Reclaiming Lord Rockleigh
The characters in Reclaiming Lord Rockleigh made this one of the most enjoyable Regency Romances I have read this year. Lord Rockleigh Conniston and Mercy Tavistock are not new character types – she’s a bluestocking and he is a rake – but they transcend their one-word descriptions and become very alive and engaging. I was hooked from the first page.
Lord Rockleigh Conniston is the third son of the Duke of Barrisford. His two older brothers are the dutiful ones; Francis, the heir, is learning estate management and Trent is carving out a distinguished career in the Army. If all went to plan, Roc would be climbing the ecclesiastical ladder, but he hasn’t set foot in a church in years. Roc has an independent income and has used it to wench, gamble, race, box and carry on like the chief of the hellions. Lately, he has taken to smoking opium and this is too much for his best friend Stanley Flemish. Something has to give.
Enter Mercy Tatlock. Mercy is a journalist. Her father owns a newspaper, The Trumpet, and Mercy (a very strongminded young lady) has worked on it from a very young age. Roc owns a house near where Mercy and her family live and that house is full of young boys. Rumors are that it is a house of assignation, and The Trumpet prints an editorial accusing Roc of being a panderer. He plans to sue Mr. Tatlock. Then Mercy’s younger brother Toby comes to London and picks a fight with Roc who challenges Toby to a duel. Clearly this mess needs a sensible woman to straighten it out, and Mercy comes in to challenge Roc.
Roc is a character I love; the rake who is a rake because he is bored to death and needs a challenge to fire him up and give him something to do with himself. Reggie from Mary Jo Putney’s The Rake and Lord Ragsdale from Carla Kelly’s Reforming Lord Ragsdale are both bored rakes who meet intelligent women who complete them, and Roc is quite at home in their distinguished company. I knew that when he met Mercy that sparks would fly and his cold heart would melt. Their interactions lived up to my expectations.
Mercy is a dear. She is a bluestocking, but she isn’t homely. No, Mercy is quite pretty and has no idea how very pretty she is. She has terrible taste in bonnets (Roc throws one in the coal bin) and she has a delightful sense of humor. At one point, Roc hires a troupe of Morris dancers to dance and sing around her in the hopes that she will be embarrassed. Mercy’s reaction is to laugh and clap her hands then invite them to the nearest tea shop for refreshments (courtesy of Lord Rockleigh Conniston.)
The latter part of the book containing revelations about the true purpose of the house full of boys on Roc’s property was a surprise to me and a big surprise at that. The secondary characters in this book are all delightful as they can be, especially Roc’s parents who love him very much, but don’t understand him all that well. Even Roc’s two brothers who are only talked about make their presence known and I hope to see them in a future book or two.
Nancy Butler won a RITA award for her Regency The Rake’s Retreat, and she is on my Regency auto-buy list. She has a knack for taking stock characters such as Rockleigh the Rake and Mercy the Bluestocking and making them fresh and new. I read this book in an unbound ARC with lots of typos. As soon as it’s out on the shelf, I’m going to the bookstore and buying a finished copy – I’d like another visit with Mercy and Roc.