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All art is unstable. It's meaning is not necessarily that implied by the author, There is no authorative active voice. There are only multiple readings. David Bowie, 1995

Thursday, February 13, 2014

a dearth of 'rogues' ____

When the Rogue Returns (The Duke's Men) by Sabrina Jeffries 

____unless your counting the villain and and the other ducal Manton investigators.
Talented maker of  artificial gems, Isabella is caught up in a plot to steal a betrothal diamonds necklace belonging to Dutch Royalty.
Masterminded by her brother-in-law, Gerhart, and sister Jacoba, Isabella is devastated to learn that her husband Victor Cale was part of the heist. Not only that, but he has deserted her.
Broken hearted she changes her identity and flees to Edinburg where she becomes a successful jeweller and business woman.  
Of course we find out that the truth is far from what she thought.
Her husband Victor, has also had a change fortunes. Once a soldier without family connections, he has since found out that he's a cousin to a Duke and has been welcomed back into the fold.
His new family runs an inquiry agency near Bow Street, Manton's Investigations. He undertakes to go to Edinburg to follow up a client's case, not the least because he realizes that the name of the woman he is to investigate is called Sofia Franke, the same surname as his mother. Is this coincidence?
Of course he finds Isabella, the woman who threw him over for a lucrative criminal life. 
The premise of the novel is great. Isabella's work as a maker of quality imitation stones is fascinating, but truthfully I found both lead characters somewhat flat. In the end, although there was a jewell heist, wicked protagonists, and romance I was just not drawn in. I am still wondering why 'Rogue' is in the title. Victor doesn't seem at all roguish to me. 
All in all Rogue Returns is disappointing despite having all the right elements; grand theft, intrigue, love and adventure.  There's just no 'wow' factor in the interaction between the main characters. They're all just a little too wooden. Still, the potential depth of this novel Inclines me to hope for promise realized in forthcoming titles. 

A NetGalley ARC

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