Desert Isle Keeper
The Lady Rogue
Jenn Bennett evokes classic movies and stories of derring-do in her latest novel, Lady Rogue. Set in Europe in 1937, this fun twist on the treasure hunting tales of yore is laden with romance, adventure, and just a touch of magic.
The last time Theo (Theodora) Fox saw sexy Irish hunk Huck Gallagher she’d been enthusiastically draped across his naked body and it had led to all kinds of trouble. So it should be no surprise to her that on a day when she has been falsely accused of theft, arrested, rescued and then dumped by her chaperone/tour guide and been splattered with feces while hailing a cab, he is waiting for her in her hotel room. Trouble and Huck seem to go hand in hand, which is proven yet again when thugs break into her room while she is still trying to kick Huck out of it. Fortunately, they are able to use the balcony to escape. Unfortunately, their escape results in Theo once more sprawled across a naked Huck.
The thugs leave without what they are looking for because it was the one item Theo had taken with her onto the balcony. Once their safety has been assured, her room secured and the proper attire acquired, Huck lays out the details of why he was taking a shower in Theo’s Istanbul hotel room while she was busy having a thoroughly horrible day. He’s been sent by her father, wealthy explorer/adventurer Richard Fox, to bring Theo to Romania, where Richard has followed the latest clue in his quest for the legendary, magical ring of Vlad the Impaler. She’s to bring with her Richard’s travel journal, the item she was fortuitously holding when she and Huck had to exit the room. They have tickets for a train out of Turkey that night.
Their luxurious journey via the Orient Express is going smoothly until their breakfast is disturbed by a mysterious man and his wolfish dog. Both Theo and Huck believe they have encountered ‘him before; Theo met him in her hotel just before her reunion with Huck and finds it odd that he ‘happens’ to have left the place at the exact time she did. Huck is convinced he had seen him in Tokat, the area he was in before joining Theo, and is certain the man and uncanny canine followed him to her. Excusing themselves from the dining table, they hastily head back to their room to hatch a getaway plan. During the train’s next stop, they avoid the depot and disappear into the Turkish countryside, determined to lose their disconcerting pursuer.
Before their journey reaches its conclusion they will share a drunken evening in a caravan camp, tour crime scenes in the pouring rain, steal a plane, and have their fortune told by a witch. And a love they both feared had gone cold will reignite as they search for the cursed, powerful ring of a man with a deeply violent history.
Some books I just want to gush about, and Lady Rogue is one of them. In fairness, I was predisposed to love it since I’m a big fan of tales of treasure hunts and equally enthusiastic about Jenn Bennett’s writing. It helped that I thoroughly enjoyed the characters. Theo is my preferred type of alpha heroine; she leads when she is the one with knowledge or expertise on a subject but is equally willing to follow when she is not. She’s got a strong sense of self-worth but isn’t made difficult or conceited by it, she has a nice sense of humor and is kind, loyal and loving. She trusts her instincts and has a fair sense of which people will help her and a keen intuition for who her rivals are.
Huck is the best sort of beta male. He doesn’t need to be in charge but that doesn’t mean he’s a pushover. He’s competent, completely trustworthy, congenial, funny, and perfect for our heroine.
The romance here is lovely. Huck and Theo have history that has to be worked out, but they are willing to listen to each other and trust each other almost immediately. They work well together and I loved the mixed up proverb jokes they share throughout the story. It not only added a humorous element to the narrative but served as a nice way to highlight the bond between them. And the story is very much a romance; while the ring is the impetus for the plot, the author spends an equal amount of time creating a charming love story.
The pacing here is brisk and the action almost non-stop. An occult society is also searching for the ring and its members seem willing to go to great lengths – including murder – to acquire it. Theo and Huck expand a lot of energy avoiding this dangerous band of villains, which leads to some of the more thrilling moments in the tale. The history and mystery and magic surrounding the ring are fascinating, and add an interesting, eerie zest to the quest for the historic and possibly cursed item.
My only complaint is that I felt the author didn’t utilize her time frame enough. The late nineteen thirties were a period of great upheaval, as the old order was being ushered out and modernization was gripping the world. I didn’t feel as though Jenn Bennett quite captured a sense of the era, in terms of clothes, food or culture in her story. That’s a quibble, though, as the tale works fine without it.
Lady Rogue is a fun and adventurous romance novel that I think anyone who enjoys treasure hunts or road romances will love. I am happy to be able to recommend it for those looking for a book featuring daring exploits and sweet romance.