What a Rogue Desires by Caroline Linden
David Reece is determined to prove that he is not the wastrel that he has been his entire life, and he wants to make up for all the times his brother, the Duke of Exeter, had bailed him out of sticky situations. When the Duke goes on an extended honeymoon, David takes on the Exeter responsibilities including a signet ring his brother has made for him. On his way to London he and his fellow passengers are set upon by highwaymen and his signet ring is stolen from him. The beautiful widow Mrs. Gray, who had attracted David's attention on the beginning, turns out to be in league with the thieves and her job is to fence the stolen merchandise. But David has set out feelers to all the men in the business and it is not long before David is called in to apprehend "Mrs. Gray." David is shocked to discover her identify and even more so that she does not have the ring with her. He is furious, kidnaps her, and locks her up in his house. Mrs. Gray turns out to be Vivian Beechem and Vivien has been living with her brother, Simon, and a gang of thieves headed up by a bully named Flynn.
Needless to say she is not at all happy to find herself locked up in a strange man's house, but she has to admit that she is certainly liking having a full stomach, a warm house, and a nice soft, clean bed to sleep in every night. David finds that all his old rakish friends do not like his new respectability and that everyone in London is betting that he bankrupts his brother's estate. That leaves him with his unlikely house guest for company and he finds himself spending more and more time with Vivien. She tells him her life story and it is not long before he is no longer judging her for the choices she has made and getting back the ring seems almost unnecessary. He delights in taking her to plays and letting her experience all the different opportunities she'd never had before. But when Flynn begins to wear the ring during the robberies while claiming to be the Black Duke, suspicion falls on David. He and Vivien hatch a plan to track down Flynn, get the ring back, and save her brother Simon from a life of crime. This does not go quite as planned and at the end of the day the two end up having to save each other and move past society's rules to find happiness with each other.
I have to admit that I began to wonder if Stockholm Syndrome played a part in Vivian's learning to like David, as really the situation they found themselves in would have certainly leant itself to that. The book kind of skips over some time (most books do) and I wish it could have been more specific into how long she was locked up before he also started taking her into the real world. I didn't hate the kidnap/ lock her up plot as much as I feel like I should have. I guess the nice amenities that came with it kind of made up for it, although I do know that I should say it was horrible and wrong. However it was really enjoyable to read about the joy David found in making Vivien happy: he absolutely loved seeing her face light up at plays, when she said something clever, when she had fun reading a novel, and when she called him on his theatrics. Given where she had grown up Vivien had absolutely no problem telling David straight to his face when he was being self-pitying and needed to get over it. The sex was really good and quite hot, even really spicy at one point, but I wish there had been more build up to it and more of it throughout the book.
The stolen ring plot was very well integrated into the story- it really was the reason for the two for them coming together in the first place really. It did not overpower the romance and the developing relationship between Vivien and David even it really did help to shape it. My problem with this plot was the plan the two of them came up with the capture Flynn and get the ring back: it was really quite ridiculous and made me really wish characters in romance novels would just let the authorities handle things on their own. Basically it was a dumb plan and really it was only a miracle it worked out. I also really enjoyed that David told all of his servants that he was "saving" Vivien from a life of crime as part of his Christian duty to cover up his kidnapping her. It was one of many rather funny parts of this book. After reading "What a Gentleman Wants" I knew I had to read the rest of the books in the series and I am really pleasantly surprised that Linden manages to work Marcus and Hannah's happiness into the story without having the book become a homage to her past works.
Rating: I really enjoyed this book, but I really felt as though there was something lacking in it- I wish there had been more emotion really. I think the book deserves 3 1/2 but I'll give it a three b/c it was not as good as her previous work.