by Katharine Ashe combines romance and action, creating a
thrilling plot. It allows the reader to understand important
issues of the time period while exploring the age-old struggle
of trust and honesty within a mystery.
Besides writing Ashe also noted, "I have been an associate
professor at Duke University since 2007, specializing in Medieval
Religious History. I also teach a course on romance fiction
that combines history, literature, creative writing, and business
entrepreneurship. I am able to combine my love for teaching
and writing. Instead of writing academic books I write historical
romance novels surrounding some mystery."
The story opens with a young debutante, Lady Constance Reed,
falling for a handsome rogue, Evan Saint-André Sterling.
Yet, because of their class standing nothing comes of it until
six years later. Saint, a master swordsman, is asked by Constance's
father to teach her how to fence for her own self-defense.
The plot goes into a lot of detail on how to hold a dagger,
how to move, where and when to strike, but that does not bog
the story down, and actually enhances it. Although Constance
has been chosen to wed a Duke, the passion between she and
Saint puts her in a compromising position. After the Duke
withdraws his offer seeing himself in an embarrassing situation,
Constance bargains with her father to let her marry Saint,
a "nobody," who is neither rich nor titled. They
must overcome Constance's desire to build a wall in their
relationship because she was physically abused and raped.
In addition, now a married couple, they work together, to
find evidence against the Duke, the primary suspect, who they
believe to be responsible for a girl's murder and other kidnappings.
This adventure story is billed as the opening novel in Ashe's
latest series, The Devil's Duke, but is intertwined with the
previous three books in her Falcon series. The Falcon books
should be read first to gain the backstory on the characters.
The Rogue has a back and forth between Colin Gary, aka Peregrine,
and a popular London issue based pamphleteer, Lady Justice,
who will also be the hero and heroine of Ashe's next book,
The author explained the character's backstory, "Peregrine
and Lady Justice have been exchanging letters. She is a journalist
who is trying to find the real purpose and identity of the
Falcon Club. Lady Justice and Colin Gray whose code name is
Peregrine have been trading correspondence and debating over
women's issues, specifically a woman's marital status. They
have a "frenemy" relationship. But in the next book
they will end up as lovers."
She further stated, "I named each of The Falcon Club
members after birds that reflected a character's qualities.
Eagle is a Scotsman; Seahawk a pirate; Raven, retrieves missing
people; Colin is Peregrine; and Constance is Sparrow. When
I first started writing the series I imagined a door of the
Falcon Club and its knocker was in the shape of a Falcon head."
The main issue Lady Justice explores is women's rights in
the 1820s. In today's world people tend to forget that women
in England, except the Queen, had no rights. Once married
they lost their legal identity as the husband gained control
over her property, income, and even her body and children.
This is brought home in the quote, "Marriage does not
bestow upon a woman a devotee. It shackles her to a prison
A good novel will allow readers to learn something within
a good story. In this case people are reminded that women
in the 1800s were not treated as equals. Ashe noted, "I
am a historian at heart and find the struggle for rights fascinating.
That is why I put in the book the quote from Lady Justice,
'Even the sacred vows instruct a woman to love, cherish, and
obey while a man must only love and cherish.' When a woman
weds in the 1820s the Law of England places her income, belongings,
and her entire body in the possession of her husband. She
has no power or authority over her money, property, and children.
This is something I will go into more detail in my next book,
including a woman's inability to legally leave her husband.
In order for her to do that she had to prove her husband not
just an adulterer, but also that he was participating in beastiality
She further explained why the intimate love scenes, "There
is less sex than most TV shows. My style is to write a love
story set in historically 19th century that has a happily
ever after. The characters have their own conflicts, values,
and challenges. Two people must overcome the conflicts between
them, and learn to communicate in many different ways. A fellow
writer said, 'Sex is the way that a hero and heroine communicate
their relationship and feelings to each other.' The physical
communication is one of the most profound ways a man and a
woman can share and give to the other person."
The characters are well developed. Lady Constance is independent,
beautiful, and smart while at the same time has major vulnerabilities.
Saint is a very honorable man, a former soldier, someone of
few words who will go to great lengths to help Constance to
trust again. He is protective, kind, and sacrifices his own
feelings in trying to have Constance overcome her demons.
The Rogue moves at a quick pace. Although this novel
has some dark undertones, these bring a depth to the story.
The ingredients of intrigue, danger, secrets, and passion
along with some historical facts, make for an enjoyable read.
of other titles by Katharine Ashe
Away by a Kiss
By A Rogue Lord
The Arms of a Marquess
Rogue (devil's duke #1)
Earl (devil's duke #2)
Duke (devil's duke #3)
Prince (devil's duke #4)