Let Sleeping Rogues Lie

Sabrina Jeffries
2008, European Historical Romance (1820s England)
Pocket, $7.50, 400 pages, Amazon ASIN 1416551514
Part of a series

Grade: B+
Sensuality: Warm

I have never so enjoyed a book with such an unlikely plot. Even though I had to work really hard to suspend disbelief throughout Let Sleeping Rogues Lie, it was definitely worth it.

Madeline teaches mathematics and natural history, an unusual subject for young ladies, at an exclusive girls’ school. Forced into work after a scandal that cost her father his livelihood, Madeline’s real passion is her scientific work. Nevertheless she’s cheerful and hardworking, if also stubborn, determined to have her way, and occasionally manipulative. However, not once is she described as feisty or any of the other annoying adjectives used for historical heroines who act a little out of the norm.

She meets the Anthony, the new Viscount Norcourt, when he comes to the school to enroll his newly orphaned niece. He knows the only way he will be granted custody of Tessa is if he can prove that he will provide her with a good education, and he wants to keep her out of the clutches of the evil aunt and uncle who raised him. Because the school is full and Madeline needs his help to clear her father’s name - Anthony’s uncle is the man who destroyed her father’s reputation - she strikes a deal with him that includes his teaching the school’s pupils “rakehell lessons.” He is to teach the young heiresses how to recognize and avoid insincere and inappropriate behavior from fortune seekers. A good idea, but an unlikely course. Anthony and Madeline’s mutual attraction develops as he spends more time at the school and also reluctantly helps her solve her problems.

I enjoyed almost everything about this book, from the intelligent, independent and pragmatic heroine, to the deliciously troubled hero. The characters were complex and dynamic and the setting refreshing, as it took place outside of London society. The attraction between Madeline and Anthony was genuine and believable, and they didn’t fight their feelings for one another too much.

A theme explored in the story was the use of nitrous oxide, both as an anesthetic, and as a recreational drug. I enjoyed reading about as it signified advances in medicine and technology - in a way that many of Lisa Kleypas’ characters are involved in industry and manufacturing - but it also came across as a little silly. In one scene, for instance, Madeline attends a nitrous oxide party populated by actual historical figures like Josiah Wedgwood, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Peter Roget of thesaurus fame.

Reading this one entertained me a great deal. I wanted everything to work out for all the characters, not just Madeline and Anthony. The scenes during which Anthony finds self-acceptance were especially touching. Even though the plot of Let Sleeping Rogues Lie is somewhat implausible, Jeffries’ writing talent more than makes up for it.

-- Jessica Langlois

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