Book: “The Lady Rogue” by Jenn Bennett
Publication Info: Simon Pulse, September 2019
Where Did I Get this Book: Edelweiss+
Book Description: Traveling with her treasure-hunting father has always been a dream for Theodora. She’s read every book in his library, has an impressive knowledge of the world’s most sought-after relics, and has all the ambition in the world. What she doesn’t have is her father’s permission. That honor goes to her father’s nineteen-year-old protégé—and once-upon-a-time love of Theodora’s life—Huck Gallagher, while Theodora is left to sit alone in her hotel in Istanbul.
Until Huck arrives from an expedition without her father and enlists Theodora’s help in rescuing him. Armed with her father’s travel journal, the reluctant duo learns that her father had been digging up information on a legendary and magical ring that once belonged to Vlad the Impaler—more widely known as Dracula—and that it just might be the key to finding him.
Journeying into Romania, Theodora and Huck embark on a captivating adventure through Gothic villages and dark castles in the misty Carpathian Mountains to recover the notorious ring. But they aren’t the only ones who are searching for it. A secretive and dangerous occult society with a powerful link to Vlad the Impaler himself is hunting for it, too. And they will go to any lengths—including murder—to possess it.
Review: I’m always up for a good Vlad the Impaler story. Pair that with what sounds like a romping adventure and an Amelia-Peabody-like heroine, but a teenager, and this book seemed right up my alley. I know the author is a favorite romance author for many people, but I hadn’t read any of her stories previously, so I was excited to see what this one had in store!
For all of her father’s overprotective ways, Theodora finds herself suddenly alone in Eastern Europe and now, he’s the one in trouble and she’s the one tracking his trail. Good thing she’s been preparing for this moment for her entire life. Less good thing that her father’s protege, the irresistible and annoying Huck, is on the trail as well. Together, they discover that her father has gotten himself caught up in matter way above any of their pay grade and those responsible for his disappearance may now be after Theodora and Huck as well.
While this book wasn’t an absolute hit for me, it was still a quite fun read. The author has definitely mastered a witty, style of writing and the dialogue was definitely her strength. From the very first page, I was laughing at Theodora’s descriptions of the troubles she gets herself in. And once Huck shows up, their verbal sparring was on point. You can definitely see the author’s romance writing roots in this, as I’ve always found that the best romance books depend most on the the strong dialogue that pulls together the hero and heroine. Anyone can writing a steamy scene, but the heart of romance writing is the characters themselves since there isn’t a lot of plot, often. Thus, they have to have an amazing inner voice and repartee.
I also enjoyed the adventure and action of this book. The story takes off running and never really lets up on the gas. Mysterious strangers hunt them across multiple countries and even aboard the Orient Express. As the mystery about her father’s disappearance and his connection with the infamous Vlad the Impaler comes to light, I enjoyed seeing Theodora put her own unique skills to the test to rescue him.
Huck, on the other hand, never really landed for me. As I said, the dialogue and witty banter between him and Theodora was engaging from the beginning, but for his own part, he was kind of bland. It was hard to completely buy the connection between him and Theodora since it often came across as having come about simply due to proximity growing up, rather than any particularly unique bond between the two. He also had a habit of tipping a bit too far over the arrogant line from “charming” to “kind of rude.”
Really, the romance was my problem with this book. Maybe if I hadn’t known the author was a romance novelist, my expectations would have been adjusted. But I really just found myself wishing, as I went along, that this had just been a regular, old adult novel. Age up the characters by a few years, increase the romance, and boom! Fun book! As it was, it felt like the author was continuously pulling her punches and the story was wobbling along, crippled by the need to be YA.
I had a fun enough time reading this book. But by the end of it, I mostly remembered it for some witty banter and a few fun action pieces. Nothing wrong with that, but it didn’t capture me the way I wanted and it’s unfortunately the kind of story I enjoyed once but will probably easily forget I ever read. I am interested in checking out the author’s adult romances, however! Fans of the author will probably enjoy this and if you’re looking for a good beach read, this is the book for you!
Rating 7: A fun, but forgettable, ride.
“The Lady Rogue” is a new title so it isn’t on many relevant Goodreads books, but it should be on “Best Books Featuring Dracula.”
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