The Rogue is the second book in Harlequin Historical’s Knights of the Black Rose series. The knights are a group of six who survived the Crusades together. This is the story of Nicholas Hendry, who had a reputation with the ladies before he left for the Crusades, and Beatrice Thibault, the sister of one of his conquests.
They meet for the first time as Nicholas is finally on his way home after four years. He and one of his fellow knights had stopped at an inn for refreshments just outside of Nicholas’ family home. Beatrice and her father run the inn. As the knights are leaving, she confronts Nicholas, spits in his face, and orders him not to return. Since he does not know her, he is quite surprised.
Beatrice has a reason for not wanting Nicholas around. Her sister Flora had a fling with Nicholas just before he left for the Crusades. And he left not knowing that Flora was pregnant with his child. Flora dies in childbirth and Beatrice and her father have loved little Owen ever since. She does not want Nicholas to know that Owen is his son because she fears losing him.
Nicholas does find out about his son and wants to be part of his life. Beatrice continues to be afraid, but the two of them become more and more attracted to each other.
The secondary storyline involves Nicholas’ inheritance. His parents thought he was dead, so his father signed papers making the neighboring landowner, Baron Hawse, the heir. Not long before Nicholas returns, his father dies and the Baron, a scheming, sly man, has no plans to give up the land to the long lost son. His mother thinks she is in love with the Baron, so she wants Nicholas to “play nice.” Once he has his son, Nicholas is more determined that ever to keep his land and tenants for Owen.
The interplay between Beatrice and Nicholas sparkles. Beatrice had convinced herself that Nicholas was the devil who caused her sister’s death. Nicholas had been a rogue, but he truly did care for Flora and is sad that she is gone. He also had decided to mend his roguish ways after living through the horrors of the Crusades. Her conflicts with him and her realization that he has a good heart are touching.
The only thing that I found a bit strange was Nicholas’ lack of action to get his inheritance back. He continues to say that he is going to do something, like appeal to the king, but he doesn’t seem to get to it. The resolution does work and reunites Nicholas with two of his friends.
The Rogue is an enjoyable story filled with warm characters and some of the feel of medieval England. I hope the rest of the Knights’ stories are as entertaining.
--B. Kathy Leitle