Note: This is the 14th story (13 historicals and 1 novella so far) in the Company of Rogues series.
Setting: Regency England
Plot: Horatio Cave, a Viscount, comes from a long line of rapists, murderers, psychopaths, sadists, and madmen. He wants to be accepted by the Ton because generally he is not like his ancestors and specifically because his younger brother can’t marry his true wuv while their family name lives in infamy. Cave seizes his chance when he is able to clear the good name of the younger son of a duke and have the whole ducal family in his debt, especially the daughter of the family: Lady Thea.
Short and to the point: Okay. Lukewarm. Kinda boring.
Long Ramblings: Another steady effort from JoBev and perhaps that is all that I can expect from her anymore: a story told in a polished, authorative voice, orderly enough to appeal to me intellectually but lacking that certain verve that makes me take notice and say WOW!
I doubt most would describe the plot the way that I have above but, to me, this is Cave’s story. He is a dark-and-tormented hero. I liked him as a character even if he wasn’t the type of dark-and- tormented hero I really love — basically. . . . brooding and not quite on the right side of sane. (Think Sheridan in Kinsale’s Seize the Fire. Think Adrian in Putney’s Uncommon Vows.) Cave, being a veteran military man, is a man of action and instincts and little introspection. So, in another words, Cave was dark-and-tormented externally but internally, he came across as a nice, very unlucky man with a dry sense of humor and a huge chip on his shoulder.
I also liked Lady Thea. It felt like a refreshing change to read about a proper miss — level-headed, staid, slightly priggish — but who is not seen as narrow-minded or inflexible and needing to dig deep to find her inner TSLT firecracker. I thought the set-up for the climax in which Thea behaved out of character was terrible because it had a big gapping hole in logic. Specific spoiler —->Thea answers a letter that was delivered to her house. In it, Thea’s cousin says that she is trapped in a deserted house with no clothes and no servants. If the cousin can’t leave the house because her clothes were taken, one wonders how she was able to have the letter delivered with absolutely no servants around.<—–
Hey, I liked the H/H so what was the problem? The problem was the Ro-mance. After a sizzling, slightly bizarre first meeting, JoBev didnt capitalize on the momentum and kept on keeping the H/H more apart than together throughout the course of the novel. I felt that Thea spent more time investigating and talking about Cave with other people than she actually spent flirting with Cave. Adding to the frustration was that Beverley meandered more than usual in this book, I think.
Of course, this being a Rogues book, the various members of the large Rogues tribe must be incorporated into the narrative so that the reader could genuflect but when JoBev started going on a tangent about the marriage history of some distant relative of a very minor character, I was going WTF? Lady Beware is 413 pages long and it felt like Cave & Thea had interaction in about 200 of those pages. I think that if the book was edited down to a tighter, more bare-bones 320 page novel, it would be a better romance. It even has one of my particular pet peeves: ending the book on a love scene. My feeling is always that they are superfluous that late in the game (unless it’s an erotic novel and it’s usual to find the H/H in bed anyway). I would prefer that an author just ended the book already instead of delaying by finally adding the love scene that I lost interest in reading a while back.
And in case, I seemed to gloss over the fact earlier — if you are one of the rare few who have not read one of JoBev’s Rogues book, do NOT start with this one. You. Will. Be. Lost.