Taming an Impossible Rogue, Suzanne Enoch’s latest historical romance, has both RT’s Morgan and Whitney buzzing. When the notorious Keating “Bloody” Blackwell returns to London, in order to fulfill his part of a bargain — to convince his cousin’s errant fiancée to return to the other man’s arms — he doesn't expect to fall in love with the chit himself. But he should have known that the woman would defy his expectations; after all Camille Pryce did desert a marquess at the altar and has spent the last year working at the gentlemen’s haunt, the Tantalus Club.
Morgan: I am in love with the Tantalus Club. The second book in Enoch’s Scandalous Brides series gives readers an even closer look inside the workings of this not-so-scandalous, yet often gossiped-about gentleman’s club, which is owned and staffed by women.
Whitney: And what makes the establishment all the more intriguing is that the (incredibly varied) women at Tantalus “[have] fled their previous lives for a hundred different reasons and found sanctuary at the oddest place imaginable.”
Morgan: And among these women is the disgraced Lady Camille Pryce. She has made a new home for herself working and living at the club ever since she left her groom, the Marquess of Fenton, standing at the altar a year ago.
Whitney: When I first read this, I assumed that Fenton had done something diabolical, heinous and unforgivable. I mean it’s a pretty major scandal to be abandoned on your wedding day. (Even more so because the girl showed up, was ready to walk down the aisle — literally standing there with her father — and then she ran the other way.) But the truth comes out in the book’s first few pages that Fenton’s worst sin is neglect. Even though he and Camille have been engaged literally their whole lives, Fenton has avoided ever meeting his wife-to-be.
Morgan: At this point I almost, almost felt sorry for him. It seems like Fenton has some self-esteem issues. He doesn’t think he is glib or has a charming way with conversation, so when it came to wooing his would-be bride, it just seemed easier for him to avoid her altogether.
Whitney: And it was, until Camille makes a run for it, then all the rules change.
Morgan: Suddenly, Fenton’s perfectly wrapped and delivered bride becomes a lot more hassle than he ever expects — especially because Camille doesn’t hie off to the country or the continent.
Whitney: Instead she gets a very visible job (perish the thought) in London (double perish), where she is not even tucked away as a governess or companion — she’s at a gentlemen’s club (triple perish!). (Really at this point Fenton is so choked up with embarrassment, it almost makes him sympathetic.)
“And I’m a laughingstock, because the daughter of the Earl of Montshire would rather work for a living, serving my peers, than marry me.”
Morgan: So what does Fenton do? Why he, of course, calls on his cousin Keating Blackwell, a man whose total lack of positive reputation in the eyes of the ton — he’s not called “Bloody Blackwell” for nothing — means that he will be able to discreetly remind Camille of all she’s missing.
Whitney: Fenton’s willing to exchange 10 thousand pounds in order to ensure that the silver-tongued Keating will convince Camille that it is in her best interest to leave the Tantalus Club and return to Fenton’s (figurative) side.
Morgan: Keating takes the deal because he desperately needs money for a deep, dark secret from his past, which he refuses to discuss.
Whitney: This is an extra layer to the story that really gave me a better feel for what makes this hero … heroic. However, the other characters don’t realize Keating’s true character. All they know is that he killed a man.
Morgan: But it was in self-defense!
Whitney: True, but the only reason Keating had to defend himself is because a cuckolded husband caught him in flagrante delicto with his wife. Hence, the attempted murder that ended in the murderer’s death. For the last six years, (post killing, court drama, etc.) Keating has been living in the country, spending time as a gentleman farmer and fairly often, a drunken one!
Morgan: But then Fenton offers a huge sum of money for his help and Keating becomes determined to turn over a new leaf and get Camille back to the altar for his cousin. So, Keating returns to London, the scene of the crime, in order to take care of business.
Whitney: Except, back in town, Keating pretty much botches the Camille thing when he immediately starts a fistfight and then goes out to get completely drunk. This type of behavior doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in his ability to get the job done.
Morgan: But in Keating’s defense, the fight he starts is over Camille’s honor, so it is not as bad as all that. And the alcohol is just a way of forgetting an old poem that an acquaintance brings up.
Whitney: You are right, I would probably be drinking (and fighting) if people went around quoting bad poetry about my scandals to me. I mean, come on:
“Bloody Blackwood plowed the wife/and then he took her husband’s life.”
Morgan: Agreed, but even with the scandal in mind, Camille agrees to meet Keating privately because he bothered to ask her why she opted to flee her wedding. And even after this meeting goes poorly because Keating is downright rude, Camille agrees to see him again on a walk.
Whitney: Personally, I think the only reason that she is hanging out with him is that Keating is more scandalous than she is. It has to be at least somewhat refreshing to be seen in public and not be whispered about because everyone is too busy staring at your companion.
Morgan: And Blackwell may have a horrible reputation, but he does his best to protect Camille from any wagging tongues —
Whitney: And he’s willing to further tarnish his own reputation by doing outlandish things.
Morgan: Like walking up to Camille’s ex-friends in the park and planting full-on kisses on their lips so they understand what it is like to be the center of negative attention.
Whitney: This is where Camille really starts seeing what I’m calling “the softer side” of Keating.
“The most fun was the realization that this man who’d crossed her path just yesterday had already shown himself to be more her ally than her parents, her sisters or any of her previous ‘friends’ had been in over a year.”
Morgan: It’s diabolical in its incredible awesomeness. And from this moment on, Keating’s appeal just blossomed for me.
Whitney: He does have this odd sense of honor. He might be trying to convince Camille to head to the altar with his cousin, but he can’t help stealing a few kisses — and not from Camille’s ex-friends, from the lady herself!
Morgan: Which goes to show that Keating has absolutely no sense of self preservation. Which, refreshingly enough, is something he recognizes.
“I don’t have ill luck, I make ill choices.”
Whitney: And despite his warning to Cammy, as he calls her, that he’s no good, he doesn’t stop making plans to be with her.
Morgan: These are pretty great plans. These are plans that I wish other heroes would take note of. Like when he takes her to the Tower of London’s menagerie to play with lion cubs.
Whitney: Or when he enlists the aid of an old Gypsy grandmother to act as their chaperone so that Camille feels like she can accept his offer to take her to the theater.
Morgan: During these moments, it’s heartbreaking to remember that Keating’s actions are motivated, at least somewhat, because he has been promised 10 thousand pounds from his cousin.
Whitney: Oh, you mean the cousin that Camille is engaged to? The cousin Keating is trying to convince her to marry?
Morgan: Yep, that cousin. Yet in the midst of everything, it is easy to see why Camille imagines that Keating is wooing her for himself. He proves to be the most dedicated suitor. Paying her attention, listening to her, sticking up for her, supporting her decisions and even orchestrating the first bit of attention that Fenton has ever paid her.
Whitney: Because in the end, Keating is working to get Cammy to marry his cousin — if only he could convince his heart (and his hands) that this young lady is off limits.
Morgan: It is quite the predicament.
Whitney: Especially because of Keating’s secret. As much as he wants Camille, he needs the money more because —
Morgan: Don’t give it away!
Whitney: Fine, I will let the readers discover the secret themselves. But let me say that it is a doozy.
Do you want to find out what Keating’s secret is, and who Camille ultimately decides to marry? You’ll have to pick up your own copy of Taming an Impossible Rogue, which is in stores now. And while you’re doing that you can check out The Seduction of Phaeton Black by Jillian Stone , which we will be talking about next week.