Review – Wicked Designs (The League of Rogues #1) by Lauren Smith

Wicked Designs cover image

Publisher: Samhain
Publish Date: Out now
How I got this book: ARC from the publisher

The League of Rogues takes what they want—but have they taken on too much?

For too long Miss Emily Parr has been subject to the whims of her indebted uncle and the lecherous advances of his repulsive business partner. Her plan to be done with dominating men forever is simple—find herself a kind husband who will leave her to her books.

It seems an easy enough plan, until she is unexpectedly abducted by an incorrigible duke who hides a wounded spirit behind flashing green eyes.

Godric St. Laurent, Duke of Essex, spends countless nights at the club with his four best friends, and relishes the rakish reputation society has branded him with. He has no plans to marry anytime soon—if ever. But when he kidnaps an embezzler’s niece, the difficult debutante’s blend of sweetness and sharp tongue make him desperate for the one thing he swears he never wanted: love.

Yet as they surrender to passion, danger lurks in Godric’s shadowed past, waiting for him to drop his guard—and rob him of the woman he can’t live without.

Product Warnings:
This novel includes a lady who refuses to stay kidnapped, a devilish duke with a dark past, and an assortment of charming rogues who have no idea what they’ve gotten themselves into.

This blurb came from Goodreads

It has been a while since I read a historical romance for review so when I was looking around for the next thing I wanted to read I remembered this was on my review list. While some of the tropes in the blurb I have read in other historical romances, I enjoyed the spins and twists Smith used throughout her story. I found the combination of familiar and different very satisfying.

Emily really wasn’t in the best situation but she had a plan to improve her circumstances and that plan did not involve dealing with rogues. She was living with her uncle who had very poor judgment in managing his funds so he was indebted to an unsavory character who had his eyes on Emily. As unpleasant as her home life was, she was not willing to risk her potential future by meekly going along with her abductors. I loved how she wasn’t willing to sit back and let others continue to dictate her life. I actually felt a little sorry for the Rogues because she certainly did not behave the way they expected. She did annoy me a few times with what I thought was a bit too much naivety given how unconventional her thoughts and actions were at other times, but overall I didn’t have any problems with her character.

Godric really wasn’t a bad guy; he just saw the world through his particular lens which meant Emily would be grateful the Rogues removed her from her uncle’s protection and kept her away from his business partner. She would be their meek, graceful guest— forever thankful of their attention. Godric would get what he needed from her uncle and she would return home no worse for the wear. Instead, he ended up with a young lady who refused to fit neatly into his preconceived notions, charmed his friends, and caused him to break every rule he had regarding women. I loved watching Godric deal with losing his blinders and what he considered his good sense over Emily.

The development of the relationship between Emily and Godric, not to mention the mostly big brotherly roles taken on by the other Rogues, was entertaining. The Rogue code involving women did speak to their inner sense of morals so I found their behavior more in character than the stereotypical “rake whose rakish ways are cured by the ONE woman he had been searching for his entire rakish life.” I do enjoy those characters but I also enjoy heroes with a touch of bad whose transition to faithfulness is a bit more believable.

Wicked Designs was an entertaining light read. I thought Smith did a good job of mixing up the expected and therefore retaining my interest. She provided just enough about the supporting Rogues to make me wonder about their backstories and also ponder what type of person would slip under their personal armor. This first installment was a good introduction to the series and I will certainly consider reading the next.

I give Wicked Designs a B/B-

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