The Virgin and the Rogue
The Virgin and the Rogue is not a romance. Ignore the cover and the title and the publisher, all of which imply that this book is pure, unadulterated, classic historical romance. It’s not. This is a book about a young woman on a journey of sexual awakening that begins with her sexually assaulting a man while she’s under the influence of drugs.
Charlotte Langley lives with her sisters and brother-in-law, the Duke of Warrington. She is betrothed to a local gentleman, but when the duke’s illegitimate stepbrother, Kingston, comes to dinner and her sister’s potion for Charlotte’s PMS symptoms turn into an aphrodisiac, within twelve hours Charlotte is dry humping Kingston in the library and they’re trading oral down by the lake (her period conveniently never appears to put any damper on her sexual activity for the duration of Kingston’s stay). Pretty soon Charlotte is questioning her matrimonial choices in all the illumination of her afterglow. There’s at least one reference to A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the book to explain this madness, but the story is – forgive the obvious pun – not a dream but a nightmare.
I love the TV show Grey’s Anatomy, and many seasons ago one character described another as “having her heart in her vagina” because she inevitably professed love for every man she had sex with. This perfectly describes Charlotte, because there is no other way to explain how she could claim HEA love for a man after having only two conversations within the space of around 150 pages. Charlotte is a heroine who aspires to domesticity, but instead of showing her as a person who is just as interesting as her sister, Nora, who disdains the prospect of love in favor of “science” (i.e. playing pharmacist and sometimes lying to her sister and making her believe she’s been drugged against her will – yup), Jordan makes Charlotte come across as the “graceless, insipid and uninspiring” woman that another character describes her as. And Charlotte also comes across as a sexual predator.
Her first sexual experience with Kingston involves her dry humping him until she orgasms. Throughout the experience, he never kisses her or otherwise physically engages with her in her act, and only at the very end, when she’s on the verge of coming, does he encourage her – early, clear consent is nonexistent. Compounding this grotesqueness is that for the rest of the book, Charlotte and Kingston often describe her behavior during the experience as “assault” or “accosting” but in a way that makes it clear it’s supposed to be shockingly amusing, which it is not. In Jordan’s version of the English language, it seems “assault” is to be defined as “a natural and applaudable act of female sexual passion”.
The dramatic culmination of the novel comes without a single warning – without giving spoilers, the author forgot to include a literal smoking gun, or other flammable item that would make what happens plausible. The only flames this book fanned in me were the flames of disgusted shock.