Author: Jennifer Haymore
Genre: Historical Romance
My Copy: ARC via NetGalley
Add to: Goodreads
Synopsis: Lord Lukas Hawkins, the rakish second son of the House of Trent, has never found a wager he couldn't win or a woman he couldn't seduce—until his search for his missing mother leads him to a mysterious encounter with a beautiful stranger.
Luke's mother has been missing for months, and while his honorable older brother Simon, Duke of Trent, leads the official investigation from London, Luke sets out on a somewhat seedier path. Sources have told him his mother was last seen with a scoundrel named Roger Morton, but their association isn't clear. Was she kidnapped or did she go willingly?
While searching for Morton, Luke meets Emma Anderson, a secretive beauty with her own reasons for hunting Morton. At first Luke laughs at the idea of allowing a woman to join him in his search, but soon Emma's insights into Morton—like the woman herself—prove impossible to resist.
I wasn’t a fan of Jennifer Haymore’s debut, A Hint Wicked and as a fan of historical romance, I decided to give her another try. Unfortunately, The Rouge’s Proposal had potential to be an intriguing romance with a hint of mystery, but it falls flat.
Character development is weak and by the time we get to the ending, I’m still not sure I knew the characters well enough to say that I liked them. Emma Curtis is a widow and her father blames her for losing his fortune because her husband makes a bad business deal. Carrying that weight, she opts to make things better by searching for Roger Morton. Lucas Hawkins lives in the shadow of his brother, the Duke of Trent. He has some dark secret that made him the way he is and he too is in search of Morton because his mother was last seen with Morton. I’d like to say there’s a cast of secondary characters who play a vital role, but alas it’s just mostly Emma and Lucas; both who fail to make an immediate impression.
As for the narrative, it was okay, but a lot of it sounded a bit too modern. Also, I’m not sure if the fault lies with the editor or perhaps Haymore, but several times Emma is referred to as “Mrs. Emma Curtis” and not “Mrs. Henry Curtis.” It kept throwing me off especially since she would have been “Mrs. Curtis” in general. For example, in Sense and Sensibility, Mrs. Dashwood is referred to as that throughout the novel. Then there’s the big secret regarding Lucas’ upbringing. I won’t go into detail regarding the secret, but we’re led to assume that no one in the family noticed or knew, but I find that to be a bit unrealistic especially when you consider the size of an aristocratic household.
The big problem I had with The Rouge’s Proposal was how quickly Luke and Emma fall into bed. I have no problem with lust and it happening, but Emma early on set up parameters and clearly states that she will not sleep with Lucas no matter what. Of course that plan quickly changes and the second or third night together, they have sex. Here Emma discovers that she likes it a bit rough and lord and behold, Lucas likes it too. This particular kink was a bit too predictable.
Overall, Jennifer Haymore’s The Rouge’s Proposal was a bit of a dud. I totally stopped caring halfway through this. I only kept reading to see what happened to Lucas’ mother. If you’re a fan of historical romance, you might want to check this out since I’m in the minority when it comes to this book.