Review: Once a Rebel

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Once a RebelOnce a Rebel (Rogues Redeemed #2) by Mary Jo Putney
Series: Rogues Redeemed #2
Published by Zebra on August 29th 2017
Genres: Historical
Pages: 368
Goodreads
three-stars

FINAL DECISION:  Childhood friends who become lovers, this story takes place in an under-represented time period which makes the events interesting. The story is a slow burn and the romance develops more slowly than I would like.

THE STORY: Callista Brooke is in the middle of the burning of Washington in the War of 1812. Widowed from the man her father forced her to marry, Callista is now raising her husband’s illegitimate children. In danger, a man rides up to save her. Lord George Gordon Audley has taken the job of bringing Callista back to England. What Gordon didn’t know is that Callista is his childhood friend. Callista is shocked by the appearance of her friend Richard who she believed died after being transported for “kidnapping” her. What had actually happened was the Richard had attempted to rescue Callista from her forced marriage, but the two had been caught by their fathers. Now Richard and Callista must make their way to safety during a war.

OPINION:  I enjoyed the relationship between the hero and heroine here, but the actual ending seemed a bit wanting for me. This is a story of two people who are friends, are apart for almost half their lives and then find one another again. For Richard and Callista, there isn’t a “wow, my friend is now a hottie that I want and love” moment. That was not only okay for me but felt natural. The two begin a relationship based on respect and friendship as they navigate the dangers that surround them both from the war and also the personal problems. But I really wanted something to click with them sooner than it did and something more passionate and exciting to happen between them personally.  Instead, this is a “we gradually realize that we must be in love” story.

I was a bit disappointed by this, because I liked there characters. They both have had difficult lives since they parted, but have made themselves survivors. This is an opportunity for them to finally find something joyous with one another.

I especially liked the time and place of this book as it begins because not many romances are set in America during the War of 1812. This book gives a glimpse into a different time period. The characters also manage to move back to more familiar England and a whole new set of issues arise.

Although the action in the last portion of the book happens really quickly, I ended up loving the relationship between Richard and Callista at that point. The two have found some joy and peace with one another and the drama is the catalyst that brings them finally to the realization that they truly love one another. (But the relationship never seems like a deeply passionate one).

WORTH MENTIONING: One thing that bothered me about this story is how Callista’s step-children are so important to her but they characters are jettisoned part way through the book. I felt the story should have committed to them or excised them completely.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  ONCE A REBEL is the second book in the Rogues Redeemed series. While there are overlapping characters, this book can be read as a standalone without missing anything at all.

STAR RATING:  I give this book 3 stars.

NOTE:  I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in order to provide a review. I was not required to write a review or to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.

three-stars

Review: Once a Soldier

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Once a SoldierOnce a Soldier (Rogues Redeemed, #1) by Mary Jo Putney
Series: Rogues Redeemed #1
Published by Zebra on June 28th 2016
Genres: Historical
Pages: 368
Goodreads
three-half-stars

FINAL DECISION: This was an enjoyable read but not particularly compelling a re-read.  I enjoyed the characters and the story and was glad that I read it.  I thought that the hero was really sweet.

THE STORY:  Will Masterson went to war despite being heir to a title.  He was running from his past but years of war have made him yearn for home in England.  Now that the Peninsular Wars have ended, Will has one last mission to complete before he can return home.  Will escorts a group of soldiers back to their home in San Gabriel in order to see how the kingdom fares.  In San Gabriel, Will meets an Englishwoman Athena Markham.  There are sparks between Will and Athena from the beginning, but Athena’s past makes her distrust men especially titled gentlemen.

OPINION:  This story is heavy on the action as Will and Athena work to save San Gabriel.  The romance between them is slow and steady and wrapped in their duties toward the kingdom.  I didn’t feel that the romance was intense and sparkling but rather of two people who have the same values and loyalties finding one another.

While I enjoyed the story overall, I didn’t feel that there was a deeply compelling romance between Will and Athena.  I thought they were a match, but their story didn’t have the intense interest for me that I consider a requirement for a 5 star book.  On the other hand, I did believe that the book had a good overarching story (including a secondary romance) and likeable characters that I cared about.

Because the characters met in unusual circumstances, their behavior did not rely on convention which made their characters more interesting.  Because the action of the book takes place far from the ballrooms of London, the characters are not as restrained and seem more free and real. I liked how modern Athena feels (not improper for the times, just strong and independent) and how Will is drawn to Athena because of those attributes.

I think this book is a good kick off to the new series and I hope we see more of Will and Athena in the future.

WORTH MENTIONING:  This new series follows a group of men who met by chance when they were sentenced to die as spies and then escaped together.

CONNECTED BOOKS:  ONCE A SOLDIER is the first book in the Rogues Redeemed series.  The hero in this book also appears as a secondary character in the Lost Lords series.  One doesn’t have to read that series, however, to enjoy this book.

STAR RATING: I give this book 3.5 stars.

three-half-stars