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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Book Review: Rules for a Rogue by Christy Carlyle

rules for a rogue
Rules for a Rogue by Christy Carlyle
Book 1 of the Romancing a Rogue Series
ARC, e-Book, 368 pages
Avon Impulse
November 1, 2016
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Heat Level:

Genre: Historical Romance, Victorian England

Source: Received from publisher for review for Romantic Historical Reviews
From the USA Today bestselling author of ONE DANGEROUS DESIRE comes a sparkling new series about a rogue who must learn how to follow the rules and a woman who wants to break all of them, perfect for fans of Maya Rodale and Lorraine Heath.
Following the rules never brought anything but misery for Christopher “Kit” Ruthven. After rebelling against his controlling father and leaving the family’s Ruthven Rules etiquette book empire behind, Kit has been breaking every one imaginable for the past six years. He’s enjoyed London’s sensual pleasures and secured his reputation as a Rogue, but he’s failed to achieve success. When he inherits his father’s publishing business, Kit is forced back into the life he never wanted. Worse, he must face Ophelia Marsden, the woman he jilted but never forgot.

After losing her father and refusing a loveless marriage proposal, Ophelia has learned to rely on herself. To maintain the family home and support her younger brother, she tutors young girls in deportment and decorum. But her pupils would be scandalized if they knew their imminently proper teacher was also the author of a guidebook encouraging ladies to embrace their independence and overthrow outdated notions of etiquette like the Ruthven Rules.

As Kit rediscovers the life, and the woman, he left behind, Ophelia must choose between the practicality she never truly believed in, or the love she’s never been able to extinguish.
**This Review was previously posted at Romantic Historical Reviews**

Kit and Phee were close friends and very nearly lovers before he left the country life for the siren call of London and the thrilling life of a playwright.  During those next four years apart, Kit and Phee both tried to convince themselves that they were not hurt by the decision and could move on, but when the death of Kit’s father brings him back home to settle the estate, the past doesn’t seem so much in the past between these two.  Can they get their feelings sorted out and make a go of it again or are they destined to remain apart?  

I very much enjoyed Rules for a Rogue and I credit most of that to the fact that the situations that unfolded within the story did not feel contrived, but were instead natural and believable.  I wasn’t required to suspend reality for one moment.  Kit leaves for the city because he doesn’t fit into his father’s strict rules at home and he wants the thrill of the stage in the great city of London, yet he leaves behind his heart as well.  His father’s death was due to a long-standing illness, not some sudden onset, and Kit returns home with the plan to just put his family back together then return to the city…that is, until he runs into Phee again.  Meanwhile, Phee has a secret; she has penned a guidebook for young ladies that pushes the envelope toward modernity and she doesn’t want her close-minded community to find out that she is the author.  Her secret and Kit’s family’s business dealings come together in a way that could bring them closer or set them farther apart and I liked how both Kit and Phee vacillated between the possible outcomes here. I felt that the right balance was struck here between a few light, comedic moments and the more serious elements that contributed to the believability of the story.  

I really enjoyed the characters in this novel.  Carlyle makes each one into a full figure – even the peripheral characters like Kit’s sisters, Phee’s sister and aunt, and both of their friends.  Very quickly each had a distinct personality that was anything but cookie-cutter.  While on the outset they might represent tropes (the hard-headed heroine, the rogue, the spinster friend, etc.) there are so many layers here that you have the ability to peel back as the story goes on to discover more complexities that previously thought.  Even the “villainous” character isn’t a representation of evil; rather in Carlyle’s hands he is more of a persistent prig that causes our couple hardship by getting in the way rather than intentionally wreaking havoc.  Additionally, I believed in the character’s motives.  Both Phee and Kit have been hurt and are trying to protect their hearts, but also make the hard decisions to do what is right by their families, and each other.  We also have just enough back-story to fill in the details of their relationship before Kit went to London to make the reader understand just what they gave up in that decision.

In continuing with the trend about believability in this story, the romantic element here was spot on.  The author did not need to spend ample time in the build up as these two had been nearly lovers in the past, but did need to give the readers something to connect with first.  It was sweet, but needed and didn’t feel all that scandalous despite how it would have been perceived by society.  

Often I don’t pay much attention to the quotes that can sometimes appear at the start of each chapter or section because they are too oblique for me to pick up on the reference while reading the chapter – not so here!  The majority of the chapters begin with either an excerpt from one of Ruthven’s Rules books or, alternatively, Miss Gilroy’s guidebook for young ladies.  These two books do play a significant role in the greater story arc and each rule or guideline directly connects to an action taken by either Kit or Phee in that chapter.  There was a clear purpose here an I appreciated it.   

Overall, I was very satisfied with this story as I just ate up the pages and was left wanting more.  

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