandalous rake. He’s not. He’s pretty darn average, aside from being greatly in debt. He is pretty honorable and it’s great points in his favor that he immediately jumps to her aid when Jack disappears. Unlike much of the peerage, he doesn’t ever judge her for her past or make her feel shame. But I also didn’t find him to be a romantic hero. Isabelle was not at all sympathetic. Here’s this young mother, cast out by family, whose child is missing and she’s much more concerned with her past and her class than with her missing kid. I just never really thought Isabelle had any emotion other than shame. Unfortunately, it’s hard to fall for a romance novel if you don’t fall for the main characters, so this one just didn’t work for me.
One other thing to note, about both this book and romance novels in general: It seems to be more and more common, or maybe just more obvious, that authors are trying to give their characters a Thing. This is always something that makes them quirky or unique and that would not be accepted by Society, for example, they read trashy serial novels, or they are members of a geological society, or they want to do away with the practice of wearing gloves (I might have made that one up. Maybe.) MacNamara doesn’t hesitate to do this as well. In this case, it didn’t really work for me either, but it’s entirely possible that my problem was in not loving George. I just couldn’t see his quirk as something to be hidden away in secret.
Despite not loving this book, I will still go ahead and read MacNamara’s next book as I think she’s an author to watch, and I am thankful to NetGalley for giving me the chance to review this one.