Every now and then you find a book series that blows your freakin’ mind. As a historical romance lover (with a focus on Regency and Victorian) I always am looking for bodice rippers with a modern feminist twist.
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I ADORED Evie Dunmore’s debut novel Bringing Down the Duke. It was my favorite read about 2019. Her A League of Extraordinary Women series is about a group of suffragist BFFs in England during the Victorian era finding love. I was so excited to hear about A Rogue of One’s Own, which publishes on September 1. Lucie is my favorite of the four best friends and I needed to see her love story! This read was excellent and even more than I hoped for!
The summary, from Amazon:
A lady must have money and an army of her own if she is to win a revolution—but first, she must pit her wits against the wiles of an irresistible rogue bent on wrecking her plans…and her heart.
Lady Lucie is fuming. She and her band of Oxford suffragists have finally scraped together enough capital to control one of London’s major publishing houses, with one purpose: to use it in a coup against Parliament. But who could have predicted that the one person standing between her and success is her old nemesis and London’s undisputed lord of sin, Lord Ballentine? Or that he would be willing to hand over the reins for an outrageous price—a night in her bed.
Lucie tempts Tristan like no other woman, burning him up with her fierceness and determination every time they clash. But as their battle of wills and words fans the flames of long-smoldering devotion, the silver-tongued seducer runs the risk of becoming caught in his own snare.
As Lucie tries to out-maneuver Tristan in the boardroom and the bedchamber, she soon discovers there’s truth in what the poets say: all is fair in love and war…
(And don’t forget to check out Book 1 in the series, too.)
Lucie is the daughter of an earl, but she is estranged from her family and has been for years. She has always been a suffragist, and insulted her father in front of his peers, causing her to be practically disowned. She’s nearing thirty, and has lived in Oxford, working with the suffragist chapter there, for some time. Tristan’s mother is Lucie’s friend, and they were acquaintances growing up. Tristan always had a crush on Lucie, but he showed her in a really awful way – by playing pranks on her during their youth. Lucie always hated him as a result, and doesn’t like him much as an adult, either. The gossip rags make Tristan out to be a playboy (even more so than he really is) and she doesn’t like the way she believes he treats women.
Lucie is dead set on never getting married. In fact, her team is working on convincing members of parliament not to pass an act that solidifies a wife’s property becoming her husband’s upon marriage. While her other friends aren’t against marriage, Lucie sees it for the legal trap that it was in those days. Meanwhile, she knows nothing of Tristan’s situation. His mother is caught in that trap, and he is too, in a way. Though he’s a man and able to pursue a career, I would argue that his father is financially abusing him as he abuses Tristan’s mother. Tristan’s father is forcing his son to marry within three months, or he’ll cut Tristan off and put his mentally ill mother in an asylum.
Because he’s trying to form some semblance of independence, Tristan is living in Oxford on his own. He borrows money to buy a publishing house to ensure some income. It so happens that Lucie and her team has purchased shares in the same house, with the intention of publishing their feminist findings in women’s magazines. Tristan has his own reasons to dissuade their methods. It’s clear to the reader that he has every reason to be on the same page, but he knows they won’t make a profit if they do this. Lucie needs Tristan to sell her some shares so she has majority ownership. On a rather sexually charged whim, Tristan offers them to her if she’ll sleep with him for one night.
Lucie doesn’t give in right away, but eventually she does, and one night turns into many. It’s a slow burn until we get to the steamy scenes, but there are many, and they are all lovely. This couple has so much passion and energy between them – rivalry, friendship, hate, love, lust, history, business. There are some serious fireworks.
I know I just wrote FOUR PARAGRAPHS about the plot, but I guarantee that’s not even half of it. I’m keeping the spoilers at bay. This was just such a gorgeous read. In addition to the awesome romance and explosive erotica, there’s this fabulously feminist main plot, beautiful portrayals of friendships between women, and cameos from historical figures. I also must note that our hero is queer, which I don’t see a lot of in man/woman romances. I really loved the representation. Tristan is totally my latest book boyfriend.
As with most romance series, you don’t have to read Book 1 to understand the story of Rogue – but I highly recommend it, because Bringing Down the Duke is a delight.
My thanks to the author (you must follow Evie Dunmore on Twitter – she’s great AND FOLLOWS ME BACK 😭), publisher, and NetGalley for hooking me up with a copy in exchange for my honest review. This was a 5 star read for me!
EDIT: I do want to share that I’ve seen some criticisms since finishing this novel, noting that a villain in this is a gay character who was spurned by another character romantically, and how this trope is problematic. I definitely can see that, though it didn’t occur to me during reading. I’m still on the fence about how I feel regarding this, as a lot of the arguments on Twitter I’ve seen surrounding this basically have argued the bisexual character isn’t “bi enough” anyway which is just fucking gross. 😕 I think this was more of a jealousy trope, in this situation, than homophobia. I also want to note this is not the main villain. But knowing the problematic history of this plot device, it would have been best to skip it altogether. If this is content that would upset you, you may want to avoid this book.
My most anticipated read of 2020, this was everything I wanted and more. Lucie and Tristan are both exceptional characters who undergo major development. This is a bit of a slow burn with some explosive erotic romance in the second half of the book. I loved the cameos from historical figures and LGBTQ+ representation. 💜 I normally write my full blog post right away, but I need some time to absorb how lovely this one was.
P.S. I like to read my romances and prefer nonfiction audiobooks, but different strokes for different folks, right? I love Audible, and if you like audiobooks and romance, I suggest you try the Audible Romance Free Trial. Get unlimited listening free for one month. Who doesn’t like free?