I LOVED A ROGUE – Katharine Ashe
The Prince Snatchers , Book 3 of 3
England, February 1819
Thirteen years ago, a ship was lost near the coast of Cornwall with no survivors save three little girls: Eleanor, Arabella, and Ravenna. Only Eleanor, the oldest at four, has memories from before, hazy that they may be. She recalls her mother giving them a gold and ruby ring before she sent them aboard ship with their governess. They managed to keep the ring safe all through their four years in a cruel foundling home before they were adopted by the kindly Reverend Caulfield, Vicar of St. Petroc. He educated the girls as young ladies, with Eleanor proving to be the intellectual one, though she suffered with weak lungs for years.
The Vicar allowed a group of Gypsies to camp on his land part of every year and took an interest in a young man of the tribe, Taliesin Wolfe, giving him work on the land, the barn to sleep in, and taught him along with Eleanor. Eleanor greatly resented Tali; she was afraid he would steal Papa's affection from her and strove mightily to out do him in learning. But eventually, she was tired of being the pampered invalid and asked Tali to secretly teach her to ride a horse…which he did. Theirs was a fierce rivalry, but as they grew, so did a strong attraction that led Tali to leave and not come back for eleven years.
By this time, Arabella and Ravenna had each made an attempt to marry a prince and show him the ring; that was supposed to be how they would learn their real identities—who their family was—all according to an old soothsayer's prophecy. Well, that didn't work out, but they did marry well and find happiness. Now the vicar is marrying as well, and that means Eleanor is no longer critical to his comfort; what is she to do now? Well, Arabella has the answer; Eleanor must take her turn to find a prince, and who better to escort her to Cornwall to begin the search than their almost-brother Taliesin…along with Arabella's coachman and maid.
For the sake of honesty, I admit to liking the first two books, I MARRIED THE DUKE and I ADORED A LORD, better than I LOVED A ROGUE, at least for the first half of the story. Eleanor and Taliesin are meant to be—remember that strong attraction?—but Tali believes Ellie deserves better, even though he has become a successful horse trader. Add that to the hurt Ellie suffered when he left without a good-bye. There is a lot of angst and misunderstandings between them along with those frustrating strong desires that go on a long time. Eventually, however, the action picks up with new characters—is there a prince?—being introduced and many surprising secrets bared and puzzles solved. Besides that, all the threads left hanging in books one and two are tied up, nicely rewarding my perseverance and putting a satisfying ending to a worthy series.