When the Rogue Returns: A Book Review

WARNING: This book review may contain spoilers. (Oh, those pesky things!)

So I’ve been reading…a lot.

Really, what’s a girl to do when she keeps receiving goodies from booksellers in the mail? I really feel like I need to give a special shout out to Chapters/Indigo for sending me a gift card, which I then used to buy a copy of Sabrina Jeffries’ latest masterpiece, When the Rogue Returns.

Victor Cale never imagined his sweet, shy wife, Isabella, would use her talent for creating exquisite imitation jewels for criminal pursuits. But there’s no denying it was Isa’s handiwork that turned up in the brazen heist of the Dutch royal family’s diamonds after she disappeared into the night.

Ten years later, still reeling from her betrayal and enraged that her duplicitous side was so undetectable, the sexy investigator heads to Edinburgh, where his cousin Maximilian has landed him a job tailing a wealthy baron’s bride-to-be. Simple enough—until the “fiancée” in question proves to be Isa, masquerading as an alluringly eligible young widow.

No longer the meek and mild girl he once knew, the bold woman vehemently asserts that it was Victor who abandoned her. Piecing together the past to prove Isa’s innocence reawakens a volatile passion, hotter than ever. With a decade of secrets between them, Victor and Isa must trust each other in order to bring the scheming thieves to justice–without getting burned themselves.

Of course, I also have to mention that Ms. Jeffries was cruel enough to bait me with a 40-page preview of the novel, but then withhold the rest for a good 6 months before release date. How did she expect me to survive when the last lines I read before a 6-month blackout were:

With her back to him, Isa froze. 

Good. He hoped he’d thrown her into a panic. He was looking forward to seeing her alarm at being caught, after all these years. Or better yet, worried about what vengeance the husband she’d betrayed might mete out.

She began to turn toward him slowly, as if in a dream. He just had time to glimpse the porcelain skin, full lips, and other sweet features he’d found so compelling nearly ten years ago, when her gaze met his. 

To his shock, it was ablaze with fury. 

Yes, dear readers, for 6 whole months, Ms. Jeffries left me hanging with the thoughts – “OMG! What’s Victor going to do? What is Isabella going to do? WHAT AM I GOING TO DO?!” – rolling around in my head. Worst of all, I was sworn to secrecy and, therefore, couldn’t discuss my inner turmoil with anyone.

And I had thought, as one of her precious street team members, Ms. Jeffries would not play such cruel games with my heart.

But I digress…

I eventually was given the opportunity to read When the Rogue Returns – I read it on release day in fact – but I was unable to post my review, due in part that I was still reeling from the emotional, action-packed thrill ride that is the novel.

When the Rogue Returns was all about second chances. Isa and Victor have to learn to work together despite the fact that they each feel the other betrayed them ten years ago – the readers, of course, know this wasn’t what happened but Isa and Victor have to work through their misconceptions together. It doesn’t help the fact that ten years ago both Isa and Victor were very young and vulnerable to the manipulations of those around them. Isa grew up in the ten years after Victor “abandoned” her and has made a home for her and her daughter in Edinburgh. Victor, on the other hand, thinks his wife is a con-artist and refuses to let himself trust her.

I think the best part of this novel is that Isa and Victor learn to communicate for the sake of their daughter. And it helps that both of the characters have matured in their ten years apart, and grown into their own identities, enough to realize that in reality events are not always black and white. For Isa and Victor, the ten year separation was a good thing because when you see the characters reunite after the prologue, they are both strong enough to stand their own ground and smart enough to admit their faults.

That said, I nearly died from all the things Ms. Jeffries made me feel, such as the intensity of the “I want to punch Victor!” emotions and the “Why, Isabella, why?!” torment.

Only, apparently, torturing me through the novel wasn’t enough because Ms. Jeffries left a sneak peek at the end of the book for Tristan’s novel, How the Scoundrel Seduces and she’s making me wait until August to read it – of course, she blames the delay on her publisher but we all know who the real culprit is. 😉

Rika Ashton

(aka The Much Tormented)

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