Lords of Worth, Book 2
Review of Lords of Worth, Book 1 here.
Heat Factor: High
Character Chemistry: Excellent banter and touching moments of real connection
Plot: Presents a legitimate moral dilemma
Overall: It’s ridiculous, but I’m not reading this for the realism
The opening scene of A Good Rogue is Hard to Find is hilarious. William Somerhall, Duke of Worth, has finally girded his loins and is heading to one of his mother’s dinner parties. On the way there, he passes carriage after carriage speeding in the other direction. As he enters the house, he meets some worthy old Lords and Ladies running as if for their lives, followed by chickens. And once he stumbles into the house, he hears his mother discussing the whereabouts of Phillip (in the Duchess’ bed).
The Duke, though he is a bit of a devil-may-care fellow, is properly horrified. It’s hard to tell whether his horror increases or decreases when he learns that Phillip is, in fact, a snake and not a person. Regardless, he is horrified enough that he decides he needs to move in with his mother and make sure her household is running smoothly, because this shit has gone too far. Chickens were one thing, but now there are chickens AND a snake!
The Dowager Duchess of Worth, along with her companion, Jenna, do not want the Duke to move in. Mainly because her crazy shtick is just an act so that everyone will underestimate her, including her son. And because they use this cover of crazy lady and her companion to basically be Robin Hood, minus the archery.
See, Jenna knows a lot about horses. So she fixes horse races in order to redistribute money. William also knows a lot about horses, and is very very tied to the idea that horse racing should be an honorable sport, and that fixing races is just about the lowest thing someone can do. Since Jenna is fixing horse races specifically to target aristocrats who have unpaid bills to tradesmen in order to help them recoup the money they are owed, the central conflict is a real moral dilemma. In other words: what are the ethics of doing something illegal (and also sketchy) in order to right an injustice?
Of course the Duke is too smart for his own good and finds out about the various schemes (and the former thief who is now a butler) and is quite correctly dismayed. But this also means that William has a nice growth arc throughout the book as he learns more about the world. Like, he’s supremely wealthy so it never occurred to him to think about what would happen to the butcher or whatever if his secretary didn’t pay his bills. Luckily his secretary is honest, but it could just as easily have gone the other way.
William’s growth arc is partially accomplished through a scene where he visits the slums of St. Giles with Jenna and the butler / thief. Bowen does not shy away from showing the ugliness of extreme poverty. Therefore, there is a distinct tonal shift about midway through the book. The first half of the book is a lighthearted romp as Jenna and William try to outsmart each other, and then the second half of the book is pretty dark as Bowen does a deep dive into class differences and the repercussions of the actions of a thoughtless few.
In terms of the characters of William and Jenna and their burgeoning relationship:
- It’s nice to have a Duke who is NOT haunted. Like, he is friendly and fun and sociable. He likes the bachelor life and worries about his mother in sort of a vague way.
- Jenna very competent and also not a virgin. She has a sad back story that really shapes who she is, but it doesn’t keep her awake at night with its sadness.
- All the sex stems from them not being able to keep their hands off each other. So it’s hot and fast and in places like the barn or on the floor. Bowen captures that feeling in the early days of lust well. And because Jenna’s not a virgin, it’s not unreasonable for her to be like, “I want you inside me right now and let’s do this thing”
- The conflict in their relationship morphs in a realistic way. First, it’s because Jenna is trying to keep William from finding out what’s going on. Then, it’s because William Does Not Approve. And finally, it’s because Jenna is a companion and William is a duke and there’s no way they can be together without spectacular scandal.
I feel like this book was not as mind-blowingly awesome as I’ve Got My Duke to Keep Me Warm, but I also had much higher expectations going in because I already knew to ignore the silly cover and that Kelly Bowen can Bring It.
Definitely recommended. Get on the Kelly Bowen bandwagon, folks!
Buy Now: Amazon