Suzanne Enoch is a fabulous writer and some of my absolute favorite historical romances have been written by her, namely London's Perfect Scoundrel and Always a Scoundrel, with close second favorites being England's Perfect Hero, By Love Undone, and After the Kiss. Needless to say, I was ecstatic about this book coming out and expected it to join my "all-time favorite" bookshelf - it won't, and frankly, I'm considering whether to post it on PaperBack Swap right away, because I doubt that I will want to reread this.
The Care and Taming of a Rogue (The Adventurers Club, Book 1) wasn't bad in the sense that I didn't actively dislike it, but in almost every aspect it either fell short or just didn't click; it was boring and I was at times somewhat tempted to just put it down and forget about it. The premise was an interesting one and quite original, and I'm always a huge fan of books where the heroine is overlooked, shy, bookish, unusual, whatever. Plus, taking into account it's written by Enoch, it should be a natural five-star book, right? Wrong: THE CARE AND TAMING OF A ROGUE did not live up to my expectations. Both of the main characters were pretty forgettable, their relationship is not compelling and I never really understood how they got together or why they felt (or even THAT they felt) so strongly about one another, and the chemistry just wasn't there (which starkly contrasts with some of Enoch's other books).
Both Bennett (29) and Phillipa (20) felt somewhat flat and one-dimensional. Bennett is supposed to be this "uncivilized explorer" who won't obey any of London society's "rules" and wants to drag his woman back to his cave ... and although we're told this repeatedly and other characters constantly describe him this way, it didn't really ring true. Yes, he was blustery and aggressive, but it ended up just being annoying and not at all endearing, adventurous, bad-boy-attractive, or any other positive thing; he wasn't as unconventional as he was made out to be (an example of where that type of unconventional adventurer-hero was well done and *did* work is Christina Dodd's Rules of Surrender).
Phillipa is a nice heroine, but nothing to write home about. We're told that she's practical and logical ... but I didn't see that emphasized very much (there was no resemblance to someone like Dr. Brennan from the TV show "Bones," who is definitely an extreme of those two adjectives). She's also supposed to be unconventional in her own way - embracing her "bluestocking" tendencies, completely bookish and somewhat anti-social (though friendly) - yet she insists on Bennett courting her according to the rules and keeps placing emphasis on teaching him how to behave in London society (no such teaching really occurs) ... while then going in broad daylight to the house he's staying in and making love for the first time with him in a kitchen larder (umm, can you say unromantic?).
Then there is their relationship, which seemed completely unsubstantiated to me and so was hard to believe. Basically he hears her voice - is attracted to her, sees her face - likes how she looks, remarks on her smelling of lemons - oh how nice, and bam! they're off. We know that Phillipa already has a little thing for Bennett in that she has been an admirer of his travel/adventure books, but why this romantic interest in Phillipa in particular? We're never really shown why he is THE ONE for her and she is THE ONE for him. [Sidenote: Why is it that aside from our heroines (and whatever friends they may have) almost all the other women in these novels are nitwit chits who only giggle, simper, and are catty when it comes to men??? Even Flip's sister, Olivia, kind of falls into this category - at least for the first two adjectives.] Bennett and Phillipa are both nice people, sure, but I just don't see why their relationship takes off so quickly, with no trouble going from hello to kisses to making love to declaring love to talking about marriage (though actually that happens before some of those other ones) ... which brings me to another point ...
There are no obstacles in their romantic relationship!!! Well save one, to be fair, which was in fact a good one: she likes to stay at home and read, he's Mr. Adventure, so how is a real, lasting relationship (i.e. marriage) going to work for them? This was an interesting twist because it was a real consideration that is similar to the problems that nowaday long-distance relationships face. However during the book it isn't really dissected, just mentioned repeatedly and put aside; then in the end, it's resolved very nicely and quickly (TOO nicely and quickly). Other than that though, which wasn't even fully explored, any hurdles placed by themselves or other characters were either completely missing or not very substantial. I *HATE* books that have those big misunderstandings or throw obstacle after obstacle in front of the main characters for no apparent reason, but can't there be a happy balance between those two extremes??
Finally, the whole "Adventurers' Club" was a little ridiculous and when that's first introduced in the beginning of the book my reaction was "What? This seems very contrived ... Maybe it's going to be made into a series?" ... Which I then discovered it is. I don't understand the purpose of the club, don't see it's use or understand how it works or why it exists, etc. - basically it's all a huge contrivance.
I feel very bad about giving such a negative review for a Suzanne Enoch book, but I was so disappointed! She has such talent and has written other novels that literally have me going to sleep with a smile on my face and waking up the next morning wanting to read the book all over again; THE CARE AND TAMING OF A ROGUE in no way compares to those books. There were some funny moments, some sweet ones, Kero (Bennett's pet monkey) was a great addition, but check it out from the library if you're set on reading it, don't buy it.