Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “You’re exactly who I thought you were.“
Lord Lukas Hawkins, the rakish second son of the House of Trent, has never found a wager he couldn’t win or a woman he couldn’t seduce—until his search for his missing mother leads him to a mysterious encounter with a beautiful stranger.
Luke’s mother has been missing for months, and while his honorable older brother Simon, Duke of Trent, leads the official investigation from London, Luke sets out on a somewhat seedier path. Sources have told him his mother was last seen with a scoundrel named Roger Morton, but their association isn’t clear. Was she kidnapped or did she go willingly?
While searching for Morton, Luke meets Emma Anderson, a secretive beauty with her own reasons for hunting Morton. At first Luke laughs at the idea of allowing a woman to join him in his search, but soon Emma’s insights into Morton—like the woman herself—prove impossible to resist. (Goodreads)
Some light spoilers if you haven’t read book one-The Duchess Hunt.
The Rogue’s Proposal is the second book in Haymore’s angst driven historical series-The House Of Trent. Focusing on the second son, Lord Lukas Hawkins, we learn the reason behind the demons that drive this man over and over to the edge of despair. Revealed as a temperamental rogue with appetites for all things depraved, Lukas has a deep dark secret that precipatates his actions.
Book one, The Duchess Hunt, revealed that Lukas was not the son of the former Duke of Trent. One of the many affairs that the Duchess of Trent had resulted in Lukas birth. The duke agreed to raise Lukas as his own though we eventully learn that all was not well in that situation. Lukas upbringing shaped him into the man he is today; coloring his relationships with his family and women in general. When he is approached by a woman who offers to help him search for his mother in return for his help apprehending the man who ruined her family, Lukas finds himself at an impasse. He wants Emma desperately in his bed but only on her terms. For the first time ever, he is putting someone before himself.
Emma Anderson is a gentile lady who learns that hard way that her marriage was a complete farce. A beautiful widow who now must have Lukas help in order to gain back her family fortune and restore the shine to their name. She is instantly attracted to Lukas but knows that romance has no place in their dealings. Her mission demands success. She doesn’t want to be a forgotten notch in his bedpost and realistically knows she has no place in the life of a Duke’s brother.
While I enjoyed The Rogue’s Proposal overall, it didn’t appeal to me as much as book one did. I found it more lightweight emotionally then book one and less defined. The plotlines are predictable with little tension or apprehension to offset the monotony. We spend a majority of the book following Lukas and Emma to Scotland, then back to London as they search for the mysterious Roger Morton who has been connected to the Duchess’s kidnapping.
The characters are well developed but I felt like I was missed something in their evolution. Lukas is constantly telling us just how bad he is but we don’t see it. He does nothing even remotely bad, evil, or even sexually deviant throughout the whole book. In fact, he’s very chivalrous to Emma and everyone around him. We are led to believe this is Emma’s influence but I didn’t see anything she did to warrant this supposed miraculous change in Lukas.
Emma is a good person. A saint. In fact, Lukas refers to her as “angel.” We are told she was quite the hoydon as a youngster. I saw faint evidence of this; though towards the end when the pace picks up, it is more evident. She isn’t argumentative or course in speech. She isn’t pushy or a know it all. She’s…perfect. We are told that she gains strength and self esteem but having never seen her before, I have no idea is this is really true. She has some inner misgivings concerning Lukas but slips rather easily into his bed and his sexual games. Not many apprehensive or second thoughts. That I found hard to believe. Even if she was predestined to enjoy, I would have expected a young woman to have some qualms about bondage. Her navite is glaringly apparent here.
The romance is sweet, sexy, and rather uncomplicated. Any misunderstandings cleared up fast. Emma shows us the supposed strength she’s gained in here which goes far in convincing Lukas she loves him regardless of how the world sees him. Steamy love scenes made for more enjoyable reading and I liked that Haymore is a bit more visual in this aspect.
The reveal behind Lukas demons is a sad but age old story. I liked how Emma helped Lukas heal. It’s a poignant storyline in it’s lack of emotion. Lukas deems he was deserving and that brought a few tears to my eyes. I will admit I found it hard to believe no one knew, though. I can’t fathom that no staff or god forbid, his mother didn’t have a clue. Servants knew EVERYTHING back then. I’m wondering if this will be addressed later in the book.
I think my overall problem with this installment is we are told more than we are shown and there is a lack of humor and lighthearted moments. The conflict is staid and everything is laid out matter of fact and in perfect order. As I stated earlier, there is no real sense of adventure in here. No stimulating intrigue or suspense. No standing on the precipice, quivering in anticipation wondering what will happen. We never at any time doubt what will happen.
For me, the story really picks up in the last 25%. More action is introduced as we get a few sparse clues to the Duchess’s kidnapping, which leads me to believe this will not be solved until the last book, and Emma’s situation. Though, in Emma’s situation, we really do not learn any of the ‘whys’ involved which confounded me. It was a rather intriguing storyline but we are left to our own devices in trying to understand the villain’s reasons.
The ending is justified though anti climatic as we knew what would happen from the beginning and nothing much is left to the imagination or chance.