Monday, November 2, 2020

Review: Love is a Rogue by Lenora Bell

Love is a Rogue by Lenora Bell
Series: Wallflowers vs. Rogues, Book 1
Publisher: Avon
Genre: Historical Romance 
Love is a Rogue cover
ISBN: 9780062993458
Source: Publisher
Buy it here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | Audible

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.

A bookish wallflower meets her match in a rogue who’s good with his hands in Love is a Rogue. I loved the premise of Lenora Bell’s Wallflowers vs. Rogues series but the execution in this first novel fell a bit flat for me.

All Lady Beatrice Bentley wants to do is retire to her brother’s estate in Cornwall and work on her etymological dictionary. She’s a determined spinster, but finds herself drawn to carpenter Stamford Wright who is disturbing her peace as he works on her brother’s home. Ford shakes her composure, but Beatrice expects she will never see him again once she’s swept up into the London season – and her mother’s machinations to marry her off. However, fate has other plans for them and Ford once again enters her life. They become entangled when Beatrice inherits a bookshop that’s in desperate need of renovation. She wants to turn it into a clubhouse for her “knitting club” (a secret society of feminists working to support each other’s dreams and goals) and Ford is the only man for the job. They’re from two different worlds and Ford has seen firsthand what happens to a woman who marries someone of a different class. Both know nothing can come of their attraction, yet neither can resist the other. Thus, they follow a fairly predictable route as they fall in love. There’s nothing wrong with a good formula but it felt like the emotion required to make it compelling was missing. All the elements were there for a solid love story, yet I felt like I was floating on the surface of a good romance the whole time, never going deeper, which was a disappointment.

There’s a lot to unpack in this book and all of it has potential. The push-pull between duty and desire, characters coming into their own, an inheritance with a secret attached to it, a villainous opponent, secret relations, naughty texts, a revolutionary group of women, and more, but it all feels very surface level. Plot points dragged on, became important, then inexplicably fizzled. There are many points in Love is a Rogue where Beatrice stops and talks about being a bibliophile, and even more where she and her friends point out the sexism in society. I wanted to love the book because of this but the sentiments (ones I wholeheartedly agreed with) rang hollow. Love is a Rogue isn’t a bad book but I struggled with it because it never succeeded in drawing me in and thus the book dragged. However, I seem to be in the minority at this time so perhaps this is simply a case of a book and a reader not being a good match.

FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.