Jo Beverley has been an auto-buy for me now for several years. I’ve read most of her back list and I think she really is one of the better romance authors writing today. Her books often take an unusual twist and she’s not afraid to take a risk. She has a reputation for being meticulous in her research. She manages to convey a fine sense of time and place without dumping too much information.
So how come this book sat in my TBR pile for nearly a year? It was released last June and I remember buying it the week it was published. But for some reason I kept putting it aside.
Ms. Beverley has built her own Regency world through her “Company of Rogues” series, books that tell the stories of a group of friends who formed a club of sorts when they were boys together at Harrow. The book previous to this one, To Rescue a Rogue, completed the Rogues’ stories. So where to go from here? Well, she took a character who had a small, but significant role in TRAR, and gave him his own book. Horatio Cave (pronounced Cah-vey), now Viscount Darien, had also gone to school at Harrow with the Rogues, but was someone looking in from the outside and hated that school boy club. As an adult he witnesses something that happens to Lord Darius (the Rogue hero of TRAR) at Waterloo and by speaking up he would clear Dare of negative suspicions over Dare’s actions in the battle. Darien does the right thing in TRAR and Ms. Beverley uses Lady Beware to tell us about Darien and why he chose to do the honorable thing when he could have kept silent in revenge for the mistreatment he’d felt as a young boy. (Yes, Dare and Darien. Very confusing.) Darien himself comes from a family that left scandal in its wake and it’s amazing that Darien is at all “normal” given his upbringing. Darien wants to restore his family’s good name and become accepted by London society. Given how he’s been treated through his life, it’s surprising that he’d want this, but he does have his reasons.
It’s an interesting premise that I have to say just fell a little flat for me. LB opens at the ball where Darien confronts Dare’s sister, Lady Thea, and basically threatens Thea by saying he WON’T tell what he saw unless she agrees to become betrothed to him. Thea reluctantly agrees, Darien says his piece and leaves the ball. Dare’s grateful family takes Darien under their wings and even Thea goes to the Rogues and enlists their help to restore Darien to society. Thea even manages to convince Darien to keep silent about their betrothal agreement at the same time the two of them become attracted to one another.
Darien gives up the betrothal agreement rather easily and also seems to accept help from the previously hated Rogues just as easily. And I guess this is why it fell flat for me. It was all rather easy. Instead conflict comes in the part of a fellow army officer who causes mischief in other ways. I think the internal conflict of resolving long-held resentments and dealing with one’s attraction to a woman who is the sister of the person who sat at the center of those resentments would have been far more interesting.
Ultimately I can only give this a qualified recommendation. Fans of the Rogues’ series should read it (and probably have already). If you’re new to Jo Beverley start with some of her other books—most of them are really excellent.