cover image The Rogue

The Rogue

Katharine Ashe. Avon Books, $7.99 mass market (384p) ISBN 978-0-06-241273-7

Ashe’s launch of the Devil’s Duke series smolders with early 19th-century swordplay, a secret society practicing dark arts, and long-suffering lovers. A tastefully provocative prologue has Lady Constance Read, a lonely 18-year-old, and Frederick Evan “Saint” Sterling, untitled and therefore unsuitable, brazenly flirting in a darkened corridor of an English estate. Six years pass before they reunite in Scotland, when Saint is hired to tutor Constance in swordsmanship; older, wiser, and still smitten, they pick up right where they left off, but life has scarred them both, leading to complications and trust issues. Meanwhile, a mystery involving missing girls, ostensibly at the hands of a demented duke, has captivated all of society, and Constance, as an agent of the Falcon Club (the mystery-solving group from Ashe’s Falcon Club series), enlists Saint to help spy on the aristocracy. A dramatic ending involving kidnappings, torture, and ritualistic elements is gripping and leaves readers something to ponder for sequels. Agent: Kim Whalen, Trident Media Group. (Mar.)