About the Book
- Evie Dunmore
First Impressions: Perfectly Whimsical
What’s Your Type? Feminism, rakes with a heart of gold, rivals to lovers, smart heroines, indecent proposals, excellent romances
The Lean: Blazing Hot
We Need to Talk: It’s Complicated
Was It Good For You? A Meg Ryan “YES”
As with the first book in the series, I am in love. It’s playful and bright, the textures are unique and the little scene clues you in that these two have a bit of antagonistic relationship while still being playful. There’s even a cameo from Boudicca!
What’s Your Type?
- Rakes with a heart of gold
- Rivals to lovers
- Smart heroines
- Indecent proposals
- Excellent romances
(Former) Lady Lucinda Tedbury is utterly devoted to the Cause; so much so that she doesn’t even (mostly) mind that her family privately disowned her ten years ago and that Society barely tolerates her presence (while sometimes calling her the Tedbury Termagant behind her back). Lucie knows she’s outspoken, passionate, and more informed than most young English women. She wants what’s best for her fellow sex, and she will NEVER fall into the marriage trap (by which English law allows a woman’s person and property to be subsumed by her husband).
Tristan Ballentine—outrageous charmer, former soldier, secret poet, once a second son but now the (unwilling) heir to the Earl of Rochester—is also against marriage, but for very different reasons. After a brush with death during the war and his father constantly using his mother as a bargaining chip to force him to marry to produce an heir, Tristan is ready to leave England behind for good. But, before he goes, he needs to secure a secondary source of income that isn’t Daddy’s money.
As a child, Tristan spent his summers at the Tedbury family’s estate with Lucie’s brother, and he subscribed to the Gilbert Bythe school of flirting: dipping hair into inkwells because he likes you. Once Tristan grew into his features—and women took notice—his cunning mind landed him into business deals with some unsavory sorts, so his father shipped him off to war in the Middle East. For her part, Lucie had written teenage Tristan off long ago after she caught him dallying with a married woman, which she found very distasteful.
In present day, Lucie is the leader of a growing suffragist movement, and, together, the women pooled their money to buy fifty percent of a publishing house in order to further their agenda about a woman’s right to vote. With the two other owners split at twenty-five percent of the company each, Lucie’s majority shares will ensure that she can print whatever the suffragists want, when they want. So imagine Lucie’s utter shock and dismay when she learns that the other owners recently sold their shares to the same person…and that she now co-owns her feminist publishing house with Society’s favorite rake.
The Lean: Blazing Hot
Time to invest in a hand-fan, because this book is so hot you will be swooning from the heat. Lucie and Tristan have IT in spades, and you will feel the burn if you venture too close. I dare you to read this book and not be captivated by these two. Lucie is so incensed when she learns that Tristan has messed up all her carefully laid plans that she storms in—to his private bedroom!—and says some things she believes to be true. While they are only her opinions, they still hurt Tristan’s pride. And though he did not intentionally “foil” Lucie’s plans for her publishing house, Tristan has his own agendas and is still nursing a childhood crush, so he offers her an indecent proposal: he’ll give her one percent of his shares so she can have majority ownership, but only if she spends a night with him.
(While this set-up may sound…crass, rest assured that it works within the context of the story and their mutual attraction, and it never feels like Tristan is taking unfair advantage of Lucie or that she doesn’t have the ability to say no. Consent and equal power within a relationship are what’s sexy!)
Everyone has their own personal threshold for sexy scenes, both in their vivid descriptions and frequency and placement throughout the story. I have read plenty of raunchier, copulation-packed historical novels, and while those have their time and place, this book hits my personal sweet spot. When it’s time for the deed, there are plenty of sexy moments and some tastefully naughty words, but first, FIRST, we get the exact right amount of unresolved sexual tension and emotional investment in the relationship to make the build-up and pay-off completely and utterly worth it. I had a HUGE-ass smile on my face because I was so freaking happy for the characters.
But to wet your whistle:
His free hand delved into her hair at the back of her head. She tensed, but his touch as careful. Confusingly careful. He let a lock slide through his fingers, and then another, slowly as though he were studying each pale strand before releasing it again, and a different tension entered her. She clamped her knees together to quell the urge to move. Her scalp was arming from the minute tugs of his fingers intimately combing through her hair, and the heat filtered down her nape, sank heavily into her breasts, low into her belly, down to her toes.
She gasped when his thump grazed her bared nape.
His lips moved softly against the shell of her ear. “My dear, it is a simple question: Do you want me in your bed, or not?”
Ms. Perky’s Prize for Purplest Prose
I will declare that I unabashedly love Evie Dunmore’s writing. There wasn’t anything “too purple” about it for me. In my review of the first book, I noted that Dunmore managed to make reciting poetry sexy. Since Tristan writes poetry there ends up being a fair amount of discussion of it. If you’ve gotten to know me at all over the last few years through my reviews, y’all know I am NOT a poetry fan, but damn it if her books aren’t trying to force my hand. Just a few lines of a Tennyson poem in relation to our characters’ interactions had me gooey.
We Need To Talk: It’s Complicated
Okay, okay. This. Book. THIS BOOK. I was ALL about Bringing Down the Duke last year and have thought back on it often and fondly, despite only giving it four stars on Goodreads (though I mentally “grade” romance novels on my own internal adjusted curve, so four stars is actually quite fantastic). But as soon as I started A Rogue of One’s Own, I knew I was in for something special. Evie Dunmore has upped the ante, gone all-in, and taken every last bit of my money while still leaving me begging for more.
After the first novel, I asked for more of the suffragists’ stories, and, man, did Dunmore deliver. Lucie’s passion for equal voting rights was palpable and so easy to sympathize with because we are still fighting so many battles for this—and women’s other basic rights—around the world today. Lucie’s conviction made me want to get out there and do more. With all of her confidence in her ability to champion for voting rights, Lucie was still so relatable to less forceful person like myself. She still found herself, at times, insecure about many other aspects of her life.
I loved how we were given plenty of moments of continued female friendship between Hattie, Annabelle, and Catriona, who are all still very present in Lucie’s life. At one point, Annabelle and Lucie get into a fight over an embarrassing debacle at Annabelle’s ducal home, and the two have such a mature, honest apology/conversation that I wanted to squeeze my tablet in happiness.
Meanwhile, Tristan is a seducer with a smart mouth who makes some morally gray choices, but he’s also kind and intelligent and a little broken—though, thankfully, not so damaged as to completely self-sabotage everything good out of his life. There are enough reasons you can understand about why someone competent like Lucie would fall in love with him, and he’s in no way an alpha-hole or secret misogynist like SOME historical male protagonists.
And the plot twists and turns are SO well done! I was never pushed into sheer disbelief or tortured for the sake of titillation. Neither Lucie or Tristan are ever completely in the wrong; they just have different values and goals. Hell, even the length of the book was perfect. Reading this was such a worthy time investment. I never felt like it dragged once, as every moment served to advance something in the plot or relationship.
By the last few chapters I was unable to stop my perma-grin or prevent the happy tears from leaking out of my eyeballs as Lucie and Tristan got their much-deserved happy ending. And you better believe I devoured the tiny teaser for the untitled third book (featuring Hattie and Lucian) and then cried even more tears when I read that it’s not being released until Fall 2021.
ETA: After I originally published my review, I began to see more viewpoints discussing the problematic nature of Tristian’s colonialism/appropriation in regards to his war history, his valet, and his tattoo. I’ll admit I definitely did not consider these things very deeply during my read through, which is definitely a privilege I need to recognize and correct. I often read romance when I want to turn my brain off, but nothing exists in a vacuum, and I do want to be sensitive and look at everything I read more critically. There are some great, thoughtful reviews discussing this book in more depth on Goodreads.
Was It Good For You? A Meg Ryan “YES”
A-DOY. Guys, I am SO picky when it comes to romances, especially historical romances, as it is so rare for me to be completely happy with every aspect of the story. But I’d give Dunmore’s sophomore novel ten out of five shiny gold stars if I could. It has for sure secured a spot in my 2020 top favorites.
FTC Full Disclosure: I received my free review copy from Berkley. I received neither money nor peanut butter cups in exchange for this review. A Rogue of One’s Own is available now.