Desert Isle Keeper
While not technically one of Mary Jo Putney’s Fallen Angels, Lord Robert Andreville played a pivotal role in Petals in the Storm; he was that heroine’s former lover and fellow spy. Now that the war is finally over, Robin has come home to England a man on the brink, exhausted physically, emotionally, and psychically from his twelve years as a British spy in war-torn Europe. His brother Giles has inherited the marquisate and while Robin is given a warm welcome, he is at loose ends – what is a weary ex-spy to do with his life?
While napping under a tree in the woods after a good tramp, Robin is awakened when a woman dressed as a boy literally trips over him. Maxie Collins is the daughter of an Englishman and a Mohawk woman. She and her father are visiting family and she is staying with her uncle in the north of England when her father suddenly dies while on business in London. A few months later she overhears her uncle imply that her father’s death was not an accident, and there is talk of a legacy. Was her father murdered? Was her uncle involved? Looking for answers and not certain of her own safety anymore, she leaves to walk to London to her bluestocking widowed aunt, with whom she has corresponded. Once she finds some answers to the many questions about her father and uncle, she plans to return to Boston. She is three days into her journey when she trips over Robin.
Robin is fascinated. Maxie is obviously self-reliant, intelligent, and independent – not to mention beautiful – and her notion to walk to London surprises and delights him. Robin has finally found something of interest to do – he will walk with Maxie to London, whether she wants him to or not. She thinks that Robin is a charming, feckless, unemployed rogue with the face of an angel, but she cannot shake him. When she realizes that he is serious about walking the 250 miles with her, she decides that perhaps it’s nice to have some company after all. And even as Robin jokes with her, she senses his underlying shadows.
Mary Jo Putney has stated that Robin is her favorite hero, and I agree with her – I fell for him the moment I met him in Petals in the Storm. Robin is the best kind of tortured hero – one who doesn’t wear his grief on his sleeve or impose it upon others, either with sulkiness or anger. He has always been a charming, vivacious and spirited man, but those close to him – his brother, his ex-lover, and now Maxie – can see that there is an underlying melancholy beneath his hail-fellow-well-met façade. He has suffered torture and relives his physical and emotional pains in nightmares. But being with Maxie pulls him out of himself. Her corresponding spirit, coupled with her calm serenity soothes him and captivates him.
While Robin is definitely the main draw of the book for me, Maxie is a strong presence as well. She has that American spunk and lack of reverence for the English nobility coupled with a centeredness and grounding from her mother’s people, though she has never been fully accepted by or comfortable in either world. Robin’s easy acceptance, companionship, and humor ensure that they become good friends very quickly. However, when an affectionate embrace after a close escape becomes a searing kiss, things change. But they are grownups and talk things through, acknowledging their passion, and indulging it from time to time, without letting it get out of control. Maxie is on a quest, she needs answers, and she needs a friend, not a lover, though it is only a matter of time before she has both.
There is a lovely and fun secondary romance between Robin’s country gentleman brother Giles and Maxie’s young fire-breathing reformer aunt Desdemona. Both are looking for the runaways and often cross paths, rubbing each other the wrong way – and then the right way. I enjoyed this romance every bit as much as Robin and Maxie’s.
Angel Rogue is the perfect road romance with an incredibly appealing hero, a confident heroine, an expanded secondary romance, lots of sexual tension and a moving, emotion-packed denouement. What’s not to love? (Psssst…it’s just been reissued by Signet)