I loved Bowman’s previous romance, The Unlikely Lady – it was funny, romantic and a little ridiculous (in a good way). So, when I cracked open my eReader to start The Irresistible Rogue I had high hopes. While I certainly liked The Irresistible Rogue, I have to admit that it fell a bit flat in comparison to The Unlikely Lady (which simply sparkled). The Irresistible Rogue was still everything that I’ve come to expect from this author – witty, charming, fun – but I wasn’t quite convinced by the whole spy angle.
At the end of The Unlikely Lady readers learn that Lady Daphne Swift has been married in secret to a spy, Captain Rafe Cavendish. What motivated their marriage of convenience was the necessity of Rafe bringing Daphne along to the docks during a mission where her linguistic skills were an asset. Daphne, you see, speaks Russian, and the men Rafe is tracking only speak Russian. However, the only way Daphne’s elder brother would agree to Daphne’s participation was for Rafe to marry her (in name only) and protect her with his life. Now, a year later, Daphne is ready to move with her life and is on the verge of engaging herself to another man, at least, as soon as her husband grants her an annulment. Complicating matters further is Rafe’s refusal to grant the annulment because he once again needs to call on Daphne’s Russian language capabilities. And he, like Daphne, feels this inconvenient attraction, which makes it quite hard to contemplate an annulment to the very person you’re attracted to.
Like I said, The Irresistible Rogue is everything I’ve come to expect in a historical romance from Bowman. The dialogue between Daphne and Rafe is witty and engaging; the romance between them is believable. The author’s use of the “class difference” conflict in particular stands out as a well-developed and essential part of the Rafe and Daphne’s relationship. Daphne is a lady and Rafe is not of the nobility, having had to work for everything that he now has. Daphne’s sheltered existence causes a good deal of friction in the couple’s road to romance; Daphne is judgmental and Rafe isn’t really convinced that he can be the man for her. While this construct in the romance genre isn’t new, it is done remarkably well here. The characters and their journey to romance is what really shines in The Irresistible Rogue, and at the end of the day, this is what I’m looking for in a romance.
What I was less enthralled with was the whole spy premise. I like spies in my romance, it generally adds an element of excitement and suspense that I enjoy. However, in the case of The Irresistible Rogue, I simply had a difficult time getting on board with the setup for the spy drama. Rafe was your classic spy character and his motivations for embarking on that career clear. Daphne, on the other hand, had rather murky motivations for wanting to be a spy. Her brothers were serving their country in the war, so Daphne also wanted to take part, and she somehow conveniently goes undercover with virtually no training. You can’t tell me that Rafe couldn’t find anyone else that could speak Russian, or that Daphne’s elder brother would have really been okay with sending out his non-military trained sister in the field. Not to mention why Daphne would believe her brother required a temporary marriage considering how difficult it would have been to secure an annulment. Personally, I found the idea of Daphne helping Rafe on a mission and her lack of questions for her brother’s motives in insisting upon a marriage to Rafe to be stretching the bounds of reality. The sketchy premise for the spy thread of the story did jar me out of my enjoyment of the romance on several occasions, and for that reason, I didn’t love The Irresistible Rogue as much as I would have liked to.
Dubious reasoning aside, there is no question that The Irresistible Rogue offers readers a solid romance. The class consciousness on the part of the hero and the heroines initial naivete both served to give the romance a depth that made this an enjoyable read. Bowman’s fans wont be disappointed by this one.
For another read that also emphasis the sharp distinctions in class between it’s hero and heroine is Elizabeth Hoyt’s Dearest Rogue. See my full review to find out why you should read this incredible sweet and adorable romance.
If you enjoy Bowman’s lighter style of writing and you like a few spies thrown in for good measure, Amanda Forester’s A Winter Wedding might be just what you’re looking for. Like Bowman, Forester writes great dialogue and there is such a sense of fun here. See my full review of this one to learn more.
My last recommendation, Sins of a Ruthless Rogue, is more an “enemies to lovers” romance, but I think it will appeal because these “enemies” have a past as childhood sweethearts that have been cruelly separated. That is, the hero is sure that his lady-love is responsible for his imprisonment and almost hanging. If that doesn’t put a kink in the road to romance, I don’t know what doesn’t. See my Goodreads review to learn more.