Waiting for a Rogue
Oh yeah – you’ve definitely read this formula before. Man hates women because of his past – until heroine. Heroine hates men because of her past – until hero. The romance in Waiting for a Rogue features two people falling in love as they aid the dementia-stricken great aunt of the heroine and banter over a boundary marker that divides their properties. Even with the overly-convoluted plot and formulaic twists involved – you won’t see that storyline in a lot of places.
Lady Caroline Rowe – daughter of the Duke and Duchess of Pemberton – is done with the marriage mart. Her last season ended in disaster following a midnight trip out of London with her best friend and neighbor Eliza’s roguish beau and subsequent loss of her fiancé. She had been trying to protect her Aunt Frances from nasty gossip which might lead to her being institutionalized, but everything went wrong, leaving Caroline is embittered about both love and her parent’s uselessness. Now Eliza – having lost her father, brother and husband in one fell swoop – has moved away with her young daughter, and that’s one too many changes for Caroline to accept. Caroline charges immediately into the situation to argue that Eliza’s former home, WIllowbrook House, falls on her family’s side of the land boundary in the hope of dislodging the new owner, who’s moved in with his mother next door – a man that Caroline simply and disdainfully refers to as The American.
For Jonathan Cartwick, coming back to England is a matter of thumbing his nose at the ton – his family had been shunned by British society because they were poor relations. They moved to America and there his father’s shipbuilding empire made them rich, and now, by a tragic stroke of fate, he has become landed gentry. It’s all come too late for Jonathan’s father, who died before they could reach prosperity, leaving Jonathan bitter about what could’ve been – as did his broken engagement to a woman named Letita.
Even though Elisa has a new husband and happy ending of her own, as per book two of the series, The Viscount Can Wait, and lives elsewhere, Caroline blames Jonathan for driving Eliza away, counting him as another example of male dominance and another reason she has vowed she will never marry. No matter how cute Jonathan is. But as her aunt’s ailment worsens – and her parents threaten to marry Caroline off since she refuses to choose a husband – will she get her own happy ending.
Caroline can’t do anything about Willowbrook House without her father’s permission. The ton does not seem overly scandalized by his existence and he has acres of land; he couldn’t part with five for Eliza?
Waiting for a Rogue is one of those romances where everyone is kind, but massively flawed. This sometimes makes them human, and sometimes makes you want to step on their faces. Thus, Jonathan does come off as selfish and thoughtless about Eliza’s plight, and he hates English society and cultural mores so much you wonder why he’s bothering to play at gentry living when he hates everything about it. Caroline comes off as immaturely bratty and then tearily moribund – acting entitled to land that doesn’t belong to her (she doesn’t see why Jonathan shouldn’t just give a few acres to Eliza seeing he has so many), which is plain silly as neither Eliza nor Frances need the land, so her fight is ridiculous from the start. Later, she hits her big ‘all is lost’ moment and becomes weepy and cowed by her parent’s presence. Where was her earlier fearless fire?
Ahh, but at least Jonathan and Caroline are not cowed by one another. Banter they do. Clearly, they’re destined for each other – when they’re splitting arrows together or Jonathan’s comforting Caroline after dealing with her aunt’s faltering, they work quite well. And I liked Frances and Jonathan’s smart-as-heck mother a lot.
Unfortunately, I can’t reveal the plot-point that truly sunk the book for me – but considering what Caroline knows of Frances, that she blames the woman for her actions is bizarre. She’s forgotten Caroline’s name and face at least once and keeps chasing her childhood rabbit around the grounds of the estate in her shift; I had no idea why Caroline would see the notion of what happens so horrifying.
The romance does work (mostly), which is why Waiting for a Rogue doesn’t dip into D territory. It’s not perfect, it’s not bad – it’s just… average