Click here to read Marie Hashima Lofton's review of The Rogue's Return.
The Rogue’s Return is probably one of the more stranger romance novels out there with a plot that has to be the most eyebrow-lifting. Although the characters are unique, they are a little unsettling at times.
Jane Otterburn and Simon St. Bride live in the same world but not in the same class. Once they come together, there is a deadly duel Simon must face, and he is honor-bound to marry in an unlikely arrangement.
But what is really strange is that “Jane” isn’t really Jane at all. She is really Jancy, Jane’s illegitimate cousin. Now this deception is supposed to be the main plot for this novel. But at story’s end, Simon hardly reacts to its revelation. Because it is the major plot point throughout the book, shouldn’t there be a little bit more to it?
The characters have a tepid relationship which blossoms, and some hot romantic scenes feel forced. The characters step out of themselves for odd comments about lightning feelings for each other that seem too out of place, almost ludicrous. You feel a little awkward even reading it at these times, but when it cools down back to the soft romance, it feels like it should.
For the most part, this is a cozy romance you can settle into. The world and the characters come alive, though some secondary characters steal the show. An extremely long boat ride helps the romance to come about as Jane and Simon learn about each other -- sort of, as at this point Jancy is still playing Jane. As they are on their way back to England, they keep building the romance, and Jancy keeps wondering how she is ever going to tell him the truth about who she really is.
The plot devices are interesting enough, but the reactions at the end lack a certain something special. Some awkward moments makes you wish veteran author Jo Beverley had left it as a simple soft romance given how the characters are portrayed. Beverly is a wonderful writer; her previous books were very much enjoyable but this one comes up lacking. Perhaps it is just too unbelievable at times, like she is trying to outdo her previous books by bringing in something outrageous.
This book gets two and a half stars for a strange plot and a disappointing ending. Here’s hoping the next Rogue book will be much better.