The Right Kind of Rogue by Valerie Bowman
Series: The Playful Brides, #8
Released: October 31, 2017
St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Reviewed by Sheena
“Are you seriously ordering another drink?”
“Are you seriously surprised?
Valerie Bowman’s Playful Brides series is one of my absolute favorites. I love how funny and delightful they are. The plots are never overwrought and even eight books in, the series continues to be interesting, fun, full of steamy romance, never boring, and always exciting!
Meg is in a bind. She is one of the ton yet among the lowest rung thanks to her irresponsible father and his incessant gambling. He’s squandered the family fortune, and though titled, Meg and her family are practically paupers and have a toxic marriage to boot. It is a miracle Meg has grown to be as kind and pure of heart as she is given how vile her parents are to one another and to poor Meg herself. The bright spots in her life, her best friendship with Sarah and her long-harbored love for her best friend’s brother, Hart.
Now, I usually hate “In love with brother/sister’s bff” trope but it works so well in this novel. The objections that Sarah had to Meg setting her affections on Hart were reasonable and realistic and once she saw the love blossom between her brother and best friend, there was no awkward ranting or misplaced jealousies. Sarah was a wonderful friend to Meg, lending her the support she needed because boy, was her brother a piece of work!
Hart was everything a young woman of the ton seeking a husband would want. Titled, rich, handsome and responsible. Unlucky for the ladies on the marriage mart- Hart is a rogue! Turned off from matchmaking after an embarrassing debacle seasons ago, he is more than content to spend his time in gentleman’s clubs and finding his pleasures with mature unattached women who know the score. Everything changes when Meg’s father’s gambling debts lands the family flat broke and in dire straits. Encouraged by her friends, Meg decides the time has come to seek a husband and the only man she wants is Hart. Unfortunately, he is also the one man her parents would never approve of due to a long-lived tawdry family feud and scandal. Luckily for Meg, she has the backing of the Duchess of Clarington, Lucy Hunt (From book one’s The Unexpected Duchess!!! We LOVE Lucy!!!!) who is set out to help dear Meg land the man of her dreams, even if it means a little scheming and romantic plots!
I had such a good time reading this novel. I’ve read every novel in this series so this one was very dear to my heart, I so enjoyed the appearances by all of the prior heroines. Even though previous romances and characters are heavily referenced in the novel, there is enough context provided that it can be read as a first novel in the series. I can all but guarantee that it will send you running to your bookstore or apps to dive into the previous books. The world is so light and character driven. As I mentioned the plot is head on without any significant twists, but that doesn’t mean the novel is without layers. Just when you think the HEA is upon you, you glance down and see, holy cow, you are only 46% through, this novel sprinted, then slowed to a trot. And I loved it. Each chapter flew by, clever Bowman, made me gasp, shriek and exclaim at the end of every chapter. I could not believe things were unfolding as they were, it was a frenzy and then like Meg and Hart, I had space to look around and see what I had (they had) gotten myself (themselves) into and it wasn’t pretty. It was a glorious and spectacular mess and I loved every angsty moment!
Few things set me to giggling more than well crafted historical romance dialogue- specifically lovers trading barbs and clever heroines getting one over a haughty Duke or Earl. The Right Kind of Rogue made me laugh. Out loud. For real, and not in the phony way people tend to use to exaggerate. I’m talking in the real, from the belly, up the throat and out my nose, mouth, and ears laughter.
Meg and Hart were a unique pair. At times he came across as less mature than I like my heroes, but he more than made up for this with his unwavering support of Meg in the face of her decrepit parents.
“Your husband stopped touching you years ago. His affairs are as legendary as his gambling debts.”
“I wouldn’t allow him to touch me,” the baroness spat.
“Yes, well, it’s not Meg’s fault she wasn’t born a son and it certainly wasn’t her fault that you two had no more children…I’ve personally heard you say horrible things to Meg. If I hear anything like it again, I’ll take back every pound.”
“You can’t do that.” The baroness scrunched up her nose in a sneer. “You people with money make me ill. You think you can buy anything.”
Hart pulled his hat from a nearby table. “If my money buys your decency to my wife, then I don’t give a bloody damn if it makes you ill in the process.” He placed his hat on his head and walked out the door.
Valerie Bowman wrote a delightful romance that felt like two HEAs in one. It was an emotional roller-coaster. There were times I wanted to throttle Hart for his obtuse antics and getting in his own way. So much of their troubles would have been resolved by communication, but of course what’s the fun in that! My sole concern that burrowed its way deep and didn’t quite let me go, was buying the true love declaration at the end. I relished (and I’m skirting dangerously around a spoiler here) we got to see what a shot-gun (replace pregnancy with scandal) marriage looked like from the inside out. I often wanted Meg and Hart to really discuss their plight and not just have hot sex (though make no mistake, I’m super glad they had hot sex). And ultimately I was pleased that they emerged from their hardship on one accord, more equals than not.
I (still!) can not say enough good things about this series. Each book in the series is a vastly different kind of woman with her own spark and wit. I am already salivating for book nine, A Duke Like No Other, that promises second chance love for an estranged husband and wife. Oh yes.