Lady Isabel Morrow, daughter of a marquess, has recently
discovered a side of her late husband of which she had no
notion: Andrew Morrow sold forged paintings. If it became
known, her good name would be ruined, and she could never find
a suitable husband for her ward Lucy. One person immediately
comes to mind: Bow Street Runner Callum Jenks. Callum
investigated her husband's death, and Callum and Isabel got to
know each other just a tad better than would be proper. That
was eighteen months ago, but when Isabel comes to Callum for
help in stealing a painting, the police officer, frustrated
with the justice system, agrees to break the law for the woman
who has unknowingly already stolen his heart.
I knew, from reading the blurb, that LADY ROGUE would stretch
the boundaries of historical reality, but Theresa Romain's
creativity has never let me down. However, LADY ROGUE is a very
odd little book, quite surreal at times; I had the feeling that
I was somehow missing a metaphor or an allegory somewhere. LADY
ROGUE is a study on Regency society on class differences, on
the status of women, on the expectations that were placed on
the people. Where I was expecting hi-jinks -- although there
were some -- LADY ROGUE is more about two people at a
crossroads; it's a character study at which Ms. Romain excels.
I'm not quite sure if the whole forgery angle was all that
necessary; the purpose was basically to bring Callum and Isabel
together, which I believe could have been done through Callum
having a second look into Andrew's death. On the other hand, it
did provide the author with the opportunity to enchant with her
extensive knowledge of art, her sublime understanding of
colors, nuances, and shadings whether in her descriptions of
paintings of the inner working of the human psyche.
Theresa Romain weaves a different sort of romance between two
people yearning for independence, battling existential ennui,
at odds with a rigid society that frowns on relationships that
defy the accepted standards. While I felt the foundation for
LADY ROGUE was rather shaky, and some details questionable, at
the core is a fascinating look at the growth of two individuals
who have started to doubt of their purpose in life. In the end,
Ms. Romain's attention to detail, her acute sense of
observation, and her unbelievably gorgeous prose, delicate and
powerful, makes it all worthwhile.
As far as London’s high society knows, Lady Isabel Morrow
is above reproach. But the truth is rarely so simple.
Though the young widow’s passionate fling with dashing
Bow Street Runner Callum Jenks ended amicably months ago,
she now needs his expertise. It seems Isabel’s late
husband, a respected art dealer, was peddling forgeries.
If those misdeeds are revealed, the marriage prospects of
his younger cousin— now Isabel’s ward—will be ruined.
For the second time, Isabel has upended Callum’s well-
ordered world. He’s resolved to help her secretly replace
the forgeries with the real masterpieces, as a . . .
friend. A proper sort of friend doesn’t burn with desire,
of course, or steal kisses on twilight errands. Or draw a
willing lady into one passionate encounter after another.
Isabel’s scheme is testing Callum’s heart as well as his
loyalties. But with pleasure so intoxicating, the real
crime would be to resist . . .