I love Kerrigan Byrne and her style of dark historical romance. This book was just as enjoyable, but it has a slightly different tone from the other books in this series. What starts as almost a typical Scot alpha-hero romance, ends up being much more.
After going through a particularly harrowing experience in America (I won’t spoil it for you), Samantha goes to Scotland to start over completely. The manor she has moved into is coveted by the one man she promised to protect it from.
I was surprised with the beginning in America and thought the American heroine was a refreshing take. She is delightfully spunky. Gavin is pretty much your typical dark, brooding Scot, but he does have a bit more going on upstairs than many of them do. The dark opening of his childhood set me up perfectly for Byrne’s style, but it took awhile for the book to get back around to the repercussions of that scene. I was initially afraid in the first third to half of the book (after the openings) that it was falling into a more “normal” rhythm of a historical romance. I felt like I had read it before. And then, everything changed and the danger ramped up and it became everything I hoped for from Kerrigan. She ties in some things I didn’t expect and brings it to a different level.
The Bottom Line-
Honestly, if someone were dipping their toe in to Byrne’s writing for the first time because they weren’t sure they wanted to start with her darker or crazier books, (which I absolutely love) I feel like this would be an excellent choice. Don’t get me wrong: her fans will still be happy as clams. I just feel like this book will win her some new fans based on the cover, title, and plot. Oh, and by the way, I am sooooo excited for the next book. We get to meet the hero in this book, and just swoon… Definitely one of my fave historical romances of the year. 5 stars
“Rules for a Rogue” is the first book in Christy Carlyle’s Romancing the Rules series, and I have to say that it was the cover that got me to read this one. That blue dress reminded me of Scarlet’s portrait in Gone with the Wind, and the setting looked like somewhere I wanted to be. So pretty! Imagine how excited I was to find out that this book is not Regency (although I do love some Regency, I love historicals that depart from that particular time period) AND the main couple take part in my two main passions in life: theatre and books.
Kit is a playwright/actor who is forced to take responsibility for his family’s interests due to his father’s death. This new responsibility brings him home where he faces a former sweetheart that has never been far from his mind: Ophelia. Ophelia, or “Phee” as her friends call her, teaches young ladies the ways of society while secretly authoring a book which brings all that into question. She must support her family, though, and those pressures are leading her to consider a proposal from a rich neighbor for which she feels nothing.
This story unfolded a little slowly for me, but the slow build did allow for the character’s emotional connection to feel more real than it sometimes does. I wish I knew more about why it didn’t work out for them in the past; it makes no sense that he would have left her. Also, what prompted Phee to write the book, and how did she go about getting it published? What are Kit’s plays about? These things niggle at my mind. I was so glad to read something in the Victorian time period and thought the author could have done even more with that. I was never bored while reading, but felt like the book was full of “almosts”. There was almost a really sexy scene; there was almost a real revelation about how he held onto her all those years, and there are more examples.
Both Ophelia and Kit are great characters that you really root for. The subplot about her book was particularly interesting to me, and I loved the openings of each chapter. Some of the secondary characters grew in interest to me toward the end of the book, and I look forward to seeing who she writes about next.
The Bottom Line
This is a pleasant historical with a great “second chance” trope for two enjoyable and well-developed characters. It is nice to visit a different time period, and I will definitely be looking forward to the other books in the series. 4 stars