A warm and hearty welcome to the second book in The Blades of the Rose series, by Zoë Archer. It’s fun having these books released back-to-back, not having to wait too long before the next installment of the story. If you liked Warrior, the first book, then I think you’ll REALLY like Scoundrel. Or you can start with this one; it pulls you in fast, and I think the author does an excellent job of catching the reader up on the story if this is your first book in the series.
Bennett Day, the scoundrel of the title, made an appearance in the previous book. We know he’s a charmer, a ladies’ man who plays the field and avoids long-term romantic commitments. He is a Blade, though, with a strong commitment to the cause of protecting magic sources and keeping them out of the hands of the Heirs of Albion. He is the kind of hero you can’t help liking, but you also can’t help enjoying his change of worldview when he meets a woman to whom he wants to commit.
That woman, London Harcourt, is the daughter of the leader of the evil Heirs. Not that she knows anything about what her father and his cohorts are doing, because the Heirs don’t involve women in their work — British women are to be protected, not treated as equals. But London is a scholar, and she has skills that her father needs to figure out information about a source of magic in the Mediterranean, so she’s in the right place at the right time to meet Bennett and eventually join his cause. London realizing her potential was one of my favorite aspects of this book; sometimes strong heroines seem born, not made, and watching this one evolve was a lot of fun.
One point that you have to keep in mind with these books is that they are fantasy. Not just in their use of magic, although that’s a little stronger in this book than in the last one, but in the way that certain older books (Edgar Rice Burroughs comes to mind) and some adventure films are. Our heroic characters are smarter and faster than their enemies, and they perform amazing feats. If your taste runs to gritty realism, these may not be the books for you. But if (like me) you enjoy heroic fantasy, these books are welcome and wonderful. Because there’s not enough heroic fantasy where the heroes come in both sexes, and in these books they do.
Once again, the setting of the book adds to its appeal. The beauty of the Greek isles, their ancient ruins and mythology, affect the characters and the reader. The respect for different cultures, and the acceptance of a wide variety of legends, traditions and forms of magic, help make this series special.