Monday, September 1, 2003

Review: A Rogue's Promise by Peggy Waide

Title: A Rogue's Promise
Author: Peggy Waide

Read copy: Mass Market Paperback
Published: June 28, 2002
Publisher: Leisure Books
ISBN: 0843950226
ISBN-13: 9780843950229


Eighteen years before, deep in the mountains of China, Lady Joanna Fenton's father found a sacred statue. The two-headed dragon was reputed to beget prosperity, but for Joanna, it had brought nothing but heartache. Her father had been obsessed with the piece until his death. Her brother had disappeared. Now, so had the artifact itself.


Her search took her to the darkest establishments of London. She visited pawnbrokers, dockside taverns, anyplace that might hold the answers she sought; and from those rat holes stepped a friend. He was a smuggler, a by-blow, and a man who had forsaken his noble heritage for the shadows. A man who saw at once that she did not belong. And when MacDonald Archer swore to aid her, no matter the cost to himself, Joanna realized something her father had not: the secret to true happiness was not in Oriental charms or spells, but in love.

My rating:

Lady Joanna Fenton is in way over her head. The ancient Chinese statue that would have saved her family’s finances is gone, along with her younger brother. With her mother’s ostrich-like attitude and the date of the auction, where the statue would’ve been sold, drawing near, Joanna doesn’t know where to turn.

On a friend’s recommendation, she boldly decides to go where no lady of the Ton has ever ventured before, and enters a seedy tavern in search of one MacDonald Archer. She hopes the man used to move in the underbelly of London, might help her find her brother and the statue, all the while keeping at bay a scandal that might ruin her sister’s possibilities of a prosperous marriage.

What she finds in the tavern is not at all what she’s expected. Mac looks more a gentleman than a (retired) smuggler, his educated manners belie his surroundings, and he has no intention of helping her.

Mac is just one illegal shipment away from forsaking his smuggler’s ways and try his hand at legal trade. The danger and adventure are no longer satisfying and in truth he doesn’t know what exactly he’s missing or looking for.

When Joanna enters his life and immediately intrigues him. He sees beyond the veneer she sports in front of the society and her intent on saving her family piques his interest. She is a puzzle, both vulnerable and determined and he soon joins her on her hunt fro answers.

Though at first glance this book is a romantic suspense novel from the regency era, the mystery subplot serves more as the backdrop for the romance and the necessary character development that comes along with it.

Unlike other historical suspense novels that focus mostly on the mystery subplot, reducing the romance into graphic coupling scenes with no romance and even less love, the romance in this book is strong and endearing. The author made an effort to incorporate equal amounts of sensuality and romance and her effort paid off.

Though Lady Joanna Fenton is a model of HR heroines, strong, determined, feisty, her lack of confidence and continuous disbelief in compliments Mac pays her really got on my nerves from time to time. Don’t get me wrong, she’s a wonderful character. Despite the fact that her family often takes her for granted and her reputation has been torn to pieces a few years back, she hasn’t fled to the country or doesn’t stay locked up in the house, but faces the polite society with as much dignity as she can possess. As Mac notices, she’s a mix of determination and vulnerability, and luckily by the end of the novel, she stops behaving like a martyr to her mother and brother, and decides to take Mac’s words to heart.

What to say of Mac? He is McDreamy and McSteamy blended into one, every woman’s fantasy come true. He’s a walking contradiction, which all women find appealing. He’s a bad boy one moment, and the next he’s putty in the hands of the woman he loves. Strong yet gentle, with an extremely short fuse, but caring, passionate, and with a sensual touch that turns both Joanna and the reader into mush.

With a combination of romance, suspense, and danger this book is one breathtaking rollercoaster. Yet despite all the action, the true gem of this book are the two main characters.


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