Review: The Peer’s Roguish Word by Kate Archer (2021)

Posted June 16, 2024 by Mary Kingswood in Review / 0 Comments

Hugely enjoyable, and a great contrast with the previous book, where the two principals were obviously well suited by their common love of horses. Here, they couldn’t be more different, but the author makes it work beautifully.

Here’s the premise: Miss Kitty Dell is an intellectual, more interested in science and her books than dancing. Still, it’s time to put aside her books and enjoy her first season in town, and perhaps she’ll meet a like-minded gentleman amongst the members of the Royal Society? Certainly she’ll never marry anyone like Giles, Marquess of Grayson, who is a frivolous dandy, without a serious thought in his head beyond the folds of his excessively starched cravat. Besides, he may flirt a lot, but he never offers marriage. But Giles is piqued by Kitty’s disdain, and sets out to charm her as only he knows how. Meanwhile, there’s something odd going on at the Royal Society…

I think my favourite book of this series is book 2, but I liked this one almost as much and for the same reason. The hero here has a relaxed, easy-going approach to life. He’s one of the world’s charmers, a pleasant, likeable fellow, and yes, he’s a terrible flirt and a bit of a dandy, it has to be said, but he’s good company. And when Kitty refuses to be drawn in to his flirtations, he’s a little bit piqued, because he charms all the ladies, so how can she be immune? He then sets out to win her over in other ways. He drops the grandiose and eye-rollingly silly compliments, sends her presents that he thinks she will like (a book! Smart man, although not that smart) and he even takes an interest in the troubles at the Royal Society, and finds creative ways to help out. He’s not an intellectual, but he’s not stupid and he sets after Kitty with single-minded determination, but always being his charming self. Some heroes are so up their own rear ends they’re impossible to like, but Grayson is a straightforward, sunny chap, the sort it’s impossible to dislike.

I liked Kitty as well, for being so sensible about things. Even though she’s painted as a rapid intellectual, she recognises that for the few weeks of the season, at least, she has to focus on dances and gowns and shopping and being pleasant to people she doesn’t even like too much. Happily, she has parents who are nice, sensible people, acting to protect their daughter and steer her gently without ever pushing her or disrespecting her. It’s lovely to see in a genre which is overflowing with thoroughly nasty parents and step-parents. I did think Kitty had some logic failure towards the end of the book, though, in suspecting Grayson of various crimes. And having correctly deduced that an invitation to meet a gentleman in the garden at a ball is Not A Good Thing, she then does it anyway. Silly girl.

The mystery isn’t particularly mysterious, since the identity of the villain is obvious from his first appearance. It’s still fun, however, and again Grayson is creative in resolving it. I particularly loved the letter from his distant relation. I must also applaud the author for imbuing her minor characters with such original ideas for balls. I love the mask lady, and the recreation of Valhalla would be spectacular. I’d love to see that in a TV recreation.

There were only a few anachronisms – sidewalk (Brits have pavements), psyche (not used in the psychological sense until 1910), and again, London town houses don’t have front gardens. Most of them don’t have ballrooms either, since space was at a premium, but it’s so convenient I can let that pass. But these are very minor irritations in a series that I’m enjoying enormously. I don’t remember the last time I read an entire series back to back, since I usually get jaded after two or three, but Archer keeps creating interesting pairings in a style that’s amusing and easy to read, without losing too much Regency authenticity. Five stars and straight on to see how Lord Dalton meets his doom.


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