I’m a big fan of Lara Temple’s capable heroines and rakish heroes, and her latest book serves up both in a fantastic Regency romance!
Book: A Match for the Rebellious Earl by Lara Temple
Read before: No
UK publication date: 1st Feb 2021
Ownership: E-ARC sent free of charge by the author. All opinions my own.
One of my favourite tropes in historical romance is the male lead who never expected to inherit his title, so when I realised that this book was going to be a take on that, I couldn’t wait to read it – and Kit Carrington is a fantastic example! The half-brother of the previous (late) earl, he’s always been seen as disreputable due to his mother’s less-than-spotless pedigree, and he’s done nothing to dissuade society or his family of this idea – he’s an adventurous sea captain and, rumour has it, more than a bit of a rake. Finally returning home to England, he’s forced to take up the reins of his family responsibilities, where he finds Genevieve Maitland, the sister of his late brother’s widow, has been filling that role extremely well. Genny is the granddaughter of a famous general Kit served under in his youth, and the two of them have history, but when she starts to try to manage Kit’s reappearance in London, they clash. But the animosity between them may be hiding their attraction to each other… This is the second book in the Return of the Rogues series, but you can definitely read it as a standalone without any confusion, which I did (though I will definitely be going back to read The Return of the Disappearing Duke, because the glimpses we got of those characters here are very tempting!).
Genny is a wonderful heroine, just the kind of smart, confident woman I really adore reading about. Her unconventional upbringing made her hugely capable, but with that goes a personality that needs to be in charge of things and make sure everyone’s doing everything in the most efficient and effective way. She feels like she needs to protect her recently bereaved sister and her sister’s mother-in-law, both rather meek people, from the forceful characters of the Carrington family, but in keeping their needs at the forefront of her mind, Genny has a tendency to put herself last. What she needs is someone who appreciates her efforts, but also gives her the space and ability to relax a little and look after herself – which Kit can do admirably! I loved him too – of course, a roguish hero is always good fun, but I liked that he was very self-aware. He knows that his disreputable reputation means no one looks for his sensitive side, and it’s clear that he’s yearning for acceptance from his family. The two of them are fundamentally very similar, which of course is going to lead to clashes as they try to gain the upper hand in situations, but all that means for the reader is lots of fabulously quick banter and frustration needing to be released!
It’s so great to have a hero who’s confident enough to accept a very strong woman as an equal. Though he teases her about her military ways, he’s the only person who takes her 100% seriously but also sees her softer side. This is one of the most actually romantic romances I’ve read, and it’s down to the total mutual respect between Kit and Genny – even when they’re at odds, they trust in the other’s competence. What I liked best of all is that their physical chemistry, while great, was almost secondary to the way their personalities meshed, and the ways they supported each other; the romance felt like it derived from them understanding each other’s personality completely (though of course, often subconsciously, since their journey to falling in love would be rather boring if all was harmonious!). Both Genny and Kit have a great understanding of tactics, but it’s wonderfully fun to see how their carefully laid plans fall apart in the face of something so nebulous as love. I just had a huge smile on my face reading this book!
This is a hugely entertaining romance that ticks all my boxes: great banter, a chaotic family, a strong heroine, a secretly soft hero, and a really solid emotional connection between the leads. I can’t wait to read more in this series. Five out of five cats!