Lady Camille Pryce jilted her fiancé at the altar a year ago. The aggrieved Lord Fenton claims that she ran from the church, "knocked over a candelabra and nearly set the church ablaze." After being rejected by her family and friends, Camille found refuge at the Tantalus Club, a scandalous gentleman's club where genteel ladies take the coats, serve the food and run the gaming tables. Tired of being humiliated, Fenton is determined to retrieve her from the club and marry her - once she's been properly chastised, of course - but he has been barred from the premises. This is when he gets the bright idea to bribe his ne'er-do-well cousin, Keating Blackwood to do the deed for him. The trouble is, once Keating meets Camille, he wants her for himself.
Keating has been in a self-imposed exile on his country estate for six years, after he cuckolded and killed a man, earning him the nickname "Bloody Blackwood." He is in desperate need of money, for he sends all he has to the widow to support her - and the resulting child - abroad, though he has never been allowed to meet his son. The £10,000 Fenton offers to convince and deliver his errant bride to the altar would see Keating's son comfortably taken care of, and maybe he would finally be allowed to be a part of his life. And maybe even be somewhat absolved from the load of crushing guilt he has carried for six years.
Camille, for her part, has no real interest in wedding Fenton. She'd been engaged to him from the cradle, but Fenton never cared enough to get to know her, or even introduce himself to her. The idea of a lonely life of marriage to a haughty stranger made her flee the church. She has found a refuge at the Tantalus Club, a place to belong with people who care for her, and now she is coming to care for Keating.
Keating and Camille form a friendship, even though he is very upfront with her about his objective. Camille has rarely left the club since her arrival a year ago, hating the stares and gossip she garners. Venturing out with the scandalous Keating emboldens her, makes her more courageous, and even has her contemplating marrying Fenton, if only so that Keating can win the money and his son. Though Keating has quickly fallen in love with Camille, he believes she will be happier surrounded by her family again, taking her rightful place in society. His soul is so riddled with guilt, that he cannot believe he'd ever deserve someone like Camille.
It's an interesting love story, and I was very pleased that all their cards were laid out on the table very early. There were no misunderstandings about motives, no secret agendas - it was refreshing. And though Keating and Camille love each other, neither can bring themselves to sacrifice his son's well-being for their own. It is a seemingly impossible romance, but with one of the most romantic endings I've read in ages.
Taming an Impossible Rogue is not a perfect novel - there were some needless repetitions, some questionable decisions, some tunnel vision I could have done without. But Keating and Camille and their friendship-to-love story made the book for me.
Reviewed by Cheryl Sneed, March 27, 2012