"A fantastic assortment of bold, brilliant female characters!"
Reviewed by Miranda Owen
Posted January 10, 2017
READY SET ROGUE is book one in the Studies in Scandal
series by Manda Collins. This is a wonderful book that
will appeal to fans of Amanda Quick's quirky bluestocking
heroines. All four main female characters who are
introduced in this first book are extremely erudite and
excel in their chosen field of study. In READY SET ROGUE,
Manda Collins balances the introductory information that
is expected in the first book of a series, with the
romance and mystery that gives this book life.
Readers who enjoy the enemies-to-lovers trope will
definitely like watching the initial sparks between the
slightly haughty yet attractive Quill Beauchamp, Marquess
of Kerr and the spirited academic Ivy Wareham. Being
strangers to each other, and being placed in a highly
unusual situation, creates an atmosphere of doubt between
the two. Thankfully the prickly quality of their
relationship comes down a notch as the story progresses,
but these two strong-willed characters still clash every
so often. Although their occasional bickering sometimes
obscures their real feelings and true character, Quill
and Ivy grew on me. Quill's misplaced guilt over not
protecting the women in his life is revealed as the real
reason he initially gave Ivy a bit of a hard time about
her strange inheritance. As they get to know each other
better, the romance runs a little more smoothly and
becomes more enjoyable for readers.
I love mysteries that have a poisoner on the loose, and
READY SET ROGUE satisfies my craving for the lurid and
the sinister. As with their romance, Quill and Ivy have
an easier time as co-investigators after understanding
each other more. It's not long before Ivy's fellow lady
scholars and Quill's cousins join the investigation. I
like the way the mystery draws all the main characters
together and creates a feeling of comradery. I was
perplexed until the very end trying to figure out who the
villain is and the motivation for the crimes.
READY SET ROGUE has an assortment of bold, brilliant
female characters and showcases the strength and
resourcefulness of women. I look forward to watching the
friendships between this group of ladies develop with
each book. I am especially eager to read about oblivious
mathematician Daphne's foray into romance.
WHO WILL WRITE THE BOOK OF LOVE?
When scholarly Miss Ivy Wareham receives word that she’s
of four young ladies who have inherited Lady Celeste
Beauchamp’s estate with a magnificent private library,
packs her trunks straightaway. Unfortunately, Lady
nephew, the rakish Quill Beauchamp, Marquess of Kerr, is
determined to interrupt her studies one way or another...
Bequeathing Beauchamp House to four bluestockings—no
how lovely they are to look at—is a travesty, and Quill
simply won’t have it. But Lady Celeste’s death is not
as straightforward as it first seemed…and if Quill hopes
solve the mystery behind her demise, he’ll need Ivy’s
Along the way, he is surprised to learn that bookish Ivy
stirs a passion and longing that he has never known. This
rogue believes he’s finally met his match—but can Quill
convince clever, skeptical Ivy that his love is no
Don't miss Ready Set Rogue, the first in Manda
Collins' new series set in Regency England!
ExcerptHe’d known she was attractive—had categorized her as such almost
as soon as he saw her in the Fox and Pheasant earlier that day—but
even that observation hadn’t led him to imagine what she’d look
like in such dishabille. Well, that wasn’t quite true, he amended.
His mind had conjured her in much fewer clothes than this before
he’d realized just who she was. But any such imaginings had been
snuffed out as soon as he’d known her destination. The reality of
facing her here, now, in her virginal bedclothes, however, with
her lovely red hair framing her face like a halo was far more
tempting than his fantasy had been.
So, yes. She was disturbing him, but likely in a way she didn’t
Suppressing the urge to tell her just that, he said instead, “I
was too restless to sleep. It takes a bit for me to settle in to a
new place. So there’s no harm done.”
Moving farther into the room, she set her candle down on one of
the large library tables and wrapped her arms across her chest.
“It’s chilly in here,” she said frowning. “I hadn’t expected it
this close to the sea. I thought it was supposed to be milder
Wordlessly, he looked away from her and moved over to kneel before
the fireplace, stoking the embers back into a blaze. “It’s still
early spring,” he said on standing, brush- ing his hands together
more for something to do than to remove any soot. “The breeze off
the channel keeps the air fairly cool until summer.”
But she wasn’t paying him any mind; instead she scanned the
shelves that lined the walls behind him.
“Looking for something in particular?” he asked, not- ing the
impatience flash in her gaze before she replaced it with polite
indifference. “Something to read before sleep, perhaps? Something
Her brow furrowed at his question. He’d meant it to be playful,
but her response told him that it had come off more sharply than
“I’d hoped you’d decided to stop treating me like an op- portunist
here to steal your inheritance from you,” she said, pursing her
lips. “I have it on very good authority that you’ve a great many
houses as part of the Kerr estate— ones much grander and more
impressive than this one. I do not understand why you cannot
manage to accept the loss of this one. Unless, of course, like
most boys you dis- like sharing your toys.”
She said this last part dismissively over her shoulder as she
stepped past him and openly began to read through the shelves on
the far wall.
Turning to watch her move from shelf to shelf, he sighed. “I
suppose I deserve that after the way I behaved this afternoon. But
let me assure you that it’s no petty childhood jealousy that made
me distrust you and your compatriots, Miss Wareham.”
This must have surprised her, for she turned and looked at him
through narrowed eyes. “No? Then what?”
He thrust a hand through his hair, fighting the urge to look away.
“Have you never faced the removal of a child- hood memory?” he
asked, finally. “Never wished to hold onto the last bastion of
somewhere that gave you comfort?”
Arrested, she tilted her head. “And that’s what this place was for
you?” she asked. “A bastion of comfort?”
He wasn’t sure why, but Quill felt more exposed in that moment
than he would have if he were stark naked. But he knew he owed her
an explanation. Especially after the way he’d treated her earlier.
“For me, for Serena, and for my cousin Dalton,” he admitted. “Our
own homes were not particularly . . .” He broke off as he tried to
think of a word that wouldn’t shock her. He could hardly tell her
about the debauchery that had reigned in his own house before his
father died. And the circumstances of Serena and Dalton’s
upbringing weren’t his to reveal. “Let’s just say that we found
our visits to Beauchamp House to be a relief from our own homes.”
Something flashed behind her eyes. Sympathy? Or something else?
Quill wasn’t sure, but he couldn’t fail to note the way she
squared her shoulders. As if she’d come to a decision.
Abandoning her scan of the bookshelves, she turned fully to face
him, her hands clasped before her so tightly that her knuckles
were white with it. “Lord Kerr,” she began, her green eyes
shadowed with trepidation. “There is something I must tell you.”
Quill felt his stomach drop, and a pang of disappoint- ment ran
through him. Now she’d admit that she and the others actually had
found some way to trick Aunt Celeste into leaving them Beauchamp
House. The whole business of the competition had sounded like a
farce, and though he’d known his aunt to possess a playful streak,
he’d never guessed it would reveal itself in such a way. Certainly
he’d not supposed she would play fast and loose with the dis-
position of Beauchamp House, where she’d spent so many happy
“Then by all means,” he drawled, allowing every bit of the world-
weary ennui that cloaked him in town to settle over him. “Tell me
all, Miss Wareham. I confess I am curi- ous to hear how you all
managed it, never having set foot in Beauchamp House before. It
must have taken a great deal of coordination amongst the four of
But if he’d expected her to surrender completely, he was to be
disappointed. “What?” she asked, her nose wrinkled in puzzlement.
“I thought we’d just put that behind us. And yet, here you are
with accusations again. You are like a dog with a bone, Lord Kerr.
“If not that, then what is it you wish to tell me?” he de- manded,
exasperated. He’d never thought himself to be a particularly
emotional man, but since he’d met this chit on the road he’d gone
through more feelings than a year in London had elicited from him.
He must be sickening for something. “You can hardly blame me for
jumping to con- clusions when we’ve just been speaking about my
“I can blame you all too easily,” she retorted with a scowl. “But
I will not because I am tired of being at cross purposes with you.
And I do not believe your aunt would like it.”
Indicating with a wave of his hand that she should go on, Quill
“I found a letter from your aunt waiting for me in my bedchamber,”
she said, her fine features marred by worry. “I greatly fear that
Lady Celeste was murdered.”
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