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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Review: Captured by a Rogue Lord

Captured By a Rogue LordTitle: Captured by a Rogue Lord
Author: Katharine Ashe
Page Count: novel length (ebook review copy)
Publisher: Avon
Genre: historical romance
Copy for review obtained via NetGalley in anticipation of an honest review

50 words or less: Serena Carlyle is happy in her spinsterhood whose two goals in life are to help her younger half sister make a smart match and to protect the people on her family's estate from the pirates that pillage the shores.  She hopes her neighbor, Alex, Earl of Sevage, can help her with one of those goals.  See if you can guess which one...

Despite the fact that the cover of this book looks like a tragic advertisement for Vidal Sassoon, this was a thoroughly enjoyable story about finding a new beginning and about turning over a new leaf in order to find happiness.  There's plenty of swashbuckling (hello pirates) and plenty of swoonworthy moments as Serena and Alex have to overcome meddling stepparents and social pressure and piratical wrongdoing to finally be able to be together as a couple.  Captured by a Rogue Lord is a great way to spend a rainy afternoon.

Alex is living an interesting double life.  He spends half the year as a rake in London society, successfully avoiding pretty much all human entanglements, and the other half of the year as a seafaring Robin Hood, relieving douchebaggy members of the ton of their yachts and accompanying riches, to benefit the less fortunate.  He's very close to his twin, who suffered a debilitating war wound, and figures it's about time to give up the pirating in favor of becoming a married country lord and gentleman of leisure.  So, he agrees to marry a young girl of good family, who also happens to be Serena Carlyle's stepsister.

One thing leads to another and Alex finds himself in a highly compromising situation with Serena- luckily, nobody is there to see, so it appears that the secret is safe- until Serena figures out that the guy she was canoodling with is actually her incredibly innocent stepsister's intended.  Serena can't in good conscience let the marriage go forward, but doesn't really see any way to get around it.  Plus, she has bigger fish to fry- smugglers are pillaging the coast where she lives, and nobody is willing to do a thing about it.

Serena decides to seek out the help of Redstone, a mysterious swashbuckler operating in the seas where she lives; Alex sees this as an opportunity to be with Serena again without further muddying the waters between them.  These two are still attracted to each other, and Alex has decided that there's no way he can marry Serena's stepsister when the one he really wants to marry is Serena; an evil stepmother gets involved and for awhile, things look grim for these two.

The plotting here is tight and fun, and the drama is palpable- when things come to a head between the smugglers and the residents and it becomes clear the the smugglers have a rich and well-connected benefactor, the audience is working to put the puzzle together before the authorities arrive to cart Alex away.  A happily ever after isn't guaranteed; instead, Serena and Alex have to figure out their own feelings before they can work on being a couple.  Additionally, there's Alex's brother to consider- apparently he's been nursing quite a crush on Serena's stepsister, and she in return.  Will they act on their feelings or be content to wallow in misery?  Tune in to find out!

There are times when a good historical romance is the only thing that will satisfy my reading palette and Captured by a Rogue Lord was as good as I'd hoped it would be.  I enjoyed the characters, found the evil stepmother to be incredibly diabolical without being cliched, and found the smuggling aspect to add an element of danger to the story that made the conflict feel real and the feelings authentic- Serena is such a good person without being a Mary Sue, and as a reader I appreciate that.  I'll definitely be checking out other titles from this author in the future.

Overall Grade: A
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