I must say, I really love NetGalley! Ever since signing up, they have been sending me loads of interesting new books coming out. I’ve never been stuck, not having something to read. These days, I’m trying to be more critical and not just try to read everything they send me because I just don’t have the time anymore (I know, I know, luxury problem and all). But when St. Martin’s Press invited me to read The Rogue is Back in Town, I was immediately intrigued. I read it mid-December 2017 and it was published on January 2nd of this year. I’ve only now gotten around to reviewing it, since the holidays were a very busy time for me!
Anyway, this Anna Bennett novel is actually the third in her The Wayward Wallflowers series about three girls beyond their marriage years trying to carve out a life for themselves. They live with their older uncle after their parents died tragically. This is the third (and last) instalment where the youngest sister, Juliette, is getting ready for her future. Her older sisters are married, so she is the last one still living at home with their uncle. Years ago, she kissed a marquess at a party but right now, she’s put the thought of a love like her sisters’ out of her mind. But her quiet life is blown up when Sam arrives. Sam’s been sent here by his brother to evict Juliette and her uncle so he can sell the house. However, Juliette is convinced that they were gifted the house years ago and refuses to leave until she sees proof. So Sam writes his brother, asking for the deed so he can fulfil his task, mend fences with his brother and get on with his life. Sam hadn’t planned on this delay, so he decides to move in with Juliette and her uncle in the meantime (posing as her uncle’s assistant). They grow attracted to each other and Sam is desparate to find a way to help her and at the same time achieve his goal to get back in his brother’s good graces.
And then Juliette finds out that Sam is in fact her marquess’ brother. This marquess now claims to be in love with her and he wants her in his life. But he can’t marry her, since he needs someone with status and money to better his standing in society. So he doesn’t outright say it, but he wants her as his mistress. Since Juliette has grown very close to Sam in the meantime (even ending up naked in bed with each other), you would expect her to just say no? But no, she says that she needs to think about it. It’s never really explained why. And not being sure about her feelings towards Sam is no excuse to accepting to become a marquess’ mistress, it doesn’t fit her personality. Maybe she doesn’t want to upset the marquess because he can throw her and her uncle out? Still not a valid enough excuse! Especially since they can go to their sisters’ houses or just wait a little longer since she and Sam are getting close.
The story didn’t feel very real to me. Here are these three sisters that have been through a lot and come out on the other end, all quite sure of themselves and rather independent. A rake shows up, and Juliette almost immediately ends up in bed with him. But there is no chaperone whatsoever? For that time period, it’s a little ridiculous. Also, even the most independent women wouldn’t just sleep with someone since women were supposed to be virgins when they married. And then there’s the villain in the story: the marquess himself. He gets away with everything, that really annoyed me! Yes, they find the deed that proves that Juliette’s uncle does own the house, yes Juliette and Sam end up with their HEA, but the marquess isn’t punished at all. That was a bit of a letdown for me!
I did like the back and forth between Sam and Juliette. Set the story about 100 years later, and it is a lot more believable. An independent woman and a rakish man who’s trying to better himself. I also like it that once Sam and Juliette realise what the other means to them, they are quite honest with each other. In the beginning, things aren’t clear, but there is never a cliché misunderstanding that would have been solved by one conversation. And after, they talk to each other trying to figure out their situation, openly and honestly. Also, the blurb talks of a love triangle, but Juliette isn’t in love with the marquess, so it’s not really a triangle, which is also good that the author avoided this major romance cliché.
In conclusion? I liked Sam and Juliette’s relationship, just not in the time era that it was set. I like their dialogue and the relationship between Juliette and her sisters is really sweet. When you think about it, the story itself is rather silly: bad man wants to evict family to sell the house, sends good man to do so. Good man is having trouble evicting family so decides to give them some time. Family is sure that they own the house, they just can’t find the papers. Until they do, at the very last second. The end. But it does make for an entire romance book and I never felt like passages were dragging along. The tempo was there because of all the dialogue and internal discourse of both characters. If you’re into historical romance, don’t read this because the period really is off. If you aren’t specifically into history or just looking for a relaxing read, then go right on ahead!