Title: A Most Devilish Rogue
Classification: Adult Fiction
Genre: Historical Romance
Format: Paperback; 352 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books (August 27, 2013)
Author's Website: http://ashlynmacnamara.net/
Notes: I received an eARC loan from the publisher
Every so often in life, events occur that make us take a good look at ourselves, at our lives. George Upperton is at such a pivotal point as his mistress of two months has just announced to him she is with child. Before he can even grasp his head around it all, her brother bursts in and makes him promise to do right by her. Something he'd have done anyways, but perhaps not in such a grandiose fashion had he his wits about him. Not knowing how he feels about the situation and still reeling from it all he goes to a house party being given by one of his friends. There, he comes across a young woman looking after a child as he plays by the river. Perhaps it is the thought he too will soon have a little person to look after that draws him to the pair. When the lad falls in, George rescues him thereby gaining an introduction to the beguiling creature whom he soon learns is the boy's mother.
Isabelle Mears knows how cruel society can be. Years ago she fell from grace as she found herself with child and her family, friends, and society, in general, turned their backs on her. One indiscretion was all it took to ruin her life, and she's been paying for it dearly ever since as the cad with a silver tongue refused to marry her. Resolving herself to a fate of her own making, she has made her son, Jack, the center of her world. When he goes missing, the only one who offers her any assistance is the devilish rogue who saved her son from drowning in the river just days before. Dare she trust him? Dare she not? With no one else to help her, she decides to take a chance.
I found the beginning of this story very unusual. I wasn't really sure if I liked George after our first introduction to him. He was a little thrown by the idea that his mistress being with child, and it was not his most finest of moments. In the next chapter, however, we start to see a very different gentleman. One trying to help out the family of a friend who had committed suicide after getting himself way in over his head in debt. With this latest predicament being thrown his way, he wonders if he can still afford to.
Isabelle is one tough cookie, but even she has her breaking point and that point is when her son is kidnapped. Isabelle is seen as a pariah by society. Think of Hester Prynne of the Scarlet Letter fame. No one wants to associate with her, no one wants her son to associate with theirs (as if illegitimacy is catching), and no one wants to help her find her son. They see her and her son as being beneath them. Perhaps even feeling she got what she deserved. When the only woman who was kind to her, the woman she and her son live with also turns up missing, she has no one to turn to. She has absolutely no one's shoulder to cry on and absolutely no one to go to for comfort except for George Upperton. He offers to help. Slowly, the guard around her heart begins to falter for the man who comes to her aid and who manages to recruit the help of others. And even though she questions his motives, she can't help but start falling for the man. He gives her hope her son will be found and the comfort she needs.
What I ended up liking most about George is he seemed to grow up right in front of our eyes as the story progressed. The news he might be a father, added to the situation Isabelle finds herself in opens his eyes to a society he, being a man, never really saw. He sees the injustice of it all and, more importantly, he sees the true person Isabelle is and how undeserving she is of what happened to her. Plus, he's forced to face some of his own personal issues which can be attributed to his father.
Overall, I gave this one 4 out of 5 roses. I felt it was a nice blend of romance, mystery, and suspense. There were plenty of twists, some of which I foresaw and some which completely took me by surprise. I enjoyed watching George break down the barriers Isabelle had built up around her over the years. Likewise, it was nice seeing Isabelle get under George's skin and seeing these two both take a chance on love. A very heartwarming tale. On the Lisarenee Romance Rating Scale, this one earned a STEAM rating--too hot for a fan, but you still have a handle on things. You should use extreme caution when reading a book with this rating in public. People may inquire as to why you looked flustered and flushed.