Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Advanced Review: Much Ado About Rogues by Kasey Michaels (5 stars, historical)
Full Description: Amazon
Rating: 5 out of 5
Thoughts After Reading:
Let me preface this review by saying, as a rule, I dismiss all romances that have an "old flame" storyline. With few exceptions, they are much too angsty for my liking and the characters are basically in love with each other from the beginning. Despite this, I found myself utterly enthralled with the story of Much Ado About Rogues - an interpretation of such a plot by Michaels. And I think I have figured out how she writes such engaging novels: it's not just her unique brand of humor, of which there was only a shadow present in this latest work. Rather, she combines excellent writing with an extraordinary ability of characterization. In the forward of Much Ado About Rogues, she claims that her characters take on lives of their own. I'm going to have to take her word for it, because I'm at a loss how else to describe how she writes such complex characters. In the final book of the "Blackthorn Brothers" series, Michaels ties in a vast backstory revolving around the hero and heroine with the overarching storyline concerning all three brothers. And the way in which the characters think, act, and react as the story unfolds is simply impressive.
I can't explain too much of story in Much Ado About Rogues without spoiling it. With a book that focuses on an "old love" romance heavily interwoven with an intrigue storyline, it is the reader's unraveling of the story that makes the book truly worth reading. I will say, however, that nearly everything is connected to the heroine's father. The hero describes him at one point as "the most confounding clever yet conscienceless man he'd ever known." And that basically sums up the man: he's extremely intelligent and adept at the machinations expected of a spy or assassin, and yet he's dedicated to a passion that leaves little room for caring about other human beings. The heroine is her father's daughter in the sense that she too is drawn to intrigue and puzzles, and yet she has a far greater capacity for love than her father. Several years before the book begins, the hero began his tutelage under the father working (in some ways) for the Crown. The hero and heroine fell into a passionate, romantic form of love, until events turn them against each other (partially orchestrated by the father). For the next four years the hero continues working with the Crown separately, joining a group that essentially enact assassinations. The hero comes back into the heroine's life when the heroine's father turns up missing, and the adventure seeped with intrigue begins. The couple hurry to fully uncover the plot, all the while reconciling issues of forgiveness and understanding. I found the conclusion to the romance plot to be immensely satisfying, and the same was true for the final conclusion to the entire series.
Looking back at all three novels in the Blackthorn Brothers series, it was The Taming of the Rake that best embodies what I look for in a romance, namely a good but lighthearted storyline with some great humor. It was Much Ado About Rogues, however, that seemed to be Kasey Michaels' masterpiece of the series; the book that led the reader on an emotional rollercoaster and thereby allowed for some of the best resolutions I have ever read.
This review is based on an ARC copy I received on NetGalley, thanks to a publisher who is obviously awesome.