The Rogue and the Rival

Maya Rodale
2008, Historical Romance (1820s London)
Berkley, $7.99, 336 pages, Amazon ASIN 042522452X
Part of a series

Grade: B-
Sensuality: Warm

The Rogue and the Rival is the sequel to Maya Rodale’s The Heir and the Spare. I think that book is in my TBR pile, but if it isn’t it will be soon. This is a very likeable book featuring a rake – not a fake one but a real piece of work no good rake who finally hits bottom and reforms.

Phillip Kensington, Marquis of Hawthorne (that title is all wrong) is a rake, a gambler, a drinker, a despoiler of women, and a debauchee of such monumental reputation that he is shunned by everyone. One day he runs afoul of the wrong moneylender, whose thugs beat him up and leave him near Stanbrook Abbey.

The abbess, who knew Phillip’s mother, takes him in and assigns novice nun Angela Sullivan to nurse him. Naturally, Phillip behaves as disgustingly as can be, but Angela is made of stern stuff. She is at the abbey to take vows to atone for her sin. Several years ago, Lord Lucas Frost came to the small village where Angela and her family lived and turned many heads, especially Angela’s. He wooed her and, thinking that they would soon marry, she gave herself to him. Then, filled with love, she went to her father only to find that Lucas had cried off. It seems he was already betrothed and Angela’s dowry wasn’t as large as fiancée number one’s. Angela’s father declared her a disgrace to her family and in order not to bring shame on them, she went to Stanbrook where she is now.

The wise abbess knows Angela does not have a vocation to the religious life and she is right. Phillip’s presence brings out all the passion Angela has carefully tamped down, and for his part, being almost killed has made him think things over and decide that maybe settling down might not be such a bad thing after all – so he proposes marriage and Angela accepts.

However, when the thugs find Phillip is still alive, they come after the money he owes them and they threaten Angela if they are not paid immediatly. Not wanting to put her in danger, Phillip goes to his brother for the money, leaving Angela to think he has deserted her. So she goes to London and runs into Lord Lucas Frost, who has just been widowed.

I enjoyed The Rogue and the Rival, but despite the story, it wasn’t all that angsty of a book. Neither Angela nor Phillip really suffer -not like Reggie Davenport in Mary Jo Putney’s The Rake or Lord Ragsdale in Carla Kelly’s Reforming Lord Ragsdale. Those men have been deep in the depths of despair, while Phillip only dives into the shallow end. However, he does realize what he has done and does suffer pangs of regret and his reformation is a lasting one.

I did find a lot of errors in this book (the curse of being a history buff). Stanbrook Abbey is a real place and was the inspiration of Brede Abbey in Rumer Godden’s In this House of Brede. It was founded by an Englishwoman in Flanders in 1625, but it didn’t move to England until 1838. This book is set in 1822. While she is at Stanbrook, Angela often muses about taking orders. Nuns do not take orders, they take vows. Phillip is the second son of the late Duke of Buckingham and as such his correct title is Lord Phillip Kensington. Since his brother, the current duke does not have a son as yet, this book gives Phillip the courtesy title of Marquis of Hawthorne. That’s not right. Until the duke has a son, Phillip is his heir, but he does not get the courtesy title.

Well, no matter; The Rogue and the Rival is still an engaging book, if not a deep one. I enjoyed it and will seek out The Heir and the Spare. I also look forward to reading Maya Rodale’s future offerings.

-- Ellen Micheletti

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