A Rogue's Proposal, by Stephanie Laurens (Cynsters #4)

>> Tuesday, November 25, 2003

I couldn't stop myself and so I read book 4 in Stephanie Laurens's Bar Cynster series: A Rogue's Proposal (excerpt).

Demon Cynster has seen love bring his brethren to their knees, and he's vowed that he will not share their fate...until he spies Felicity Parteger sneaking about his racing stable. Demon remembers Felicity as a mere chit of a girl, but now she stands before him - begging for his help - all lush curves, sparkling eyes...and so temptingly worthy of the love he's vowed never to surrender to any woman.

Felicity knew Demon was one of the ton's most eligible bachelors and a rogue of the worst sort, but he was the only one capable of getting her friend out of trouble. Her fascination with Demon had nothing to do with the power lurking just beneath his devil-may-care facade - or with the desire that flares when he takes her in his arms. Felicity knows Demon will never yield her the love she desperately seeks, but could a marriage of passion alone - even with a man like Demon - be enough?
With the first 3, each had been better than the previous one, with Scandal's Bride being nearly perfect. A Rogue's Proposal couldn't maintain the level, and while it was entertaining, it was definitely not as good as the others. A B.

At first, it was good, even though the whole beginning, with Demon running away to hide from even the possibility of getting married, was a bit idiotic, in my opinion. I know this is a running thread in the series, the remaining bachelors lamenting that their numbers are dwindling, at the end of each book, and the fear that they must be next, but it's something that to me doesn't add much to the books, especially because this usually lasts a couple of pages at most, once they've met the heroine.

Anyway, I liked how the conflict and their relationship were set up. The girl-in-disguise-as-a-boy works here, unlike in many other books, when it feels like idiocy on the part of the heroine. I liked that Demon doesn't have a knee-jerk reaction of disapproval, just because she's a girl. When he's told what's going on, he actually agrees that Felicity's plan is a good one.

What wasn't so good was the actual romance, at least during the first half of the book. I was completely creeped out by the way Demon continuously obsessed about Flick's "innocence", even thinking that that was the reason for most of his fascination with her. The worst part is that he went on and on about this, how he was going to teach her about passion, etc. etc.

However, after the first half, it improved a lot. There was much less obsessing on Harry's part about Flick's innocence and more of him being shocked about how not innocent she was (that is, yes, she was inexperienced and a virgin, but she learned fast ;-) Oh, and I liked that there were a lot of undesired (on his part) consequences of trying to manipulate and manage her with his greater experience. That was much more fun.

There were lots of things in the romance that I did like. I loved it when Harry compromised Flick and then was so irritated when she didn't allow him to "sacrifice" by marrying her. And I didn't think that Flick's reasons for not accepting him at once were stupid or flimsy; I thought she did right in holding out until she was sure this was going to be a love match. Good for her!

Something else I liked was how willing Demon was to allow Flick to be an active party in discovering the race-fixing syndicate. He doesn't exactly like it, but he knows there's nothing he can do, and is graceful about accepting it.

I liked the setting very much. I've never been too interested in the world of horse racing, but lately having read Nora Roberts' True Betrayals, which describes the present-day scene, and having watched Seabiscuit, I find myself fascinated by it. A Rogue's Proposal has an interesting look at what this world was like in 19th century England. I've no idea how accurate it is, but it's fascinating. The suspense subplot, related to this world, was interesting in itself and I felt enhanced the romance. A good balance.

All in all, an entertaining book.

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