Sometimes a Rogue
One major eye roll. That’s what Sometimes a Rogue was. Even now I look at the book and wrinkle my nose, as though even the cover conveys the overly sweet, life-is-perfect-and-nothing-bad-can-really-touch-me vibe that I got from the pages within. I am a fan of Mary Jo Putney’s work, generally, but this book just didn’t do it for me.
Sarah Clarke-Townsend is out for a ride with her heavily pregnant sister, Maria, Duchess of Ashton, when she overhears some scoundrels talking about how they’re out to kidnap the duchess. Knowing that there’s no chance of escape, she hides Maria and allows herself to be taken instead. Poor Maria is left alone in the countryside with her labor pains beginning.
Rob Carmichael is just passing through the countryside when he decides he’ll pay a visit to his old school chum, the Duke of Ashton. What he finds is chaos—a duchess in labor who’s hysterical with worry for her sister. Since he’s a Bow Street Runner with nothing much to do, Rob offers to go after Sarah. He chases her kidnappers into Ireland and rescues her handily, although they have a close call at the end when the yawl they’re sailing back to England capsizes. Luckily, they wash up on the shores of the Kellington estate, Rob’s childhood home, where more surprises are in store for them.
It seems Rob’s father and elder brother, both of whom treated him abominably and caused their estrangement, have died and left Rob to become the Earl of Kellington. He was assumed dead when he disappeared years ago (his brother forced him on a slave ship to India and he didn’t alert any family when he returned to England), but now that he’s clearly alive there are duties to attend to. Rob’s life as a Runner is over, and he’s abruptly thrust into the role of aristocrat. Were it not for Sarah, who remained at the estate to help him, he’d likely be going mad.
This, naturally, prompts Rob to propose to Sarah. She’s nice to have around, he lusts after her, and they’re both unattached—the perfect recipe for marriage. Sarah apparently agrees, since next thing you know they’re wed and discovering they actually do love each other after all.
The story itself was not bad. Not at all. Kidnappings and Bow Street Runners turned earls can make for interesting plotlines. No, the problem here was the characters. The rather bland characters.
I think it stems from the fact that Sarah and Rob are both secondary characters from Putney’s previous books. I did wonder about them some when I read the stories they show up in, and I did figure they would each get their own book someday. But I didn’t want that sort of vague “This girl should get her own book!” to turn out like this. What I mean is, I’d hoped that when they had their own stories Sarah and Rob would show some more personality than they did as secondary characters.
Sadly, this is not the case. Yes, they were each more developed here, but no, they weren’t much more interesting. Are they witty? Do they have hobbies? Is there anything to make either one stand out in a crowd other than their perpetual happiness? I don’t know. It’s difficult to explain what makes characters interesting and fun to read about—there’s just a sort of je ne sais quoi that’s a part of the good ones. And although Sarah and Rob are both very nice people, they just don’t have it.
Which leads me back to the eye rolling. Every so often the couple would take the niceness and sweetness just a little too far. They never got really angry at each other—the sun is always shining for Rob and Sarah. I can only take so many perfect moments of perfection, and I reached my limit around page 120. The rest of it was just overkill.