Publication date: August 27, 2013
A rogue can certainly go about living a careless life and lavishly spend money, if said rogue actually had any money left. George Upperton, a charming rogue, is in desperate need of funds. Not only is his allegedly pregnant mistress demanding financial compensation, but his luck at cards had deserted him as well, leaving him with few means to procure the money necessary to pay his deceased friend's debts, and enact his plan of revenge against the Earl of Redditch, the man who led to his friend's death.
A chance encounter and a swift rescue put Isabelle Mears and her son Jack in his way, and George was immediately intrigued by the passion within Isabelle clamoring to be freed from the confines of reality and uncertainty.
Isabelle tries to resist George's temptation, having been a victim of a rogue's charming seduction that left her with an illegitimate child. Her internal turmoil is keenly expressed; she struggles with the responsibility of motherhood, yet longs for even a fraction of the carefree vivacity she had before her ruination. And George is proving to be a most dangerous man to her heart and reputation.
As George comes to care for Isabelle and Jack, his rakish façade begins to crumble, revealing the gentle interior of the man within: a clandestine musician, a good and loyal friend, a doting father figure, a protective older brother, and most of all, a hero. The last is especially put on the test when Jack gets kidnapped, following the revealing of Isabelle's evil relations, and George must seek the truth from lies and deceit, all the while defending the woman whose reputation puts his to shame.
There is an abundance of spice in this story, for it has all the makings of a mystery combined with the poignancy of love and the bittersweet taste of life. A Most Devilish Rogue is less about passion than fortitude, for Isabelle who lived a tough life and constantly fears the myriad forces that could take her son away, and for George, who struggled to conceal himself amidst the selfish ton, and prove to Isabelle that he is more than just a feckless rogue.
Most noteworthy in this story is George's growth to maturity. From a man who sought nothing but expedient pleasure, he quickly transformed into a caring father figure for Jack, and promptly donned the mask of hero for Isabelle. His transformation seems a bit too abrupt, slightly out of place with his words and beliefs some pages ago. Disregarding that, it was a wonderful transformation necessary for the circumstances, not to mention for the enjoyment of the story.
Ashlyn Macnamara has crafted a well-written Regency with a heavy focus on plot and characterization; it takes on myriad shapes and forms, ranging from suspenseful to light-hearted, but with a well of emotions at its core, and a memorable sense of contentment upon reaching the end. While it is not overly romantic, the story is intriguing and takes a new spin on the Reformed Rakes trope. This is a book to be read!
*ARC received from the publisher via Netgalley
Rating: 4 tulips