My name is Janga, and I’m a series addict. The habit goes back to childhood when my favorite fictional characters—Jo March, Anne Shirley, and Betsy Ray—were featured in series that I reread again and again, always in order. The most tattered romance novels on my keeper shelves are Jo Beverley’s Rogues and Mallorens, Mary Jo Putney’s Fallen Angels, and Nora Roberts’s MacGregors, which I have also reread again and again, and always in order. One of the things I like best about series is falling in love with a secondary character and knowing that sooner or later the author will write a book in which that character becomes the hero or heroine.
I started reading Jo Beverley’s books with her very first traditional Regency, Lord Wraybourne’s Betrothed (1988), and so she was already on my autobuy list when she introduced her Company of Rogues with An Arranged Marriage in 1991. There were an even dozen of the Rogues when they banded together as schoolboys at Harrow, but Beverley, deciding that it was unrealistic for all of them to have survived in wartime had two of them, Lord Roger Merrihew, son of the Marquess of Edenbridge, and Allan Ingram die in battle before the series begins. The name of a third, Lord Darius Debenham, younger son of the Duke of Yeovil, showed up on the fatality list after Waterloo in the second book in the series, An Unwilling Bride (1992). Although Dare’s role in the first two books is slight, he was a light-hearted charmer who captured the affections of Beverley’s readers. I know I’m not the only one who shed tears when his death served as the occasion for one of the most moving speeches in romance fiction, the Rogues’ toast given by head Rogue, Nicholas Delaney, twin brother of the Earl of Stainsbridge:
“To all the fallen: may they be forever young in heaven. To all the wounded: may they have strength and heal. To all the bereaved: may they feel joy again. And please God, may there one day be an end to war.”