Too Scandalous to Wed

The Infamous Rogue
by Alexandra Benedict
(Avon, $6.99, R) ISBN 978-0-06-168931-4
The Infamous Rogue is a pirate love story, set within the strict social confines of high society in 1825. The juxtaposition of the characters and their background provides for many insightful, awkward, and interesting moments.

Captain James Hawkins is a merchant sailor, and the brother-in-law of the Duke of Wembury, Damian Westmore. He and his three younger brothers sail together on the Bonny Meg, the ship left to them by their father. He should be a well-respected man, but there are rumors swirling all around the Hawkins family. The rumors are unfortunately all true, as James is the infamous pirate Black Hawk. He and his brothers no longer sail as pirates, because their sister Belle married Damian and they’re trying to build up a façade of respectability in her honor.

James loves his sister and his brothers. As the eldest, he feels a great deal of responsibility towards them, their welfare and happiness. He’s also a very miserable, angry man. The only times he’s ever been content in his life are aboard the Bonny Meg, or when he shared a plantation house in Jamaica eight years earlier with Sophia Dawson.

Sophia is the daughter of a fearsome pirate, and eight years ago, she lived in Jamaica in absolute freedom. She gardened, was free-spirited and creative, and completely in love with Black Hawk. Soon after she tumbled headlong into the affair, she felt the sting of judgment from the local villagers, who tormented her by calling her a whore. She asked Black Hawk to marry her, but he refused and Sophia left him, hoping she hurt him badly.

Now, a reformed and chaperoned Sophia is using her deceased father’s treasure to pay her way into London’s ton. She doesn’t express her opinions or her creativity anymore, she’s not interested in passion or love. Sophia wants respectability, and she’s set her sights on Maximilian, the Earl of Baine. Their courtship is moving slowly along when Sophia stumbles upon James at a ball hosted by Maximilian. Immediately, the old sparks start again, but with a differences: Sophia feels scorned and will do anything to stop James’ re-entry into her life, including threatening him by saying she will turn him into the authorities as Black Hawk if he won’t cooperate with her scheme to wed the Earl.

James is much tougher than Sophia remembers and he manages to snag an invitation to the Earl’s house party. James still carries the scars from Sophia’s leaving, and he decides that the perfect revenge will be having her again, just in time for Maximilian to find out.

The Infamous Rogue has a lot of good points. The story was interesting the whole way through with just enough plot twists and turns to amuse the reader. The two courtships are detailed in the story from both sides, which I appreciated because there are two very different sides to this story that give it depth.

James is a great hero: strong, honorable, complicated.  His loyalty to his siblings makes him softer, as he can seem very tough and hard at times.  James is also seductive, attractive, especially when he’s with Sophia.  He’s almost irresistible when he’s trying to coax her into remembering the way things were between them.

Sophia has a lot of good points, first being that she isn’t a typical heroine. She’s picked herself up after the destruction of her relationship with James, and set out to get what she wants from life - and damn the method of getting it. Sophia’s independence is also a bit of a bad thing; her headstrong, narrow-minded focus becomes a bit tiring. And Sophia has a serious anger problem. When she continuously physically attacks James, one wonders why he’s sticking around to be tormented.

When Sophia tells her side of the break up, it seems like a skimmed-over version. It’s hard to understand the depth of her rage towards James even after being told her perspective. 

Though the heroine is somewhat problematic, The Infamous Rogue is worth the read, if only to fall in love with the dashing Black Hawk over the weekend. 

--Amy Wroblewsky 

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