League of Extraordinary Women #2
This one wound up being the third one I read, but my favorite of the three so far. Lucie (and her cat Boudicca) are my favorites from the series thus far and I will certainly be naming my next cat Boudicca in her honor.
From the publisher marketing:
A lady must have money and an army of her own if she is to win a revolution–but first, she must pit her wits against the wiles of an irresistible rogue bent on wrecking her plans…and her heart.
Lady Lucie is fuming. She and her band of Oxford suffragists have finally scraped together enough capital to control one of London’s major publishing houses, with one purpose: to use it in a coup against Parliament. But who could have predicted that the one person standing between her and success is her old nemesis and London’s undisputed lord of sin, Lord Ballentine? Or that he would be willing to hand over the reins for an outrageous price–a night in her bed.
Lucie tempts Tristan like no other woman, burning him up with her fierceness and determination every time they clash. But as their battle of wills and words fans the flames of long-smoldering devotion, the silver-tongued seducer runs the risk of becoming caught in his own snare.
As Lucie tries to out-maneuver Tristan in the boardroom and the bedchamber, she soon discovers there’s truth in what the poets say: all is fair in love and war…
“Ma’am, I’m afraid the idea that a woman is a person, whether married or not, is so inherently radical no matter which way I present it I shall be considered a nuisance.” More than a nuisance. An outright challenge, a threat. For if a woman was a person in her own right, one could conclude she was also in possession of a mind and a heart of her own, and thus had needs of her own. But the unwearyingly self-sacrificing good mother and wife must not have needs, or, as Patmore’s perseveringly popular poem put it: Man must be pleased; but him to please / Is woman’s pleasure.
A note before I begin this one: I’m a cis straight white woman. I have rarely faced adversity and my culture has not been co-opted by any other groups. After talking to more people about this particular book, I realized how strong my blinders were about the depiction of Indian culture and British colonization of India, as well as the harm of the LGBTQ+ character as villain trope. I’m trying to do better with diversifying my reading and reading with a sensitive view to other groups’ experiences. The top rated review for this book on Goodreads provides a very good background and critique of the depictions in this book and is worth a read before reading. As a bookseller I try not to look at reviews before reading but with this one, I wish I had.
Shall I start with the cat? I hadn’t realized until the past year just how much I love a spectacular animal companion character in fiction books. We have Six-Thirty the dog in Lessons in Chemistry and in A Rogue of One’s Own, we have the magnificent queen cat, Boudicca. Boudicca is one of my absolute favorite historical figures and to see her included here, particularly in cat form, made my cat-mom heart very happy.
A Rogue of One’s Own follows the relationship between recent unexpected co-business owners Lucie and Tristan. Lucie is a prickly suffragette in danger of becoming a spinster (insert sarcastic gasp here) and Tristan is a disreputable rake. Or so it would seem, but we, of course dear readers, know that there’s much more to the story than that. We start with the suffragettes (the quartet from the first book, Lucie, Annabelle, Hattie & Catriona) buying a half share in a London printing press that just happens to be co-owned by our male hero, Tristan.
While Montgomery in the first book and Lucian in the third (review tomorrow) are some pretty aloof and reserved men, Tristan puts himself out on display for all to see. He’s straightforward and forthright with who he is and what he wants and I respect that. He and Lucie have known each other for years and that shared history greatly influences their interactions with each other. Lucie doesn’t respect him, but he respects Lucie and I respect him for that.
There are, of course, a number of subplots that serve to pull our lovers apart as tropes dictate they must, and this is where things get really dicey. It serves its purpose, but I, along with many other readers, wish that Evie had handled this part of the plot differently. But ultimately, it’s a witty and sharp read and I adore the prickly Lucie and majestic cat Boudicca and how their history with Tristan brings the whole story together.
Rating: 9 out of 10