THE ROGUE NOT TAKEN – Sarah MacLean
London – 1833
Lady Sophie Talbot, one of the infamous Talbot sisters (but the one who has avoided scandal so far), has really done it. When she discovers her pompous brother-in-law in the middle of an embrace with someone other than her sister, Sophie cannot help herself. She pushes that adulterous swine right into the koi pond at the last ton ball of the 1833 season. The scandal she creates is immediate, especially because her brother-in-law is a highly regarded duke, and the Talbot sisters are certainly wealthy, but their father's money comes from coal, after all, so they are hardly aristocratic even if their father is titled.
Sophie decides to make a quick getaway from the soiree, especially since she and her sisters are immediately given the cold shoulder. Sophie's mother is appalled, of course, and tries to repair the damage as the ball continues but Sophie cannot bear to stay—she is ruined now so why not leave? As she is leaving, she runs into another scandal in the making. When a boot almost hits her on the head, followed by the man to whom the boot belongs, Sophie realizes she is staring at none other than Kingscote, Marquess of Eversley, nicknamed the Royal Rogue. Apparently, he is leaving an assignation, having been discovered in a precarious position. Sophie hates the man on sight and even more so when she begs him to give her a ride to her house in his carriage and he refuses, not wanting to be associated with Sophie, one of the “Dangerous Daughters.”
No matter. After the Marquess leaves, without his boot, Sophie finds her way to the carriages and makes a snap decision to find her way home. She trades places with a footman in the Marquess's carriage, dresses in the boy's clothing. Off she goes, thinking that the carriage will take her closer to Mayfair, her home. Unfortunately, that turns out not to be the case, and Sophie must keep up her pretense for a good while longer. When King sees his page, it does not take him long to realize that he is really Sophie. His intent is to leave her to find her way home, but fate seems to intercede, and the two embark on quite an adventure. An adventure that seems to bring Sophie into King's life no matter how hard he tries to be rid of her.
THE ROGUE NOT TAKEN is the first of Sarah MacLean's Scandal and Scoundrel series, and it is action packed. I am a fan of Ms. MacLean's work, and have always enjoyed her books for the excellently developed hero and heroine, the well- crafted plot development, the witty dialogue, the supporting characters, and the most satisfying happy ending. This novel has all of these elements and then some. What I like about Sophie and King is their intelligence and humor, and most especially their depth. They are well developed, with conflicted pasts that explain their present actions and their dreams of the future. They come from less than perfect homes, filled with supporting characters that are equally interesting (if not more so, in some cases) that provide additional entertainment to the reader. So, a little bit more about the action. This romance is full of non-stop adventure, from wild carriage rides, to highway robbery, to shootings, and everything in between. And somehow, Ms. MacLean still manages to infuse just the right amount of romance (and I so appreciate that it is not exactly love at first sight).
Pick up THE ROGUE NOT TAKEN if you are ready to be thoroughly entertained by a romance that is sweet and dramatic, smart and complicated, and so very much fun!