ONCE MORE, MY DARLING ROGUE – Lorraine Heath
The Scandalous Gentlemen of St. James , Book 2
Victorian London, 1874
Drake Darling, the manager of an exclusive gentleman's club, came from a terrible background. As a young boy, he was saved and brought up by the Duke and Duchess of Greystone. They welcomed him into their family and treated him as one of their own. Because of them, Drake has made friends among many of Society. One person, however, delights in trying to humiliate him. She's Lady Sophia Lyttleton. They both recently attended a ball given in honor of the duke's daughter's marriage—she's a friend of Sophia's—to the Duke of Lovingdon, who is a good friend of Drake's. Sophia was her usual haughty self calling him “boy” and ordering him to fetch her some champagne. Drake got some of his own back, however, by getting her into a secluded corner and stealing a kiss.
Later that night—early morning actually—Drake walks along the river and comes across a body washed ashore. The body is cold and muddy but alive…and it's Lady Sophia! Drake wraps her in his coat and takes her to his house where he undresses her and puts her in his bed. He knows she will have plenty to say when she wakes up. But in that, he's wrong. She doesn't recognize him and has no memory of the past. Drake decides to have a little revenge for all her attempts to embarrass him. When she rouses, he tells her she is Phee, his housekeeper. He plans to reveal all in a day or so and then and take her home to her brother. But then he has second thoughts. He wonders how she ended up in the river and if she might be in danger. As the charade goes on, her memory doesn't return, though she feels out of place in her role as housekeeper. She has some memories not of a personal nature, but nothing of cleaning or cooking. As Drake watches her try to learn, he sees a totally different side of Sophia. Drake is not the only one with secrets that have made them the people they have become. You'll like Drake almost immediately; he's an honorable man who has overcome a great deal. It will take longer to like Sophia, but I won't spoil the surprises.
As fascinating as the give and take between Drake and Phee is, there is much more to the plot and many more interesting characters, some from the earlier five book series, Scoundrels of St. James and the first in this series , WHEN THE DUKE WAS WICKED. You needn't have read them to enjoy ONCE MORE, MY DARLING ROGUE, for the story is complete, but I can recommend them all as highly enjoyable.