I began Dunmore’s books with Bringing Down the Duke (2019) when NPR recommended it last year. I was very happy with it and quickly moved on to A Rogue of One’s Own (2020) this year. The time, place, and characters are familiar from Bringing Down the Duke, where four women worked together for women’s rights and the passage of the Married Women’s Property Act. This time, Lucie is our protagonist. She’s very dedicated to the cause and has been estranged from her family for over ten years. Fortunately, she has a small amount of money that allows her some comfort and independence. She shares a small duplex with a widow for the sake of appearances.
Tristan is the rogue of the story. He’s been familiar with Lucie since they were kids because Tristan’s and Lucie’s mothers were good friends. They both spent summers on her family’s estate. However, they never got along. Tristan hounded Lucie with pranks throughout their childhood, and she still resents him. Tristan has now grown up, spent some time in the army (after being forced by his father) and built himself a reputation as an incurable rake. But now Tristan’s father is insisting that Tristan grow up, get married, and produce an heir.
Lucie and the suffragists have been plotting to take over a publishing company in order to publish the real data of how unhappy women can be in marriages where they hold no assets and no power. Tristan ends up buying the other half of this company because he is the anonymous writer of poetry and needs some independent income in order to get out from his father’s draconian fist. This forces the two together, and Lucie is not very happy about it.
Tristan has had a thing for Lucie since they were kids. Half in jest, he offers to let her be the majority shareholder if she sleeps with him for one night. Lucie takes him up on his offer, and they both enjoy it more than they expect–starting something of a relationship. The problems are that Lucie has no interest in marriage and losing everything she has. In addition, Tristan’s father would be horrified by the match and Lucie’s cousin is intent on having Tristan for herself.
This book had some good parts, but I definitely preferred Bringing Down the Duke. I didn’t even like Tristan at first. He did not seem like a good person–into blackmail and indiscriminately sleeping with anyone regardless of their feelings. He also treated Lucie badly when he was younger. I wish Tristan and Lucie had bonded when they were younger, then grew apart, and then they would have more to work with when they saw each other again. It was hard to see why they liked each other at first. Once they got together, I enjoyed the book much more. However, I also wish the homosexual character had been more realistic and less of a villain.
Although this book was a little disappointing compared to Bringing Down the Duke, I’m sure I’ll be reading the next book (Hattie’s story) when it comes out.
You can find all my reviews on my blog.