Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: June 22, 2010
Series or Standalone: Stud Club #2
Links: Amazon – Barnes & Noble – Goodreads
Twice Tempted by a Rogue is book two in Tessa Dare’s Stud Club series. While I liked this one, I didn’t find the story all that memorable afterward. However, I am liking this series and its characters a lot more than the Wanton Dairymaid series, Dare’s first series.
Note this book does contain descriptions of physical/mental abuse, discussion of suicidal tendencies and forced prostitution so it might not be for everyone.
Twice Tempted by a Rogue shifts to focus on Lord Ashworth, Rhys St. Maur, one of the members of the Stud Club, an elite gentlemen’s club that gives member breeding rights to the stallion Osiris. For most of his life, he’s had a death wish, yet even on the battlefield where he earned a distinguished reputation he couldn’t seem to die. After 14 years away, he finally returns to Devonshire to figure out what he should do with the title he inherited. When he returns back to town, he meets Meredith Maddox. Meredith is a fiercely independent woman who runs the local inn and is trying to turn it into a respectable establishment to help revitalize the local community. Immediately she recognized Rhys as she grew up at his family’s estate since her father was the stable master, and nursed a girlhood crush on him. Now widowed, Rhys and her have a chance to be together, except their conflicting view on fate, love and demons from the past threatens everything they’ve been working towards.
As I mentioned, I enjoyed this book while reading it, but didn’t find it particularly memorable. I think part of that has to do with the plot. Unlike with One Dance With A Duke, this book didn’t really feel like it had much of a driving force behind it. With One Dance With A Duke, we had the the murder of Leo, the founder of the Stud Club, as the impetus for the action. While Leo’s murder still hasn’t been solved, this book feels very removed from that overarching storyline, even when Bellamy shows up with a lead to follow. The plot is really driven by uncovering Rhys’ past demons and him convincing Meredith to marry him even though she doesn’t want to give up her freedom. The plot worked while reading, but I’m not going to remember the details of it afterwards.
I also feel focusing the story out in the country and away from the other members of the Stud Club took away something for me. I cannot put my finger on what that something is exactly, but I feel like the setting was a bit dull which made the plot drag. Rhys’ estate is out on the foggy moors, and it was destroyed by a fire years ago, so it had a little bit of a gothic vibe to it. I even feel like the dramatic carriage scene towards the end of the novel was something that would happen in a gothic novel. I don’t hate those vibe in historical romances, but it just wasn’t what I was really expecting from Dare.
When it comes to our two main characters, I did like them, but also felt I had a hard time connecting with them. I really admired Meredith’s independence and drive. She has worked hard and sacrificed so much for the good of her family and community. I also loved that she also wasn’t afraid to take what she wants and was incredibly connected and open and honest about her sexual desires. As a widow, she’s no blushing virgin and I loved reading a character who knew what she wanted and wasn’t afraid to go after it. It’s a nice change of pace. However, something just failed to click with me fully and she did come across a bit of a flat character at times. I had the same sort of feelings about Rhys. He felt very one dimensional at times, despite the fact that I really liked uncovering his past and revealing the causes of his physical and emotional scars. I could have done without some of his high-handedness when it comes to pursuing Meredith as he was treating it like a foregone conclusion and ignoring her opinions.
Despite not fully clicking with the lead characters, I did like that Dare flipped the gender dynamic a bit with Meredith and Rhys’s relationship. At many points of the story, it feels like she’s the one actively pursuing him for a sexual relationship, and he’s the one throwing up the breaks. In fact, he’s the one who is rusty in bed as it’s been over 11 years while Meredith is a bit more experienced in that area. Rhys also has some body insecurities thanks to scars he’s acquired over the years. In romance, I feel like it’s always the women trying to cover up their bodies, so again it was a nice little role reversal.
Overall, I think I would recommend this book as it was an enjoyable read. However, it’s something I’d recommend checking out of the library versus buying. It’s not very memorable or a story I could see myself feeling the need to read again.
I am enjoying the Stud Club series overall and do find this book the weakest of the three. I still think if you’re a fan of Dare’s more recent work, you’ll really enjoy this series.