Once More, My Darling Rogue
I have been fairly lucky over the course of my reading career in that I have seldom been faced with main characters that I genuinely dislike. Normally I’m able to find at least one redeeming feature about each character. Lady Ophelia Lyttleton did not succeed in breaking that record, but she was bothersome enough that it was a close thing.
Drake Darling was born a street rat, and he knows that being the adopted son of the Duke and Duchess of Greystone does not change who and what he is inside. However, that knowledge doesn’t mean that he’s pleased when Lady Ophelia Lyttleton, the best friend of his sister Grace, takes every opportunity to remind him of his low pedigree. The woman gets under his skin as no one else can, so when he finds her washed up on the shores of the Thames without her memory, he seizes the opportunity for a little revenge and convinces her that she’s his housekeeper.
Ophelia, or Phee as she is now known, is the least capable housekeeper a man could find. As soon as she wakes up, she begins ordering Drake to fetch her nicer linens and clothing. He tells her that her station in life does not entail such finery, but she is firmly convinced that she is worth more than he says she is. This display went a long way in convincing me that her hauteur was more than just skin deep, but rather an integral part of her personality.
Of course, Drake doesn’t have any trouble falling in love with this snobbish woman. Although it didn’t seem to me that her personality underwent a major turnaround, Drake certainly felt that each time she spoke to him politely rather than with malice it was a sign that she was becoming a better person. He decided that her inability to back down on any issue was charming, though at one time it had vexed him to no end. His only worry is that this blissful state of affairs wherein he and Phee are able to live together peacefully will end soon. Naturally, it does, and it ends with Phee hating him for all of his lies.
To this point, I had considered Once More, My Darling Rogue to be a fairly mediocre book. I found neither the amnesia plot nor the romance between Phee and Drake all that realistic, but those were annoyances that I could move past. What I could not dismiss was the drama that erupted once Phee regained her memory. There was a bit of a mystery surrounding her tumble into the Thames, which I had initially enjoyed. However, once the cause of her accident was revealed, it opened up a whole new can of worms. Ms. Heath could easily have spent an entire novel focused on the new issues that arose, but instead she solved them quickly and gave Drake and Phee their Happily Ever After. This bothered me greatly, because it felt like an entire new, very serious problem had been erected for the sole purpose of adding a little excitement to the last 50 pages.
Ultimately, I think that those last pages are what made me dislike this book. Although I wasn’t Phee’s biggest fan, she wasn’t aggravating enough to bring this story a grade in the D range. That honor belongs to the end of the novel, when horrors from Phee’s childhood were brought up and dealt with poorly. I’m holding out hope that Ms. Heath’s next book will be better, but this one was definitely a disappointment.