Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Rogue Not Taken - Sarah MacLean (Avon - Jan 2016)

Series: Scandal and Scoundrel (Book 1)

Lady Sophie’s Society Splash

When Sophie, the least interesting of the Talbot sisters, lands her philandering brother-in-law backside-first in a goldfish pond in front of all society, she becomes the target of very public aristocratic scorn. Her only choice is to flee London, vowing to start a new life far from the aristocracy. Unfortunately, the carriage in which she stows away isn’t saving her from ruin . . . it’s filled with it.

Rogue’s Reign of Ravishment!

Kingscote, “King,” the Marquess of Eversley, has never met a woman he couldn’t charm, resulting in a reputation far worse than the truth, a general sense that he’s more pretty face than proper gentleman, and an irate summons home to the Scottish border. When King discovers stowaway Sophie, however, the journey becomes anything but boring.

War? Or More?

He thinks she’s trying to trick him into marriage. She wouldn’t have him if he were the last man on earth. But carriages bring close quarters, dark secrets, and unbearable temptation, making opposites altogether too attractive . . .

Good book. Sophie is the youngest of the Talbot sisters and the only one who doesn't enjoy the family's scandalous reputation. Her father bought his title, having made his money in coal, but the aristocracy hasn't really accepted them. Her father is immersed in his business, her mother is determined that each of the girls marries a title. Several of the girls are involved in relationships with questionable men. The oldest married a duke, but her method of catching him was less than honorable. When Sophie stumbles across him with another woman, she is furious on behalf of her sister. She berates him loudly and shoves him into a fishpond. Unfortunately for her, it was witnessed by almost everyone attending the event and they make their disapproval of her very clear. 

In order to escape the ball, Sophie tries to get a ride in Eversley's carriage, but he denies her the assistance. So instead, she dresses as a footman and stows away on the carriage, not realizing that he isn't headed to his town home but to his father's estate in Cumbria. By the time she discovers it, it is far too late to do anything about it.

I liked Sophie. She is smart, she is sassy and she is protective of her family, even though she doesn't approve of their actions. I enjoyed seeing her take on her brother-in-law, even though she didn't consider the consequences. However, she doesn't have a good picture of herself, feeling that she is the plain sister with none of the fun that others see in her sisters. 

I had a harder time warming up to King. He is known for ruining women's reputations and seems quite proud of it. He wasn't at all helpful when Sophie asked for his assistance, and was actually quite unpleasant. King was estranged from his father over something that happened when he was younger and tends to look quite cynically at the people around him. He is aware of the Talbots' reputations and is determined that he not fall into what he sees as Sophie's attempt to trap him. I got quite frustrated with the way that he constantly insulted her, even though he claimed it wasn't intentional.

I loved their first meeting and how Sophie tried to get him to help her. Their conversation was pretty funny, as Sophie tried to get his help and King was determined to resist her attempts. It was fun to see her take matters into her own hands, and her dismay when she finally realized that it hadn't gone the way she planned. Their confrontation at the inn, when King discovered what she had done, was pretty intense. King's tunnel vision about her actions caused him to be pretty obnoxious. I thoroughly enjoyed the way that she managed her escape from him. But for all his insistence that she wasn't his problem, he couldn't leave her on her own. I loved seeing him go after her, and how he was there when she needed rescuing.

Though both insist that they don't even like each other, they are attracted. Their conversations are mostly opportunities to take verbal shots at each other, with each convinced that their opinion of the other is correct. King began to grow on me a little bit with his care of Sophie after the stage robbery. He gave in to her request for a ride to the village she grew up in, but he is still constantly suspicious. But he once again made me mad with his actions at the bakery. At first I thought he was actually trying to help her, but then his motives were revealed. He made his plan known to her with absolutely no thought to its effect on her, with his insulting opinion not even hidden behind a facade of pleasantness. I ached for Sophie, who by this time really wanted him to see her in a better light. I loved seeing her stand up to both King and his father at that first dinner, followed by her happiness when she had dinner with the servants. I felt like I was almost constantly irritated with King as he never thought before he spoke, which just kept beating down on Sophie. She was falling in love with him, and just wanted to be loved in return. I had some hope for him when he opened up with her and told her what had caused his rift with his father. But in spite of his growing feelings for her, he makes no secret of his intention never to marry.

The arrival of her family, with their stories of what had happened after Sophie left, leaves her feeling even more guilty about her actions. Her father has a plan for making it right, but it is a plan that she wants no part of. She and King are finally growing closer, and this plan would drive him away completely. What happens next just emphasizes King's blindness when it comes to Sophie. A surprising twist regarding the event that caused the rift between King and his father throws everything King had believed into turmoil and he starts to see what an idiot he has been. I liked his confession to Sophie at the end, but thought that she forgave him a little too easily. I hope to see them in later books and see if Sophie has managed to civilize him.

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