When Drake Darling finds a bedraggled woman washed up on the riverbank, honor demands he carry her someplace safe to recover. He is surprised to recognize Lady Olivia Lyttleton, the perpetual thorn in his side, but surprise turns to disbelief when she fails to recognize him. Lady Olivia can hardly bear to be around Drake Darling – as a commoner, he is everything that a snob like Olivia detests – but this woman has no idea who she is, or how she came to be in the river that night. While Drake knows better than to take advantage of any woman, he has dealt with Olivia’s contempt for years and can’t resist punishing the haughty woman. He tells Olivia that she is “Phee,” his housekeeper, and cautiously waits for her memory to return.
“I know more than you think, Lady Ophelia. Understand more than you can possibly imagine. You’ll marry some proper lord, but I suspect you would very much like to waltz with the devil first.”
“You’re quite mistaken.”
Over several weeks, Drake finds a curious, humorous woman beneath Olivia’s high-and-mighty veneer, becoming addicted to kind, beautiful “Phee.” For her part, Phee is irresistibly drawn to her guarded employer, but that fascination is overwhelmed by betrayal when her memory finally returns. With the return of Olivia’s memories, Drake discovers how she came to be in the river, revealing a dark family secret that will claim more than one life before the truth is uncovered. Together, Drake and Olivia must overcome their difficult history if they ever hope to be together.
Lorraine Heath’s Once More, My Darling Rogue is an entertaining mash-up of Overboard and Pride and Prejudice, complete with amnesia, elegant attire, and plenty of arrogance to go around. Although the plot is certainly predictable, Heath finds a way to surprise readers with unexpected character developments. Initially, Lady Olivia seemed to be an irredeemable snob, but the amnesia storyline allowed a more vulnerable, more sympathetic woman to emerge. As much as Lady Olivia is unlovable, Phee is endearing and loyal. She gives heart to a tired plot, and to a man who has always believed himself undeserving of love. Once More, My Darling Rogue proves that secrets are poisonous, that trust can heal most wounds, and that everyone deserves to be a loved, even mean girls.
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