“When we allow ourselves to abandon the rules we’ve been taught to adhere to…we open ourselves to new experiences and a freedom that cannot exist as long as we let ourselves be restricted.”– Emily
This book has been a hard one to review. I found myself alternately captivated and frustrated throughout the majority of the story. The inconsistency between a forward thinking Emily, who was revolutionary for her time, and a deeply insecure Emily who continuously made incorrect assumptions about others made this book hard to rate. For this reason, I have decided to rate it 3.5 stars as despite my frustrations I still found myself looking forward to a HEA for Emily and Griffin.
More than a Rogue is about a spinster named Emily; an independent, opinionated and compassionate woman who is not in the business of finding a husband. Stubborn about her ability to take care of herself, after having been involved in a scandal six years’ prior with Lord Langdon, Emily is a very competent woman for her time and position in society. Her spinster lifestyle was caught up in chaos however, when she was caught kissing Lord Crawford at the first ball of the season. In an attempt to escape a forced marriage at the hands of her mother and Aunt, Emily flees to the country Clearview house. Emily’s efforts are in vain however, as Lord Griffin Crawford follows her to provide protection on their journey to Clearview. As an unlikely pair, Emily and Griffin partake in a slow-burn romance over the ensuing weeks.
“God, he wanted to kiss her right now. He wanted to taste the raindrops on her face and feel the drenched fabric of her gown bunched in his hands as he pulled her against him.”– Griffin
While I found Emily to be a surprising character, she was my least favourite in the book and that made it somewhat a tough read. Throughout the story we experience the struggle Emily has with following the rules that propriety dictates of her while suppressing her inner curiosity and desires. Barnes raises awareness of the inequalities between men’s and women’s knowledge of carnality during the time, as well as their societal acceptance to partake in it. Emily conveys her displeasure of this in the book:
“Are you really able to imagine what it is like to be six and twenty years old and not have experienced kissing? …Men are able to learn about these aspects of life without anyone caring one way or the other. Indeed, they are expected to do so and more.”– Emily
Despite my love of Emily’s independence, the issue I had with her was that at times she was hypocritical in her judgement of others despite her hearty disapproved of others forming incorrect opinions on her status as a ruined woman and spinster. This was consistently apparent in her dismissive opinions regarding Griffin’s feelings and motivations toward her throughout the story.
Griffin was my favourite character in the book as he displayed an honourable, thoughtful nature that eventually sought to gain Emily’s attentions and acceptance of his hand in marriage. While averse to the thought of marriage at the beginning of the novel, his attraction to Emily’s independence, strength and beauty was enough to change his mind on the matter. What I loved about Griffin was that he accepted and encouraged Emily to be herself and voice an opinion. This earned my respect as a reader and I found myself cheering for his success in winning her over.
A contention I have with the book, purely because of its title, is the notion of Griffin Crawford being a rogue. I just couldn’t see it. Despite what the title suggests, Griffin comes across as nothing less than an upstanding gentleman who seeks to win the hand of Emily. His admiration and respect for her independence was endearingly charming. Who could resist a man that wants a strong woman? What I could not picture however, was Griffin as a ravishing rogue. Throughout the book he firmly held the line of propriety for Emily’s sake, despite her objections at times, and for this I see him as more of a white knight seeking to save her tainted reputation. In all honesty, this was refreshing to read as too many historical romances favour portraying wicked male characters who become repetitive to read over time. I just wish that the title had been more in line with the real Griffin.
The similarities between Emily and Griffin’s circumstances (their independence and seeking to escape the confines of their families’ expectations of them) made for a believable connection between them from which love would slowly grow. The over-abundance of obstacles between these two points however, got a bit tiresome toward the end.
In spite of all this, I still found More than a Rogue to be an enjoyable read – if only occasionally frustrating.