Title: The Rogue Not Taken
Series: Scandal & Scoundrel, #1
Author: Sarah MacLean
Publisher: Avon Books
Source: Gift (from Erin)
Rating: 5 Sugar Cubes
Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound
Summary: The youngest of the infamous Talbot sisters scandalized society at the Liverpool Summer Soiree, striking her sister’s notoriously philandering husband and landing him backside-first in a goldfish pond. And we thought Sophie was the quiet one…
When she finds herself the target of very public aristocratic scorn, Sophie Talbot does what she must to escape the city and its judgment—she flees on the back of a carriage, vowing never to return to London…or to society. But the carriage isn’t saving her from ruin. It’s filled with it.
The Marquess of Eversley was espied descending a rose trellis—escaping an irate Earl and his once-future countess. No lady is safe from Eversley’s Engagement Ending Escapades!
Kingscote, the Marquess of Eversley, has never met a woman he couldn’t charm, a quality that results in a reputation far worse than the truth, a furious summons home, and a long, boring trip to the Scottish border. When King discovers stowaway Sophie, however, the trip becomes anything but boring.
He thinks she’s trying to trick him into marriage. She wouldn’t have him if he were the last man on earth. But carriages bring close quarters, dark secrets, and unbearable temptation, and suddenly opposites are altogether too attractive…
(Taken from Goodreads)
Review: So, I usually find myself walking away from a Sarah MacLean book in quiet contentment but this one…this one was perfection! I always enjoy her books but I don’t often get to say I’m madly in love with them.
In the first book in her new series, Scandal & Scoundrel, the story opens up and follows the five Talbot sisters, whose names all begin with “S” and are known throughout high society as the “Soiled S’s” or “Dangerous Daughters.” Their father is a wealthy coal miner who purchased himself an Earldom and with this new status and money comes gossip and scandal for the sisters. All of whom embrace it except for our main heroine, Sophie. Sophie is the youngest of the five sisters and unlike the rest of them does not welcome the blatant public ridicule and disdain. She is often referred to as the sister which scandal avoided. This is a title she is happy to live with until she pushes her sister’s husband, the Duke of Haven, into a pond in front of the whole assembly after she finds him trying to seduce another woman. (Seriously, I want this girl as my sister.)
Once this happens all hell breaks loose and the book is off on a very grand adventure that doesn’t allow you to stop for even a second. As Sophie tries to sneak out of the party and avoid all those who have just witnessed her rather demoralizing social demise, she is quite literally set upon by our hero, Kingscote “King”, the Marquess of Eversely, as he descends from a rose trellis two stories above her. In a flutter of clothing, a yelling fiancé, and one very happy woman our two main characters meet.
This is where the stories main conflict is born, with those dastardly misconceptions. They size one another up – each assuming something wrong about the other – and the tension sky-rockets from there. Sophie tries to get King to take her home in his carriage so she does not have to stay at the party for one more second. King, who presumably has no empathy for her situation, refuses.
Then brave, brave Sophie bribes his footman into giving her his livery and she hops onto the back of Kings carriage in the hopes of getting home with ease, only to find herself traveling outside of London into the countryside. As all of this is happening, I found myself chortling with glee. Sophie’s narration of the situation is hysterical. Her dilemma and the way she handles herself is nothing if not commendable. Once King finds out he has a stow away, the rest of the story is filled with their ridiculous banter as they cavort around the countryside and make their way to Cumbria – Sophie’s hometown and the location of King’s family estate, where King’s father is presumably dying. (Coincidence? I think noooot…)
King is a very complex character, whose layers get revealed as you travel with him. You find out there are many emotions beneath the surface of our hero, and of course, he has a tragic past when it comes to love. (But what hero doesn’t?) He is a great contrast to Sophie! It was quite adorable that his main reason for turning around and deciding to help her was to make sure she gets safely to her hometown. (Who doesn’t want a man who just wants to protect you?)
What I liked most though was that the author managed to not only turn this book into one epic road trip, but to create a situation where two people have to learn more about each other than they ever expected. There is some excellent character development in the book. The focus on the two main characters really offers a layered element to their back stories and emotional states that ends up making their romance seem extremely real. Their story doesn’t get lost in a million other little scenes that were added just for filler. Their depth is created by their interactions, which is how it should be in my opinion.
My only complaint with the story is that there are some very obvious, albeit minor, romance novel tropes in the book. Especially, when it comes to King and his father. (I’ve read some other reviews who have all said the same thing.) I won’t put any spoilers in here, but it can be quite teeth grinding when they pop up. They are so miniscule in comparison to the rest of the story however, that they do not hinder it in anyway.
Overall, I’d say this book is brilliant. It’s a rather refreshing romance novel that I would highly recommend to anyone who is interested in the genre. Absolutely go check it out!