Duchess for a Day

Potent Charms

Mightier than the Sword

A Rogue’s Promise by Peggy Waide
(Leisure, $5.99, PG) ISBN 0-8439-5022-6
Peggy Waide has written an engaging story in A Rogue’s Promise even though it is a plot that one has seen before. This is a Regency story that uses intrigue and mystery to sustain the romance. This time, however, the romance prevails.

Joanna Fenton is the oldest daughter in a family that is generally scatterbrained. She takes over the role of family mentor when her father passes away, and she maintains that role for many years. She herself is ruined, a result of some nonsense during her season. Her mother is a spendthrift, her brother an irresponsible young noble and her sister a newly introduced debutante. Joanna is doing everything she can to keep the debtors away, including holding an auction to sell off artifacts her father has collected.

One such artifact, a Chinese dragon statue, is said to have magical powers that will bring immortality to the holder. When Joanna decides to sell it at auction, both the statue and her brother disappear. She seeks help in finding her brother.

MacDonald Archer is a bastard, born to a debutante who fell in love with the wrong man. She raised him in poverty and he never knew his father. He is acceptable on the fringes of society due to his friendship with the Earl of Kerry, a friend. He is also a former smuggler turned legitimate businessman.

Joanna seeks him out in a seamy tavern, and her courage impresses him. He agrees to help her, thanks to her relentless pursuit, and the two begin their journey to love. The strength of the story is in their relationship. Joanna is strong, stubborn, sensible and generally likable. She is everything a young innocent should not be…thanks to her air of responsibility.

Mac is handsome, intelligent, stubborn, heroic and sexy. His demeanor is one of a gentleman, while displaying his ability to handle himself in many situations and many locales. He is a romantic hero at his best. The love scenes between these two are sensual and their realistic interplay is satisfying. I was thrilled that they actually have more than just a “bedroom” relationship, show affection in public and act like two adults even when quarreling.

Their growing romance involves the pair working together, talking, sharing and even participating in situations that they find themselves. The difference between this story and many others of its ilk is this relationship. When they finally are forced to marry, Joanna is the one who causes the scandal, and she does so with her eyes open. The negative reaction by both to their dilemma is minimal and therefore, much more enjoyable than many long, drawn-out arguments.

The mystery is predictable and the resolution easy to read; yet it is fun to watch the two figure it out. The characters who pop in and out are generally formula cohorts such as a friend and his wife who believe in Mac, a kindly grandfatherly-type friend of the family, a long-lost father, and the dastardly villains, who are nasty to the core. Again, Waide’s handling of the scenes and the interactions is engaging throughout.

While this may not be top-level mystery, it is good romance. Give Peggy Waide’s A Rogue’s Promise a try and I don’t think you will be disappointed.

--Shirley Lyons

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