Regency RO-mance Review: Reforming the Rogue by Donna Simpson

I received this novella as a download from Netgalley.

The Pelham sisters: Though of respectable — but undistinguished birth, the Pelham family finances (or lack thereof) force sisters Jessica and Linnet to earn their own keep. Jessica, the elder, with her lovely face and form — and a natural flair for the dramatic — finds her work in the theater before becoming the Earl of Cairngrove’s long-time mistress.

The Barton Brothers: Cedric, Earl of Cairngrove plans to marry his beloved mistress, Jessica. They have been deeply in love for years and he wishes to have her by his side as his countess, whatever society may think! His younger brother, Dominic (Nic) is appalled by Cedric’s proposed marriage and decides to do anything and everything he can to put an end to his brother’s shocking engagement and rescue Cedric from this dreadful woman’s greedy toils.

Nic decides to pay a call on the scheming wench in an attempt “persuade” (bribe, blackmail, threaten, and/or seduce) Jessica to call off her engagement to his brother — and mistakenly encounters Linnet instead. Jessica’s younger sister Linnet, having recently lost her teaching position, has taken refuge in her sister’s home and is deeply concerned for her suddenly frail, sorrowful, reluctant-to-wed sister. Linnet wastes no time giving Nic a piece of her mind when he comes to the door with his contemptible offer. The usual confusion-of-identities and white-hot sparks of attraction ensue.

Nic continues his plans to disrupt his brother’s engagement, but is necessarily in frequent close company with the beguiling, bewildering Linnet. As he comes to know Linnet and her sister, Nic discovers just how wrong he was — and how much he longs to make Linnet his own.

I have a weakness for Regencies, I will admit. I love the language, the banter, the often lighthearted twists and turns of the story, and, of course, the happy ending! I find them relaxing and fun to read in times of stress. Of course, not all Regencies are the same — traditional Regencies tend to be entirely love-scene free: if sex takes place (after a proper wedding ceremony), it is off-stage and not graphically described. A traditional Regency’s passionate moment involves an exchange of glances or a touch on the arm, possibly a kiss. Others — what I call the “Romance (RO-mance)” Regencies and my mom calls “bodice rippers” — are more typically Romance-y in content: graphic sex scenes and plenty of passionate moments of all description. Not so strangely, the “Romance” Regencies also tend to have more melodrama, less adherence to the strict protocols of the Regency era, and more extreme characters — though certainly not always. I enjoy both “styles” of Regency, and my preference is usually dependent on my mood, although, as in all books, some are FAR better than others!

Reforming the Rogue falls more in the Romance Regency category, it’s focus being very sensual and sexually graphic. It’s a fairly typical reform-the-rake tale, and well-told. I enjoyed the story, although I can’t say I’ll ever be motivated to seek it out and read it again. Although he turned out to be quite decent and heroic in the end, Nic started out as SUCH an alpha-hole that I almost put the book aside and moved on to something else entirely. Nic was such a complete jerk (substitute your favorite four-letter word) and so unappealing as a character that I found myself too irritated to care what became of him.

What little I learned of Cedric was likable, and I enjoyed Linnet’s practical, forthright ways — though, really, Nic was so obnoxious in that first meeting, I can’t imagine ANYONE being attracted to him IN ANY WAY. No matter how handsome, charming, or silver-tongued, a complete jack*** is not attractive. But I digress…again. Jessica was an interesting foil for Linnet with all her dramatic sighs and heart-burnings, and her worries and fears are (some of them) quite reasonable and understandable. Her emotional toils and the complications of her shocking engagement are rather patently the excuse for Nic and Linnet’s introduction and subsequent relationship, but the engagement plot line is not intrusive or confusing, and it is ultimately sorted out in the hero and heroine’s happily ever after.

Once again, this is much longer than I intended! It was a good novella, but nothing special.

This novella was originally published under the title “Love Lessons.”

Reforming the Rogue (e-book) by Donna Simpson
Reforming the Rogue (e-book) by Donna Simpson

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