To Tame a Rogue by Linda Kay
(Zebra Time Travel, $5.99, R) ISBN 0-8217-6989-8
****
Arden St. Claire grew up with the stuffy St. Claires in New Orleans. She never had any fun in her life since it's just not acceptable to the St. Claires to be frivolous and have fun. One day she notices a travel agency called Any Time, Any Place and decides to go on a historical tour. However, Any Time, Any Place is a time travel agency, and she ends up in Regency England. Although she's dismayed that she's left in a forest by herself at night, she's confident that she'll get her money back since Tobias Thistlewaite, the owner of Any Time, Any Place, promised to refund her money if she couldn't find her heart's desire, and being stranded in Regency England forest is not her "heart's desire".

A moment after she arrives, she rescues William Robert Stanley Warrick, the sixth Duke of Wolverton - actually 11 years old, lest you think she's going to have a hot affair with him - from potential murderers and meets the duke's uncle, Captain Royce Warrick.

Royce is not impressed with this strange colonial woman who talks funny and acts funny. Furthermore, he suspects that she might have something to do with the numerous "accidents" his nephew has had recently. However, he can't deny his attraction to Arden and tries to push her away.

Arden has a different idea. She likes Royce, and she begins to think that Royce may be her heart's desire Tobias promised.

The plot thickens as more attempts on William's life are made, and Royce's betrothed, Lady Cristabel, makes an appearance. Arden tries to play Sherlock Holmes/bodyguard to William, get through the Season without disgracing herself completely before a bunch of snotty aristocrats, and seduce Royce before she must meet Tobias to return to her own time. Meanwhile, Royce is trying to find the conspirators of William's murder attempts, resist Arden, and not disgrace his family. Although I guessed the conspirators' identities quickly, the joy of reading To Tame a Rogue came not from the mystery aspect, but from Arden and Royce's interaction with each other.

The book worked on many different levels. I genuinely liked Arden. She's quick to adapt, spunky, and resourceful. She brings modern sensibility to the era, and she's not going to let Royce's dark scowls get in her way. In addition to a great heroine, the book had great pacing. Kay's style is clean, and the story's packed with action after action with just enough introspections from each character to make you understand the character's motivations and fears without getting bored of interminable internal monologues. Furthermore, Kay handled Arden's faux pas with humor without turning Arden into a TSTL (too stupid to live) heroine. Although Arden read several historical romance novels, she has no idea how to behave in front of the ton. Instead of agonizing about her mistakes, she shrugs them off or blames them on the absurdity of the British aristocratic ways and ideals.

However, To Tame a Rogue is not without minor flaws. First, Royce was a bit more problematic. Although he's an honorable gentleman and a great hero, he clung too long to "I can't dishonor my family" and bias against Arden (because she surely cannot be a gently bred lady!) and I don't think he groveled enough at the end. Finally, the book had an unnecessary epilogue at the end that didn't add anything to the story.

Despite those very minor quibbles, To Tame a Rogue has many outstanding qualities. This is Linda Kay's first book. May she write many more!

--Stella Knight


@ Please tell us what you think! back Back Home