(Must Love Rogues, #1)
Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)
A Lady Ready for Battle:
Miss Harriet Manning once made the mistake of falling completely, totally, and irreversibly in love with a duke’s son. It’s a mistake she won’t repeat twice. Truly. Especially since he abandoned her just when they were about to elope to Gretna Green. Five years later, Harriet hasn’t forgotten the way Lord Garret’s smoldering gaze and wicked sense of humor touched her soul. Still, there’s no way she’ll forgive the traitorous libertine, no matter how he stirs her passions. Now, Harriet is determined to show him she doesn’t care, and never did, by making merry right under his nose but a tragic turn of events at her cousin’s wedding has her wondering if just maybe, love deserves one last chance.
A Lord Who Lost His Heart:
Lord Garret Hart, second son of a duke and now brother to the present Duke of Huntsdown, is never ever EVER getting married. Bachelorhood is for him. After all, women are the very devil. Especially one woman. Miss Harriet Manning is Garret’s own personal Medusa and she has turned his heart to stone. Indeed she has, but not before she absolutely ripped it to shreds, leaving him a complete wreck. Nothing will ever induce him to matrimony or nauseating protestations of boyish love again. But when he is forced into close proximity at his brother’s wedding with the woman who first taught him to dream and see the world as a wondrous place, sparks flash and passions explode. Still, Harriet is not to be trusted. She callously betrayed him once. So how can he ever allow himself another chance at love when love always seems to hurt so much?
I remember seeing the Royal Shakespeare Company’s excellent production of “Much Ado About Nothing” at Stratford upon Avon in 1976, starring renowned British actors Judi Dench and Donald Sinden. You are probably asking what this has to do with my review. Well, Ms Devon draws inspiration for her book from that play…a story of misunderstandings, betrayal, deceptions and enduring love.
As I have come to expect from Eva Devon, THE ROGUE AND I, the first book in her Must Love Rogues series, is funny, emotional, romantic and sensual but also tinged with sadness.
The flashbacks that are interspersed throughout the first part of the book allow us to see Garret and Harriet as romantic young lovers with hopes and dreams before the pain of betrayal shatters their love. These flashbacks made it easy for me to understand the hurt and anger Harriet and Garret feel and why, whenever they meet, they engage in such biting verbal duelling.
“How ever did you survive without me to criticize you these past months? He asked cheerfully.
“Never doubt my ability to sharpen my wit without you about, easy target that you are.”
He tsked. “How sad that you must always be so sharp. “ He crossed towards her, his powerful legs eating up the short space. At last, he stood before her, looking down several inches, his dark eyes glinting. “Someone will soon clip your claws.”
Harry met that gaze and tilted her chin up. With a surprising gesture even to herself, she planted her hands on her hips. “Not before I scratch their face.”
The witty skirmishes between these two strong and stubborn people certainly provide plenty of laughs but also expose their vulnerabilities. It is these vulnerabilities that make Harriet and Garret such endearing characters.
Despite all this hostility, I could feel the sexual tension between them and it’s obvious they still have deep feelings for each other although wild horses wouldn’t drag the truth from them. Family machinations do more harm than good and it takes an act of malice to unite them in a common cause, allowing them to finally admit their love for each other. It does take Garret a little longer to realise how much he loves Harriet but his declaration of love is well worth waiting for…definitely sigh-worthy.
“You are the love of my life and I will never be content in this life without you. How can I live without my happiness anymore, my Lady of Shalot, my Harry.”
There is a secondary romance between Emmeline (Harry’s cousin) and Edward (Garret’s brother) but what happens on their wedding day is truly heart-breaking. I cheered Emmeline when she rises from the ashes stronger and more confident and Edward deserves every harsh word she throws at him. I loved Garret for believing in Emmeline even when his brothers refuse to.
I hated John, Garret’s half-brother, for all the heartache he caused but I was intrigued by his character and his motivations. I just wonder whether redemption is on the cards for him.
I was delighted by Garret’s words in the Epilogue which suggest more books to come…
“But none of them are at the end of their story, so happily ever after may yet await them,” Garret said brightly.
How I imagine Garret and Harriet –
Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson in
“Much Ado About Nothing ” (1993)
My Verdict: A great start to a new series. Definitely recommended!
REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS
SENSUALITY RATING: HOT
Read July 2015
**My thanks to Eva Devon for sending me a copy of this book in return for an honest review. **