by Barbara Dawson Smith

Septemeber 2000
ISBN: 0-312-97511-2
Reviewer Graphic Button St. Martin`s Press
Mass Market Paperback

Eighteen-year-old Vivien Thorne had just been in the middle of convincing her parents that she has chosen a proper husband when three elderly aristocratic ladies strolled to their gypsy camp asking for her father. It seems that Vivien had been borne of a governess who used to work for Lucy, Lady Stokeford, who is one of the elderly ladies who have come to take her away from her gypsy parents and "raise" her as a gentle lady of the ton.

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Okay, that was only the first fifteen pages and already it was beginning to sound a bit contrivedů and a bit is an understatement.

Vivien is independent, witty as well as beautiful - sometimes it's hard to believe that she is only eighteen. Michael Kenyon, the Marquess of Stokeford and the grandson of Lady Stokeford, is in lust at first sight. As soon as he spies her reading his grandmother's palm for entertainment, he warred with his attraction to Vivien and his suspicion that she was out to rob his grandmother. Immediately Michael suspects the worst and drags Vivien out of the room to threaten, intimidate, bribe and seduce her into leaving his grandmother alone. Michael is a tragic hero who is constantly in lust and does not shy away from making such improper advances to Vivien. Vivien, to her credit, successfully spurns him time and again, determined to hold on to her virtue even when she is supposed to practice her womanly wiles on him. (Huh?) Of course, she finally succumbs when he reveals his innermost tragic secret. More like a romantic version of sympathy sex.

The plot, along with the characters, is obvious but the romance between Vivien and Michael makes up for it. Although almost every scene is unbelievably contrived (alright, I understand that it is fiction therefore manufactured, but one must give credit to readers; a good fiction is supposed to make you forget that it isn't real - at least, not when you're reading it!), Ms. Smith excels at depicting sexual tension between the two main characters. Ms. Smith also constructs characters extremely well - they are constant and, at times, interesting and entertaining. Some are a bit misleading and gratuitous though - i.e., Charlotte and the evil Duchess of Covington are but a couple of examples of characters that do nothing but help make the story even more unnatural.

All in all, Romancing The Rogue can be entertaining enough - the romance and sexual tension can let one forget that there is more to a good romance than enjoyable sex scenes.

Reviewed in December 2001 by Veronica.

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