"A Rogue's Promise" has two very strong points in its favour: 1) it possesses a really appealing heroine, and 2) the romance subplot (which actually is the primary storyline) is a really strong and endearing one. However, it also suffered from one huge flaw that might make some avid Regency romance buffs wince -- Peggy Waide's prose style (unfortunately) does need some polishing -- it was a bit too modern and Americanized, and after a while this really jarred. However, if you're not too much of a stickler, I can assure you with some certainty that this novel will chain and entertain.
Lady Joanna Fenton is in a bind. Her feckless brother, Randolph is missing along with a priceless Chinese statue. Because of Fentons precarious financial situation (Randolph seems to have a gambling habit, and their mother is busy spending money they don't have on a Season for younger sister, Penelope), Joanna has decided to auction off the statue. With the date of the auction drawing closer, and with Randolph and the statue missing, Joanna doesn't know which way to turn or what to do. (On top of it all Joanna has begun receiving threatening messages on Randolph's behalf.) So that when a friend recommends that she hire adventurer MacDonald Archer to help her locate the missing statue, Joanna eagerly seeks the man out. What she didn't count on was that Archer would revive in her all her old dreams of love, desire, marriage and children. And unbelievably, Archer seems to find her (plain, ordinary Joanna) fascinating and desirable too. Should she believe this adventurer's sweet words? But with time running out and the Fentons' fortunes on the line, Joanna has no time for daydreams and dalliance. Or does she?
The mystery subplot was pretty much the usual fare -- so don't expect too much from it. What really made this novel memorable was that the romance subplot dominated. Far too often novels such as "A Rogue's Promise" focuses more on the mystery/spy subplot. The romance subplot than degenerates to some really graphic sex scenes in which the romantic element is either totally absent or lacking. Fortunately, this was not the case with this novel. Peggy Waide made the effort to paint a romance plot that was both sensual and romantic and her effort is paid off in spades! Another thing that I really liked about this novel was Waide's portrayal of the book's heroine, Lady Joanna Fenton. Joanna is the kind of heroine that most will find easy to empathise with and approve of. In spite of the fact that she's been reduced to being her family's unpaid housekeeper and accountant, that her family quite frequently takes her for granted, and that her dreams of falling in love and marrying have been shattered, Joanna is not someone who sits about the place feeling maudlin and sorry for herself. She's not someone who acts and behaves like a martyr either. (There is a wonderful scene a few chapters from the end between Joanna and her brother. I won't reveal the details of this scene so as not to spoil it but I mentally cheered). Indeed, she's a wonderful mix of sense and vulnerability. And I couldn't help but root for her to have it all!
I rather liked "A Rogues' Promise" in spite of its prose style. It niggled, but I managed to overlook it (more or less). And if you can do the same, well then I cannot recommend this novel heartily enough.