Gentle Rogue
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In many respects, Gentle Rogue by Johanna Lindsey is the quintessential romance novel. First of all, it features the one and only Fabio on its cover. Secondly, the book’s plot is just so romantic and over-the-top that it could only belong in a romance novel. Unfortunately, the book proved to be just too convoluted for my taste.

Gentle Rogue opens in the year 1818. Miss Georgina (Georgie) Anderson of Bridgeport, Connecticut, has traveled to England (unbeknownst to her family but accompanied by Mac, a friend of the family) in search of her fiancé, who was conscripted into the British Navy at the start of the War of 1812. After she finds that her fiancé has married someone else, she and Mac must find a way back to America—but on the cheap, since they’ve used up all their money.

  
 
Mac finds work as a Boatswain’s Mate on a ship headed for Jamaica—where they could rendezvous with one of her brothers’ ships, since her family owns a whole shipping fleet, the Skylark Line. Georgie, however, must disguise herself and work as the captain’s cabin boy. The captain (and sometimes pirate), James Mallory, realizes almost immediately that Georgie is a woman. Naturally, the two fall in love, generating some rather bland love scenes, but then there are the typical misunderstandings and lack of trust.

Thinking that Mallory doesn’t love her—and that he doesn’t intend to marry her—Georgie returns home to Bridgeport. Mallory follows her to try and win her back. At the same time, he also has to try to win over her brothers, several of whom he had skirmishes with during his years as a pirate.

Gentle Rogue would have worked out just fine if Lindsey had simply stuck to the simple, romantic plot—instead of throwing in numerous twists that simply do nothing to propel the action. The added twists only bog down the story, turning a nice, romantic tale into a thoroughly boring and tedious one. While I give Lindsey credit for doing her homework—since she obviously did a lot of research regarding the War of 1812, nautical terms, and the shipping business—she goes into way too much detail, making things rather dull. If I wanted to read about the sea and ships, I’d read Horatio Hornblower—not a romance novel. Lindsey also uses dialogue as a tool for exposition entirely too much, and the characters often talk and talk (and talk) for no apparent reason. For instance, Georgie’s brothers spend several pages talking about women and their “eccentricities.” It’s all just unnecessary.

All in all, I had high hopes for Gentle Rogue. After all, any book with Fabio on the cover has to be good, right? But while Lindsey gets an A for effort, she was simply overly ambitious, and she turned a perfectly good romance into a tedious story about the sea.

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