Forever Your Rogue by Erin Langston
February 28, 2023
Review by Melanie
Have you ever read a book and it’s so good that every so often, you just have to set the book down and hold it tight to your chest because the words are so wonderful and glorious that you want to savor every last one? And then, when you finally finish the book, your heart almost aches from the beauty of the book and you just KNOW in your heart that you’ll never read another book quite as good? Well, if you’re looking for a book to give you these exact feelings, let me introduce you to the wonder and delight that is Forever Your Rogue by Erin Langston. While there is a novella about one of the side characters in this book, Forever Your Rogue is her full-length debut, and what a phenomenal debut it is.
So, here are some reasons why I loved this book and why you should pick it up:
Cora, the FMC: Lady Cora is capable and competent, she is a widowed mother of two, her late husband was an odious human being and she is not sitting around pretending her heart is breaking over his untimely demise. In the very first chapter of the book, she pens a letter that leaves no doubt as to her feelings about her late husband, Viscount Dane.
“My husband’s death was not exactly an unpleasant upheaval.
Indeed, in nearly all ways, my life has greatly improved since his passing. Moreover, I take comfort in knowing Dane was certainly happy in the end, given that he died doing what he loved – carousing with an opera dancer from Covent Garden. May we all be so fortunate.”
Cora, at risk of losing her children to her late husband’s sister due to the laws of the time (more on that later), devises a plan: she shall announce her betrothal to make it clear that she can provide a stable family life for her two young children. What could go wrong?!? And so, with that plan in mind, she picks her best friend’s older brother, Nathaniel Travers as her intended, a man who owes her for a long ago favor.
Nathaniel Travers, the MMC: heir presumptive to his older brother, the Earl of Fordham. I love a good rogue, a carefree, happy-go-lucky rake who knows how to get in and out of trouble and is always willing to be present for a good time, if not a long time. And watching Nate fall, not just for Cora but for her two young children, oh wow, a total punch right to my heart.
Nate knows he doesn’t deserve her but boy does he want to. He is lost at the beginning of this book, unsure of his place, his future, his path, and he finds all of that and more in Cora and her family. Some of my favorite scenes in this book involve Nate interacting with Cora’s children. Yes, a lot of these scenes are cute and adorable but they are also a beautiful and poignant commentary on fatherhood, especially from the viewpoint of a man whose own relationship with his older brother/father figure is contentious. Look, I could write an entire book about my love for Nate Travers. I won’t. But I could.
Are all men like their fathers?
Some men, it turned out, were like their sons.
The Romance: Is there anything better than seeing a rake reformed, on his knees (literally AND figuratively), completely undone by love? When Nate falls, he falls HARD. And Cora, burned by her first marriage, is understandably wary and scared. Nate’s speech towards the end of the book is one for the ages and will live rent-free in my head for a good long time. He loves her, he’s willing to fight for her, even when she’s all but given up hope, and he will do everything in his power to protect what’s his.
“I feel thunderstruck, every moment of the day, by how it happened. I don’t understand. But they’re mine. They’re my family. They were always meant to be.”
He swallowed hard.
“I belong to them.“
The Sex: Holy moly. This is absolutely one of the horniest, sexiest histroms I’ve read in quite some time. At a time when traditionally published books seem to getting further and further away from steam, this self-published book BROUGHT THE STEAM and I am so grateful. Cora and Nate, once they act on their mutual attraction, are quite the horny pair.
Their first time is erotic and sensual and when Nate orders her to “hold the bedpost, Cora”, she rightfully unravels and honestly, who could blame her. They get down in the stables, in the library, in her bed, in his bed. But the sexy times, while being delightfully filthy, also serve to underscore the emotional bonds being formed between these two. Every time Nate and Cora make love, he loses a little piece of his heart to her.
The Prose: Erin Langston’s prose is almost lyrical and poetic at times. It’s gorgeous and lush and I’m glad I took my time with this book instead of inhaling it as is my habit. This book deserves to be treasured and savored.
She was careening, she was soaring, she was freewheeling, and buffeted by a wind howling of chance, she was reasonless, she was seasonless.
The Letters: To sell the facade of their romance to the public and to the courts, Cora demands Nate write her love letters to prove their relationship is real. Nate is reticent at first and then stumbles and fumbles his way to writing her letters that are so exquisite and beautiful and profound, I could have read an entire book solely consisting of just those letters. Every chapter in this book starts off with a letter, and the chapters that include letters from Nate to Cora are hands down the best. He claims he doesn’t know how to write love letters and then he pens this:
I’ll reach, I’ll stretch, I’ll climb along the shell of myself until I’m made for you.
If you asked me for the goddamned sun, I would make your life a perpetual July.
Good grief, Nathaniel! I am undone by this fictional hero and his glorious love letters to Cora.
The Law: ok, so this one is a doozy. Per the law of the time, mothers had no legal rights to their own children and the fathers could name guardians for their children other than the mother and the mother had no recourse. This is, of course, utterly horrible and also ends up being the basis for this book and the choices Cora makes to protect her family and hold on to her own children. I really appreciate the research and sources at the end of the book – I always love a good author’s note and this one included receipts as far as the research she’d done to shed light on this issue in this book.
Let me just make it clear, this is a romance with a HEA that includes Cora being able to keep her children.
The Children: Leo and Tess are adorable and silly and fun. They are written perfectly for their ages and they show up at just the right times and conveniently disappear at just the right times. Cora, at her heart, is a mother first and foremost, trying to protect her children and keep her family intact.
Nate may not have been there from the start but as he states, Cora and her kids are the beginning of him, the becoming of him.
The Relationships: Of course, it’s a romance so the predominant relationship is the burgeoning romance between Cora and Nate. But it’s also about familial relationships, about parental relationships, the bonds between a mother and child as well as the ones between a father and child.
The relationship Nate begins to form with Leo and Tess is a direct contradiction to the relationship he has with his much older brother, Raymond, who basically raised him. It’s complicated and messy, as most family dynamics tend to be and it’s written with a beautiful complexity that speaks to who these characters are, with their flaws and their strengths.
The Character Development: Both Cora and Nate grow through the course of this book though it could be argued that it’s really Nate who undergoes the biggest transformation, from rake to besotted family man.
Cora has her own transformation, from a wary, emotionally scared and scarred single mother fighting for her family and trying to control everything to someone who opens up her heart and learns to lean, to go after what she wants, and to make herself and her needs a priority.
But it’s really a coming of age story about Nate, about finding his place, figuring out his path, and where he belongs that makes this story so special.
He had four children – two he made and two who had made him – and Nate loved them all fiercely, equally, differently.
Needless to say, this book spoke to me on a fundamental level. I adored every word of this book, from the letters to the romance to the forming of a family.
Content Notes: off-page death of family members, toxic past marriage, toxic parental relationship