Review: The Rogue Not Taken by Sarah MacLean + Giveaway

Review: The Rogue Not Taken by Sarah MacLean + GiveawayThe Rogue Not Taken (Scandal and Scoundrel, #1) by Sarah MacLean
Format: eARC
Source: publisher via Edelweiss
Formats available: paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genres: historical romance, regency romance
Series: Scandal & Scoundrel #1
Pages: 384
Published by Avon on December 29th 2015
Purchasing Info: Author's WebsitePublisher's WebsiteAmazonBarnes & NobleKoboBook Depository

The youngest of the infamous Talbot sisters scandalized society at the Liverpool Summer Soiree, striking her sister’s notoriously philandering husband and landing him backside-first in a goldfish pond. And we thought Sophie was the quiet one…
When she finds herself the target of very public aristocratic scorn, Sophie Talbot does what she must to escape the city and its judgment—she flees on the back of a carriage, vowing never to return to London…or to society. But the carriage isn’t saving her from ruin. It’s filled with it.
The Marquess of Eversley was espied descending a rose trellis—escaping an irate Earl and his once-future countess. No lady is safe from Eversley’s Engagement Ending Escapades!
Kingscote, the Marquess of Eversley, has never met a woman he couldn’t charm, a quality that results in a reputation far worse than the truth, a furious summons home, and a long, boring trip to the Scottish border. When King discovers stowaway Sophie, however, the trip becomes anything but boring.
He thinks she’s trying to trick him into marriage. She wouldn’t have him if he were the last man on earth. But carriages bring close quarters, dark secrets, and unbearable temptation, and suddenly opposites are altogether too attractive…

My Review:

When I started compiling my Best of 2015 lists, I noticed that I hadn’t read a lot of historical romances this year. Not merely that there weren’t any on my “Best” list, but that I hadn’t picked up more than a handful to read at all. Plenty of historical fiction, and LOTS of historical mystery, but very few historical romances.

So when the opportunity to get this book for a tour came up, I decided that a revisit to the Regency and its aftermath was in order. And now that I’ve come back from that journey, as much as I enjoyed this book, I understand why I’ve been turning away from historical romances in general.

I prefer romances where the heroine and the hero are relatively equal. Possibly not in social standing, but in intelligence, action and agency. She has to have something, be something, more than a pretty face and nubile body willing to swear undying devotion in order to be interesting as a character.

On of the things I liked about Eva Leigh’s Forever Your Earl is that she found a way to give her heroine independence and agency that wasn’t so anachronistic as to be completely unbelievable.

I’ve also discovered that I really dislike the artificiality and ridiculous lack of mores of the ton. I can understand a desire for material comfort (can’t we all) but I can’t seem to let go of my willing suspension of disbelief enough to understand why anyone would want to join this set of complete fakers.

I will try to get down off my soapbox now.

As I said, I really did enjoy The Rogue Not Taken, and I think it is because the rogue in question, and also the road that Sophie Talbot travels down with him, are unexpected. That road sets them both loose from society and its expectations. Even though Sophie knows that her temporary freedom is just that, temporary, she has still come to the conclusion that whatever time she manages to steal from the expectations of society is totally worth it.

The beginning scene of the book displays just how little agency that Sophie, her sisters, and upper class women in general, have in that society. She catches her brother-in-law the Duke in flagrante delicto at a house party with a woman other than her pregnant sister. And when Sophie verbally lays into him to defend her sister’s honor, he is the one who society follows. He’s a duke and she’s an upstart. It doesn’t matter that she is right and he is an ass and boor and a cad. He’s quality and she’s not and that’s it.

And her sister is just supposed to quietly bear it all, and no one except Sophie ever defends her. While one wants to stand up and cheer for Sophie, the way that it all fell to her and then on her feels uncomfortable for 21st century readers. Possibly historically accurate, but squirmy-wrong.

Sophie’s story is all about her escape. In one decisive moment, she decides to go back to the place she used to be happy – her childhood home. If her only way of getting there is to buy a footman’s livery and masquerade as the Marquess of Eversley’s footman, so be it.

What I enjoyed about this story was their journey, because they are outside society. Eversley initially doesn’t want Sophie around, and disparages her, often unintentionally, at every turn. But the sparkle of her unconventional personality, and just the simple way that she attracts trouble like a magnet, keep him amused. It isn’t that she is pretty, although she is. It’s the way that she approaches life and moves past roadblocks that has engaged his attention like nothing has in years.

Kingscote Eversley is having fun, and doesn’t want it to stop.

Sophie Talbot is having freedom, and she doesn’t want it to stop, either. While she is often a bit naive about the amount of danger that a young woman can bring down on herself by traveling alone, she is determined to reach her destination with as little help as possible. King finds himself protecting her without being overbearing about it. She needs a bit of looking after, and he needs someone who rushes into new experiences with eyes and mind wide open.

That they fall in love with each other, while inevitable, wasn’t half as much fun as their journey to get there.

Escape Rating B: I liked Sophie a lot. Just as Sophie does, one comes to like King Eversley as the journey goes on. I’ve discovered that I hate the ton and all it represents, and I enjoyed this story a lot more when it was far divorced from the society from which it sprang.

The Rogue Not Taken comes to a nice but conventional ending. I found the journey much more unconventional, and therefore much more fun than the destination. And I loved that King was proven completely and utterly wrong. Sophie was definitely not the “unfun” Talbot sister after all.



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4 thoughts on “Review: The Rogue Not Taken by Sarah MacLean + Giveaway

  1. Nice review! I have this book on my wishlist, waiting for the ebook price to drop below the MMP price. 🙁

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