Lady Rogue is the third book in Theresa Romain’s Regency-era Royal Rewards series. I was very excited about the opportunity to read this book because I enjoyed the second book in the series.
Callum Jenks, the hero of this book, played a minor role in the earlier books. He works as a Bow Street Runner, and he is summoned to the house of Isabel Morrow. He investigated her husband’s death a year ago, but now she needs help dealing with a different matter entirely.
Isabel’s husband was involved with art forgery, and she needs Callum’s help to keep this shameful secret from being revealed. Her proposition consists of a scheme of questionable legality- is it really a crime to replace forgeries with originals? If the truth about the late Mr. Morrow came out, it would ruin Isabella, as well as her young ward, who is poised to make her debut in Society.
This is an interesting book. To begin with, it deals with social disparity- Isabel’s husband was not titled, but her father is a peer. She lives relatively humbly, but moves in elevated social circles. Callum, on the other hand, has working class origins. He is not a gentleman, and his parents own a grocery store. Social disparity is a popular trope, but it seems like there are a lot more examples of the heroine being the one from the humble background. Even when the hero is the one who did not grow up among the aristocracy, he often ends up inheriting a title, and is a gentleman by default. That is not the case with this book; Callum has an interesting approach to his position. He struggles to reconcile his feelings for Isabel because they come from different worlds. But he also doesn’t feel entirely comfortable around his family because of his guilt over choosing something other than the family grocery business.
I’ve written quite a bit about Callum, but Isabel is equally fascinating. Her position in Society is already tenuous, thanks to her less than advantageous match. Now that she is a widow, she is tolerated again, but she knows that if anyone were to find out about the forgeries, she would be permanently ruined. She is quite pragmatic, and has already formulated a plan to keep the secret from being revealed. Another thing that I thought was very interesting was that Callum and Isabel had a brief tryst almost a year ago- not too long after he was investigating her husband’s death. This is mentioned in the first few pages, so it’s hardly a spoiler, but I had to read the passage twice to make sure I understood. That’s another rarity for the genre, and it had quite an impact on their dynamic.
The one thing that surprised me was that there were some huge revelations towards the end of the book. They came completely out of nowhere; there wasn’t any foreshadowing at all that would have indicated anything of that nature. These revelations were also quite dark, and contrasted with the tone of the rest of the book. The issues were resolved as quickly as they were revealed, allowing the book to end on a positive note.
I would recommend Lady Rogue. This book functions well as a standalone, because Callum only had a minor role, and most of the characters from the earlier books do not appear in this one. I liked the way that Romain took a fresh approach to classic tropes. I am definitely looking forward to reading more of Romain’s books in the future!
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advance copy of this book.