Rosemary Stevens writes pleasant and entertaining Regencies and How the Rogue Stole Christmas is no exception. She has a nice feel for
the period, provides a well developed love story, peoples her story with
engaging secondary characters, and adds a dollop of suspense as well.
Lady Margery Fortescue has not had good luck at Christmas. Three years
earlier, the season saw her elopement to Scotland which led to her being
disowned by her father. A year later, her husband Simon drank himself
to death, leaving her impoverished and, given the unsatisfactory nature
of her marriage, insecure about her own attractiveness. And last year
her beloved cat had died.
But Margery is determined that this year will be different. Even though
she and her former nurse have been reduced to living in a small country
cottage, they will celebrate the holiday and enjoy themselves. But
Rosemary will not accept the kind invitation of Lady Altham to a
Christmas house party. Rosemary does not want anything to do with the
social scene. And then the roof of the cottage collapses, and off they
Jordan, Viscount Reckford (known as "Reckless") has no intention of
accepting Lady Altham's invitation to the same party. But when his
young friend Lord Harry gets into still more trouble during his first
excursion to London, Jordan decides that some time in the country would
be good for his protege.
Thus, both Margery and Jordan are somewhat reluctantly on the road to
the same destination when the weather takes a hand. Sleet leads both
parties to stop at the same ramshackle inn, and when Margery makes her
way to the kitchen to get wash water, the two come face to face. Jordan
assumes that the lovely young woman in the flannel nightgown is a maid
and steals a kiss. Margery is affronted (and surprisingly effected by
said kiss) and announces that she is no maid to be trifled with but
rather a lady. When the landlord suggests that lady has perhaps been
compromised, Jordan (to his surprise), offers marriage. Margery
disdainfully refuses and leaves early the next morning, expecting never
to see the rogue again.
But then they meet at Lady Altham's party.
As you can see, Stevens has set up her story nicely. Both have had bad
experiences with marriage. Margery's husband had never touched her;
Jordan's wife had died of her excess, excesses he felt he should have
controlled. The two are attracted to each other, but Margery wonders
about Jordan's intentions and Jordan fears to ever again be responsible
for another person's happiness.
Surrounding the love story are a number of well done subplots. Will
Lady Altham continue to ignore her worthy suitor in pursuit of a false
sense of youth and romance? Will Lady Altham's granddaughter and Lord
Harry, busy sparring with each other, realize that they are in the
throes of young love? Will the dishonest steward get his comeuppance.?
Will the beauteous Lovely Lily Carruthers, a widow with designs of one
sort of another on Jordan's person and purse, impede the path of true
All in all, How the Rogue Stole Christmas is a perfectly
acceptable Regency romance. If it doesn't have that certain something
that sets it apart from the pack and leads to a recommendation, it
nonetheless provides the Regency fan with an enjoyable read. Stevens
does the Regency well. (OK, is this the place where I raise the burning
issue, discussed over and over, as to whether there were Christmas trees
in Regency England?) Another author we will miss when Fawcett
discontinues its Regency line.