Author: Suzanne Enoch
Publication Info: St. Martin’s Press, July 29, 2014
Genre: Romance, Historical
Overall Grade: A-
The Flavor: Georgette Heyer meets Diana Gabaldon
The Short Version: Sweet, romantic, and filled with spark and snap, Rogue With a Brogue is a very pleasant way to spend a summer afternoon.
A Rogue For Every Lady
London, 1817: Stuck in a Mayfair ballroom, thanks to his lovestruck brother, Highlander Arran MacLawry wants nothing but a bit of distraction from an arranged betrothal—and a clever auburn-haired lass in a vixen's mask promises just that . . . until he discovers that she's the granddaughter of the Campbell, chief of clan MacLawry's longtime rival. Despite their families' grudging truce, falling for fiery Mary Campbell is a notion too outlandish even for this Highlander…
The Thrill Of The Forbidden
Raised on tales of savage MacLawrys, Mary is stunned to realize the impressively strapping man in the fox's mask is one of them. Surely the enemy shouldn't have such a broad chest, and such a seductive brogue? Not that her curiosity matters—any dalliance between them is strictly forbidden, and she's promised to another. But with the crackling spark between them ready to catch flame, love is worth every risk…
The Characters: A-
Character development is always extra-important in romance novels, since one of the genre’s defining traits is that two characters and one relationship take up the vast majority of a book. I mention this so that when I say Rogue with a Brogue’s main characters are more than usually prominent, you understand how notable that is. This is a book that spends almost every page, almost every paragraph focusing on the hero, the heroine, and their love affair.
With that kind of attention, it would be easy to create two characters the reader would be heartily sick of by the closing chapter. Enoch doesn’t: Mary is basically plucky, but not to the point of stupidity; and Arran is loyal and sweet without crossing into brainless or stalker territory. Both of them make mistakes, both experience emotional growth, and by the end of the book I was still as interested in their relationship as I had been in the beginning.
Because this book maintains such a tight focus throughout, and because the conflict is mostly external—the lovers themselves resolve most of their internal conflict fairly quickly—the pacing does lag in the middle a bit, and there are a few times when events are too-obviously created simply to drag out the action. But the lull doesn’t last too long, and the ending is fun enough that I mostly just forgot about any pacing problems.
The Dialogue: A-
The Setting: A
I usually don’t warm to Regency romances with Scottish elements—I don’t find brogues and kilts sexy on principle, and it feels as though, for many Scottish Regency’s, that’s the beginning and the end of what Scotland contributes to the story (aside from a sort of generic fieriness on the part of the heroine, of course). This isn’t true for Enoch, who weaves a lot of context and texture into her Scotland-related settings and Scottish characters. Scotland felt like it meant something in this book, and I really enjoyed that.
This is a very rare beast indeed: a romance novel with an ending as satisfactory as its beginning. It doesn’t merely fizzle away, as so many of its compatriots do—in fact, the ending of Rogue With a Brogue is what prompted the comparison to Georgette Heyer above. I was strongly reminded of the endings found in The Grand Sophy, or Venetia: strong, poppy conclusions where everybody is running around talking and yelling and being generally amusing.
Negative: The main flaw is that lull in the middle. Well, also I think the title is kind of irritating. But a whole bunch of people have disagreed with me on that, so maybe I’m just being cranky.
Parting Thoughts: This is a sweet, funny book that never strays far from its central romance.