The Rogue Steals a Bride
Sometimes my initial impression of a book is incorrect. Usually, that’s a good thing, when my first thoughts about a book are negative and then things improve. In The Rogue Steals a Bride, though, it was the opposite. What started out as an interesting, light-hearted book, went downhill quite quickly.
Our heroine, Sophia Hart, is an heiress to a shipping company. Her father was wealthy, but never fully accepted into society, so on his deathbed he made Sophia promise to “marry a title.” (They rarely, if ever, say, “Marry a man with a title,” which is a bit troubling to me.) One day while she is out walking with her two spinster aunts, a child thief makes off with her reticule, which contained a brooch, the only thing she has left of her late mother’s, after everything was destroyed in a fire. Mr. Matson Brentwood is a victim of the thief too, and when he sees Sophia he falls halfway in love with her. However, he soon discovers that her guardian, a friend and business partner of her father’s, is actually Matson’s father. Matson and his twin brother (a hero of a previous novel) were largely raised in America, because they were the result of a one-time affair between their mother and Sir Randolph. The resemblance is uncanny, so when they return to England as adults, they are the subject of cruel gossip.
So, the dilemma: Matson is attracted to Sophia, but any connection with her (and, therefore, Sir Randolph) would be scandalous. Sophia is attracted to Matson, but he is a younger son, and therefore untitled. They still share several kisses (and more), and are paired together for a May Day celebration involving a boat race.
The book started out enjoyably enough, and I figured it would be a pleasant, if forgettable, story. But after about, oh, five pages or so, more and more flaws started piling up. The premise – that Sophia made this vow to only marry someone with a title – is flimsy, and was never bolstered believably. When it is ultimately resolved, it made that original set-up even less likely, and Sophia’s dogged attachment to her promise less understandable. She foolishly and anachronistically refuses to marry Matson even after they have sex (the first time, laughably and improbably, takes place in a rowboat on the Serpentine).
Believability was the crux of the problems in this book. Besides that initial premise, the story about the thief was unbelievable. Dialogue was anachronistic and unbelievable. A side romance at the very end was sudden and unbelievable. A large majority of the story, I was rolling my eyes and thinking to myself, “No way would that happen.”
The writing itself was far more flowery and purple than suits my taste. Things that were supposed to be funny or significant felt lackluster and uninspired. The characters were one-dimensional and not particularly interesting. At the very end, Matson seriously considers kidnapping Sophia. I almost dropped the book, I was so shocked. Talk about a red flag. There are good books that make a kidnapping – or urge to kidnap – work well as part of an arc of character development. But what troubled me about this is how normal the author made it seem. Like wanting to force your will upon the woman you love is romantic, or an acceptable means to an end. It’s not.
There is very little, if anything, redeemable about this book. While the book cover and its Amazon page have numerous positive quotes from reviews and other authors, I have to wonder if they were reading the same author as I was. Based on the other reviews published at AAR, The Rogue Steals a Bride wasn’t an aberration, but the norm.