The Care and Taming of a Rogue by Suzanne Enoch
Captain Bennett Wolfe has returned from a three year excursion in Africa to find that everyone believes he is dead. His second in command had stolen all his journals and notes, left him for date, and published a very one-sided account of what happened in African using said notes and journals. Needless to say Bennett is not happy but his friends, Jack Clancy and the Duke of Sommerset, quickly inform him of the benefits of at least pretending to play nice until he can really prove his allegations. He finds this idea ridiculous until he finds that spending time in the company of one Phillipa Eddison may be just what he needs to district himself from the injustice of what has happened. Unfortunately Bennett has had little experience in polite company and Phillipa is far from pleased when he boldly announces that he wants to see her naked. Bennett realizes he needs to court this level headed beauty who has somehow gone unnoticed standing in the shadow of her blonde and vivacious sister. Unfortunately he has little knowledge as to how to go about this and his first attempts are miserable failures- until Phillipa decides to help him along.
Everyone in town thinks that Bennett is one step away from being a savage jungle man and his reputation is not helped by bringing his monkey, Kero, along with him everywhere or by the way his first step in courtship is to bring Phillipa two dozen red roses. Despite her insistence on a typical courtship Phillipa does not last long when Bennett is intent on seducing her and her capitulation is the only real reason why Bennett decides to go along with said courtship. However while everything may be going along smoothly in the romance department Bennett is becoming increasingly frustrating with the way the Africa Association continues to believe that David Langley wrote those books and does even bother to demand the journals he supposedly kept. Despite his insistence that she not bother herself Phillipa volunteers to help Bennett by going undercover and trying to discover the journals, which were really written by Bennett and will prove that David definitely did not write that book, for Bennett. The real climax comes as out characters look like they are about to have their happily ever after and both of them need to discover if either of them can step outside their comfort zone and try something new- for the one they love.
I enjoyed reading this book but not exactly as much as I thought I would when I was first introduced to the characters. Obviously the beginning is very intriguing and I did realize that I would become heavily invested in having David Langley revealed as a thief, liar, and perjerer, and that held true through the whole book. Unfortunately this did get in the way as there were fairly large sections of the book where this plot was put on the back burner and I found myself really wanting them to get back to it. So I really was much more interested in that than in the romance. But there was an element of the romance plot that I really enjoyed. Many romance novels that feature adventuresome heroes have him settle down to a staid life at the end and it really is not discussed much during the book. Here- what will happen when/ if Phillipa and Bennett happen- is a matter of great concern to both of them as Bennett does want to travel but he knows he wants to be with Phillipa and not risk her safety in the wilds, while Phillipa is rather fearful of travel but does not want to be the woman who steals away from Bennett something that he truly loves.
There was a decent amount of steam in the book and Bennett was definitely very desperate to get into Phillipa's bed and I like that we knew it was not just because he had been without female companionship for so long. However it was a little weird when he compared her appearance and full dressing with the bare-breasted women of Africa. I really like that the book set up a comparison between Bennett, who is supposedly so savage, with Langley who is supposed to be the sophisticated English gentleman and they do this quite skillfully by sharing that Langley has an extensive collection of stuffed animals. As far as romantic development went the book was a little lacking. At their first meeting Bennett knew that he liked Phillipa immediately because she was different; a bluestocking who liked to read and did not overly concern herself with her appearance and did not chatter endlessly about nonsense. After that there really is not much change in how they view each other; Phillipa thinks of Bennett as the great adventurer and she is the overlooked beauty with a brain. I would have liked some real issues to come up with them and maybe for them to spend some time together not about Langley or the journals.
Rating: I certainly enjoyed the revenge plot but really found absolutely nothing special in the romance department at all.