Ever since she and her younger sisters washed ashore after a tragic shipwreck, Eleanor Caulfield has been the perfect daughter: prim, proper, well-behaved and responsible. She’s been an ideal young lady – and she’s tired of it. With her sisters and her adopted father now married, Eleanor longs for an adventure like the ones she’s read about in books. Enter Taliesin Wolfe. Once Eleanor’s constant companion in childhood, Taliesin left home 11 years ago and never looked back. But now, a quest to uncover the truth about Eleanor’s birth parents will set both of them off on an eye-opening journey. Both Eleanor and Taliesin have secrets and uncovering them may reveal what others have known for years: they’re made for each other.
I Loved a Rogue is the final book in Katharine Ashe’s Prince Catchers trilogy, and as such, it pulls together all the threads and hints from the previous two books in revealing the truth behind the Caulfield sisters’ parentage. The tone and feel of I Love A Rogue is a bit different from the previous two novels; there is a lot more rain and wind-swept moors with gloomy manor houses. But it works wonderfully with the discovery of answers and the pay-off of Ashe’s carefully planned story. The ring with the mysterious symbol, the Gypsy woman’s prediction that one sister would marry a prince, even the presence of certain characters – all come together to form a deeply satisfying happy ending for all the sisters, but mostly for Eleanor and Taliesin.
Romance novels come in many forms, and one of my favorite themes and tropes is the idea of unrequited love realized. Eleanor and Tailesin’s relationship practically defines the phrase “romantic tension” and their delicate back-and-forth dance consumes most of the novel. It can be difficult at times to watch them come so far only to be dragged apart again (there is, after all, only so much longing and heartbreak a romance reader can stand), but I was especially impressed by Ashe’s ability to craft an engaging novel based almost entirely on misunderstandings and confusion. Such stories can sometimes feel repetitive and manipulative (especially when you just know the hero and heroine belong together). Ashe, however, has created a story with just the right pace and just the right number of reasonably plausible explanations for Eleanor and Taliesin’s separation. And, of course, that makes their inevitable reunion all the more sweeter.
Though the mystery of the Caulfield sisters’ parents felt secondary to me as a reader (I’m here for the romance, people), the conclusion to that particular plot was still quite entertaining and incredibly well researched. The complicated, interwoven relationships between many of the characters did require some flowcharts (yes, I write flowcharts for my novels sometimes. I’m a nerd like that) and the pace of the last third of the novel is almost dizzying with the number of revelations flying. But there’s also the slightest sense of magic in the way Eleanor and Taliesin came together as children and then adults, in the larger context of their parents’ stories. With the Gypsy fortune that started the series off, it’s enough to make you believe in destiny.
I had a few minor quibbles with I Loved A Rogue (I personally could have done without Robin Prince’s character and some of Eleanor and Taliesin’s arguments could have simply be solved by being honest), but overall, this book was a wonderful and satisfying conclusion to the series. And should she ever decide to, I think Katharine Ashe would have eager audiences for a prequel starring Eleanor and Tailesin’s parents. (Without giving anything away – there’s so much going on there!). I Loved A Rogue is an excellent addition to the Katharine Ashe oeuvre and a pleasure to read.
Disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
[Photo Credit: Goodreads]