Saturday, March 24, 2012

A Rogue By Any Other Name by Sarah MacLean

Book Description:
What a scoundrel wants, a scoundrel gets . . .

A decade ago, the Marquess of Bourne was cast from society with nothing but his title. Now a partner in London’s most exclusive gaming hell, the cold, ruthless Bourne will do whatever it takes to regain his inheritance—including marrying perfect, proper Lady Penelope Marbury.

A broken engagement and years of disappointing courtships have left Penelope with little interest in a quiet, comfortable marriage, and a longing for something more. How lucky that her new husband has access to such unexplored pleasures.

Bourne may be a prince of London’s underworld, but he vows to keep Penelope untouched by its wickedness—a challenge indeed as the lady discovers her own desires, and her willingness to wager anything for them . . . even her heart.

Quickie Review:
I loved this romance, which was a surprise for me since I don't usually go for these sort of story lines involving ruthless heroes who carry lots of baggage from their childhoods thus making it all right for them to be jerks when they are grown ups.  Yet, who would have thought?  Sarah MacLean won me over!  In A Rogue... we have our hero Bourne, who is an English aristocrat, yet also a jaded partner in a high class London game hell.  For the past ten years, he has been consumed with the desire to ruin and destroy the man who was responsible for the loss of his entire fortune - all at the turn of a card when he was a green young man of twenty-one years.  Now rich and successful, Bourne finally has the opportunity to regain the one important piece of land he used to own - his family estate.  The catch is, in order to get it, he must marry his childhood playmate, Penelope, an "on-the-shelf" spinster with a large dowry and the deed to the land which he lost in that same card game ten years earlier.  He is not going to let someone else marry her, you can bet on it.

This romance was a roller coaster ride of emotions.  I adored Penelope and Bourne's first snowy reunion after ten years, making the letters written between the two of them at the beginning of each chapter all the more bittersweet.  The fact that Bourne is nothing like that kind boy Penelope grew up with, the same lovable and kind young man who went off to school and wrote her endearing little notes is gone forever.  How sad and tragic.  Now he's an ass most of the time.  Bitter and bent on one single objective in life, for much of the book Bourne comes across as a humorless cad who has his priorities all screwed up.  I usually hate these types!  Yet I actually got into his character and enjoyed his transformation - I believed in him!  Oh how I hate these kinds of heroes and write them off, but with Bourne it was different.  I felt bad for him when he lost everything, basically being duped and cheated out of his inheritance at such a young age.  Penelope was a peach.  I really liked her.  She had a backbone and wasn't a typical meek and mild young miss who did anything she was told.  Yes, she did some dumb things once in a while, going against Bourne's orders or wishes, but she was her own woman basically.  She managed a happily ever ending with Bourne after all, didn't she? That's saying something!

So, the two of them are thrown together in a marriage of convenience and neither is very happy about it for different reasons. (The unexpected and humorous role Penelope's father plays in the instigation of their marriage was fun too - I guessed right about him, btw). Over time, their feelings change and a deep passion develops between them.  Bourne gradually remembers just how much Penelope once meant to him as a youth and his old feelings eventually override his desire for vengeance on the man that cheated him out of ten years of his life.  I did have issues about how dense Bourne was about how to win Penelope back when he feels he's lost her for good.  It took his friends to make him see the light. His friends, btw, have future books coming up as well, which I'm eager to read.  

Basically, this romance is a rendition of the old story of how the love of a good woman can change any man for the better.  These two make a great pair! Snappy dialogue, intense and utterly sexy love scenes and a satisfying finale.  I was up all night reading it.  I loved it!


P.S. Gorgeous cover, btw, what an improvement from the covers in MacLean's last series!

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