This fun historical romance is my first read from Lenora Bell, but it won’t be my last!
Book: Love is a Rogue by Lenora Bell
Publication date: 27th October 2020
Ownership: E-ARC sent free of charge via NetGalley. All opinions my own.
Once upon a time in Mayfair, a group of wallflowers formed a secret society with goals that had absolutely nothing to do with matrimony. Their most troublesome obstacle? Rogues!
They call her Beastly Beatrice.
Wallflower Lady Beatrice Bentley longs to remain in the wilds of Cornwall to complete her etymological dictionary. Too bad her brother’s Gothic mansion is under renovation. How can she work with an annoyingly arrogant and too-handsome rogue swinging a hammer nearby?
Rogue. Scoundrel. Call him anything you like as long as you pay him.
Navy man Stamford Wright is leaving England soon, and renovating Thornhill House is just a job. It’s not about the duke’s bookish sister or her fiery copper hair. Or the etymology lessons the prim-yet-alluring lady insists on giving him. Or the forbidden things he’d love to teach her.
They say never mix business with pleasure. But when Beatrice and Ford aren’t arguing, they’re kissing.
Sometimes, temptation proves too strong to resist…even if the cost is a heart.
Love is a Rogue is the first book in a new series, Wallflowers vs Rogues; though it has ties to Bell’s previous series, School for Dukes, I hadn’t read anything by her before, and didn’t find myself lost. This is the perfect kind of book to read when your brain just needs something fun and enjoyable. you’re aware it’s tongue in cheek. The Mayfair Ladies Knitting League, a group of bluestockings and businesswomen who do anything but knit, is full of the classic anachronistically feminist tropes of the genre, but Beatrice’s decision to manage her bookshop herself, and indeed almost all her interactions with Ford, are even more deeply on the fantasy side of things. For me, I can suspend my historical disbelief if I’m enjoying a book enough, and that was exactly the case here.
Both main characters are really enjoyable in their own rights, and they work well together. Beatrice is just my kind of heroine: a smart, independent woman whose scholarly pursuits are worth a lot to her. Her interest in etymology means her narration has a fun way with language; as a fellow word nerd I found this fun, though some may think there’s too many of her etymological interjections. I also like that she wears glasses, which I almost never see in historical romance! Ford is less of a rogue than the title implies; mainly, he’s an incorrigible flirt and super hot to go with it, which gives him a slightly unwarranted reputation. His blunt nature makes his chapters a lot of fun, and offers a fun counterpoint to Beatrice, who is so careful with her choice of words. There’s plenty of chemistry between the pair, right from the very first scene, and their conversations are just full of sparks.
This is very low on the angst and emotional drama scale, but I did enjoy the emotional arcs. Beatrice has been bullied horribly all her life because of the effects of a facial nerve palsy, which has caused one side of her face to droop. I loved watching her learn to come out of her shell and stand up to the acquaintances and family who have been so awful to her. Ford’s development is centred around his fraught relationship with his grandfather, which adds an interesting angle to his character. And of course, the difference in their classes is a source of some tension. All the threads are juggled lightly, so if you’re looking for intensity, this may not be the book for you, but if you’re after something fluffy and fun, this will be perfect.
Since reading this I’ve tracked down several other books by this author to read, so that should make it very clear just how much fun I had with this story. It’s delightfully lighthearted – four out of five cats!