Romancing the Rogue
I’ve enjoyed Barbara Dawson Smith in the past, particularly Her Secret Affair. However, Romancing the Rogue didn’t quite work for me. While the heroine is interesting and the story had potential, the hero’s continuous lack of trust was a problem. Sure, I expected some distrust on his part because the heroine was a Gypsy, but Michael’s distrust went on for too long.
Michael Kenyon, the Marquess of Stokeford, is sure that the lovely Vivien Thorne is a charlatan. She is, after all, a Gypsy. However, his grandmother and her friends (the Rosebuds) are convinced that Vivien is the long-lost daughter of his former governess. He vows to do what he can to expose her as a fraud.
Vivien doesn’t really care about the fortune that could be available to her. She prefers the Gypsy life to that of the gorgio – after all, it was a gorgio lord who was responsible for the injury that crippled her father. Vivien plans to take the small amount of money offered by the Rosebuds and give it to her parents. That way, she won’t have to marry the Gypsy suitor she hates.
Michael spends much of his time trying to expose Vivien as a liar, even as he tries to get her into his bed. Meanwhile, oblivious to Michael’s plans, the Rosebuds try to play matchmaker. However, no one knows about the role that the secrets of the past will play in the end.
Michael distrusts Vivien, misconstrues her motives, and sees “pretense” in every kind act she performs. I know that Gypsies are often the focus of suspicion. But Michael’s distrust often lacks common sense. For example, she stares at him brazenly, without blushing, so he decides she must be a trollop. He knows she’s a Gypsy, so why does he expect her to act like a demure British miss? Besides, for someone who is so angry at being deceived, it doesn’t take him long to try to seduce Vivien for his own means. This is not to say that Michael can’t be charming and even sympathetic, but all too often, he becomes yet another distrustful hero who refuses to deal with his past.
Vivien was more interesting to me. Throughout the story, she remains devoted to the Gypsies who raised her, particularly her parents. From the start, her plans are to live with the Rosebuds only because they will give her a sum of money – enough to give her Gypsy parents the life they deserve. She even feels guilty when she finds herself enjoying the pleasures of gorgio life. And unlike Michael’s distrust and hatred of Gypsies, her antipathy toward British lords is understandable because of what happened to her father.
Michael’s grandmother and her friends are charming, if meddlesome. The other secondary characters are colorful – conniving or intolerant, or both. I found this novel’s background very interesting and enjoyed the fact that Smith portrays the Gypsy people in a positive light.
If you like romances with plenty of conflict between the hero and heroine, you might enjoy Romancing the Rogue. There are also plenty of secrets and surprises to keep the novel moving. However, it does not have a very in-depth story, and if you have a low tolerance for distrustful heroes, approach this book with caution.