|I know enough about romance publishing to understand the importance of the package, that is the cover and the title. To those who market books, these are frankly more important than what’s inside. I’m not going to talk about cover art here other than to say that the sultry lady clasping her dress in front of her does not much look like my picture of the heroine of Suzanne Enoch’s latest Regency historical. (At least she’s not clasping a half naked guy.) Rather, I want to talk about the title and what I perceive to be an interesting trend in this aspect of publishing.
I suppose The Care and Taming of A Rogue is a take on a familiar phrase, but, to be honest, it doesn’t have much to do with the story. The hero is not really a rogue (except that he undertakes on or about page 100 the now apparently necessary seduction of the virginal heroine, much to her delight.) There isn’t much about caring or taming either. But obviously, the marketers thought that this title would sell the book. (I imagine that everyone knows that mid-list authors rarely get to name that book.)
Category romances have always had overly descriptive titles which use key words. A couple of current examples would be The Tycoon’s Secret Affair or The Magnate’s Baby Promise. (And no, neither title inspired me to search out the book.) But I have noticed is that this practice of overly specific titles with key words has made its way into historicals. A few examples: Wicked Lord at a Wedding, Midnight Pleasures with a Scoundrel, The Wicked Duke Takes a Wife. Clearly, those who are out to sell us romances have concluded that scoundrels, rogues, and the generally wicked heroes are what sell. I guess they know what they are doing, but at least in the case of The Care and Taming of A Rogue, I’m not sure the title does the readers or the story any favors.
Actually, Suzanne Enoch has created a much more interesting hero and a much more interesting plot than the generic “rogue” romance would suggest. Sir Bennett Wolfe is an explorer and an author. His travels in Africa and the two books he has written about them have brought him considerable renown and a nice income from the Prince Regent of £5000 a year. He received support from the Africa Society for a third trip, this time to the dangerous Congo region. After three years away, he returns to London to make a startling discovery. His second-in-command, Captain David Langley, left the seriously wounded Wolfe, took his journals, returned to London, and informed the world that Wolfe was dead. Langley then proceeded to use the journals to write his own book about the expedition in which he portrayed his leader as incompetent and himself as heroic. Needless to say, Wolfe wants his journals and his reputation back.
The heroine is Lady Phillipa Eddison. Flip, as she is known, is perhaps less interesting that Sir Bennett. She is the prototypical blue-stocking who has lived vicariously through reading Wolfe’s and other books about travel and exploration. She has not accepted Langley’s description of her hero and when she meets Sir Bennett, she is even more convinced that he is not the hapless fellow portrayed in the recent book. Lady Phillipa is an attractive woman, but she has always lived in the shadow of her beauteous sister Olivia and does not appreciate her own charms. Sir Bennett does; he finds her much more attractive than the empty-headed debutantes who cluster around the resurrected explorer. There might be some questions about his competence, but he is so handsome and there is that £5000 a year! (One has to like a hero who prefers substance over show.)
Lady Phillipa is surprised at Sir Bennett’s regard and pursuit, but she welcomes his attentions. He is, after all, her hero and he is certainly much more interesting than the young men in her circle who can talk of nothing but fashion and fox-hunting. That Sir Bennett regards tonnish society as foolish and shallow only increases his attractiveness. She falls quickly under his seductive spell and succumbs willingly to his lures.
Enoch provides an enjoyable romance between two well-matched people. She offers some interesting insights into the competitive world of upper class explorers and adventurers at a time when there was a lot of the world left to explore. She has created an interesting plot centering on Bennett’s determination to regain both his reputation and his journals. I really thought that this would be a recommended read until the end when Phillipa engaged in some stupid behavior and the story almost went over the top. And there was my problem with the title.
Still, The Care and Taming of A Rogue is a perfectly acceptable romance with a few unusual twists.