The reissue of Jo Beverly’s earlier works is a fine idea. With the sweeping popularity of Regency romance, the audience is ready and willing to continue to purchase quality novels from the genre. These early works fit the bill quite nicely. I have enjoyed my visit with the Company of Rogues immensely and hope that many other readers will join me.
Forbidden, the third book in the series, gives us the story of Francis Haile, Lord Middlethorpe. He has estranged himself from the Rogues because he was afraid that he was becoming too attached to the his friend’s wife. Being a man of honor, Francis felt this was a breach of trust, albeit an innocent one. Because of this situation, he has finally realized that it is time to take his own wife, and has picked out a likely candidate. With impeccable lineage, a handsome dowry and a sweet nature, Lady Anne Peckworth should have no difficulty in managing his household, warming his bed and placating his mother.
When his mother confides that she is a victim of a blackmail scheme, Francis puts off his proposal to track down the extortionist. Fate intervenes in his search, in the form of Serena Riverton, widow of one of the ton’s must notorious members. Serena thought she would be able to live in quiet comfort on the meager funds left after her husband’s death. She is horrified to discover that not only have her brothers gambled it away, but that they are planning to sell her in marriage to the highest bidder! Since none of the suitors are gentlemen by any stretch of imagination, Serena gathers her courage and a few coins and flees into the countryside.
Ms. Beverly deftly weaves together the various threads of plot with skill and flair. She offers the reader a range of themes, from the virtue of Lord Middlethorpe, Serena’s troubles with self-esteem and the pressures of beauty, to the comedy of errors surrounding the blackmailed Lady Middlethorpe. Toss the Rogues and their wives into the mix and you have a witty, yet tender romance that will enchant and delight any fan of the genre. To those of you who have not yet tried Jo Beverly, Forbidden is a fine way to meet another “keeper” author for your bookshelves.