The Wedding Night of an English Rogue
I’m a history geek – I’ll admit it. I can be jerked out of a story by anachronisms that a non-geek would not even notice. But I get no respect from my nearest and dearest. I read The Wedding Night of an English Rogue while my daughter watched television and complained that Heath Boscastle rode in a hansom cab in 1814 when the hansom cab wasn’t invented until 1834. My daughter rolled her eyes and said, “Mom, no one cares, and by the way if you know so much, why aren’t you trying out for Jeopardy?” As Rodney Dangerfield would say, “No respect at all.”
Colonel Sir Russell Althorne asks his good friend Lieutenant Colonel Lord Heath Boscastle to protect his fiancée Julia Whitby while Russell chases down a lead on French spy Armand Auclair. Heath has several reasons to be grateful to Russell; they are long time friends, Russell lost an eye while rescuing Heath in battle, and he also rescued Heath from Auclair, who was torturing him. Honor compels Heath to help his friend, but honor may be complicated by past history between Heath and Julia. Several years ago at a hunting party, Julia accidentally shot Heath. The bullet only grazed Heath, but Julia felt guilty and when she went to his room that night to check on him, passion flared hot between them.
But neither Julia nor Heath followed up on their mutual attraction and went their separate ways. Julia married Lord Whitby and was widowed a few years later. Heath went to war and was captured and tortured by Auclair. In the meantime, Russell wooed Julia and she agreed to marry him. Heath owes Russell a large debt, and agrees to watch Julia. But as soon as Heath and Julia meet again, the attraction between them flares up hotter than ever.
There are several good things about this book: The dialogue was witty and sharp, Julia and Heath were a likable, intelligent and well matched pair, and the beginning and end of the book zipped along nicely. The love scenes were hot and sensual and it was such a refreshing change that Julia was not a young virgin.
However, if you are looking for period detail – forget it! While the book is set in 1814, the characters talk and act like moderns in Regency garb. At one point Heath models for a drawing class for Julia, her aunt and some friends, all of whom are ladies. Although Heath is not nude, he is shirtless and during this time period, gentlemen did not even take off their coats in mixed company. There’s a secondary character – a courtesan who is well known, well liked and who gives lessons in how to please a man to the young women in the neighborhood. During this time, rather than consulting her, respectable women would have shunned her.
There’s a sub-plot concerning a mysterious man who makes some attempts on Julia, but this sub-plot only comes to life toward the end of the book. Actually the whole book only comes to life toward the end. It has the saggiest middle ever.
While Heath and Julia were a most likable pair of lovers, that sagging middle made me want to skip large chunks of it. I was moderately engaged while reading, but I never had that “oh wow this is so good!” feeling, nor did I want to stay up late to read it. It was simply a nice, average book.