Thursday, September 12, 2019

Lorraine Heath - Once More, My Darling Rogue

Born to the street but raised within the aristocracy, Drake Darling can’t escape his sordid beginnings. Not when Lady Ophelia Lyttleton snubs him at every turn, a constant reminder he’s not truly one of them. But after rescuing her from a mysterious drowning he realizes she doesn’t remember who she is. With plans to bring her to heel, he insists she’s his housekeeper—never expecting to fall for the charming beauty.
While Ophelia might not recall her life before Drake, she has little doubt she belongs with him. The desire she feels for her dark, brooding employer can’t be denied, regardless of consequences. So when her memory returns, she is devastated by the depth of his betrayal. Now Drake must risk everything to prove she can trust this rogue with her heart once more.

Comment: This is the second installment in the Scandalous Gentlemen of St James, a series by Lorraine Heath I intend on reading going through a book a month.
The first installment wasn't very exciting (to me) to red but I had hopes for this one, since it seemed the protagonists would have a love-hate relationship and I'm always eager to see this type of story developing until I'm convinced with the HEA.

In this book we have the story of Peter Sykes, one of the young characters we've met in the series connected to this, featuring the parents of some of the characters that will have stories in this sequel series. Peter was adopted by Frannie and Sterling, the protagonists of one of the books of that previous series.
He has become Drake Darling in respect to the couple that welcomed him and treated him as one of their own. Drake has been part of the aristocracy world but he knows very well how many still think of him despite the obvious love and care of his family and those they are friends with.
One of the people who gets on his nerves has been his sister's Grace's friend, Ophelia "Phee" Lyttleton. She seems to snub at every opportunity and he sometimes fights back which means they do bicker quite a lot. However, one night, he finds Ophelia almost drowned and helps her by taking her to his lodgings.
When she wakes up without some of her memories, he decides to get his revenge by telling her she is his housekeeper but, of course, he didn't count on liking who she is so much behind her cool and public persona...

This was a better book than the previous one for me. The amnesia trope isn't one I tend to enjoy much because usually the conflict comes from the reveal and sometimes that's not very well done. It's not as if it matters much to me but I admit I like other types of plots better.
In this book, the amnesia situation felt too oddly done and I felt it was only a tool for the main characters to spend time without their mutual dislike to be in the way but it worked out in the end anyway.

In the first chapters, even before the heroine's amnesia became the driving force of the romance, I was already a little irked with the fact the hero didn't consider himself worthy of the family who loves him. I can totally understand the psychology of this thinking but to be honest it can be a bit tiring to read about a situation he couldn't change (his childhood circumstances) and if he was ans is loved by those of his current family, he should honor those feelings and not feel apart from them.

Thankfully, things improve as he takes Ophelia to his house and tries to joke with her. Not that I found this to be a great behavior of his but he did think she wasn't serious the first time she said it and he had the intention of taking her home the day after so she wouldn't be found in a compromising situation. Their romance developed then, in a very sweet manner. I think the author was quite obvious in her attempt to show us how they matched and suited one another with the scenes of their conversations and bonding over mundane things.

Peter, now Drake, is a fascinating character with all his likely psychological issues to deal with but his heroine Ophelia even more. What a pity the amnesia trope was used here but I get this was an easy way for her to be a likable heroine and not just the irritating one we've seen in the first chapter.
The more we learned about her, the more complex she became. I did like how her character was developed and presented but the fact she had a "arrogant mask" felt a bit too much considering what she went through.
As one can imagine, the romance between them was sweet and had interesting moments but I only liked them as a couple for real closer to he end, when they both had to think about the time they spent together before she got her memory back.

The best thing about this book for me were the small but clear thoughts both Ophelia and Drake had about their lives and the important things they have and should be glad for. Although these details are interwoven with the plot moves, it still made me happy to see their feelings run deep and not just the ones they had for one another. I especially liked how Drake finally thought and looked at his family and felt genuinely happy he had them.
This has some emotional content I appreciated but it's not always perfect. 
The hero of the next story has even darker stuff in his emotions to deal with, I already bet he will be complicated to admit he deserves happiness...
Grade: 7/10

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