RELEASE DATE: 28th Feb 2012
FORMAT: Paperback, 386 pages
GENRE: Historical Romance
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. (Goodreads)
A ROGUE BY ANY OTHER NAME by Sarah MacLean is a historical romance with a twist, introducing the reader to the darker side of society where sin and vice are allowed to reign.
Our story begins with a flashback scene in which Michael Bourne loses his entire Falconwell estate at the age of 21 by gambling on a card game (ironically on the game 21). We are then shot forward 10 years to his current situation, whereby he runs gambling club The Fallen Angel, having rebuilt his fortune more than double. However, the one thing he wants is to reclaim Falconwell and get revenge over Langford, the one who took it all from him.
Standing in the way of his revenge is Penelope Marbury, a childhood friend who remembers the kind-hearted man he used to be before everything was lost. She is unmarried at the age of 26 after a broken engagement with a Duke, and her father acquires Falconwell from Langford to put with her dowry. Michael forces her into marriage after threatening to ruin her reputation, with her agreeing to the match on the condition that he finds suitable matches for her sisters.
Michael marries Penelope as a means to an end, regaining Falconwell and becoming a step closer to revenge on Langford. Meanwhile Penelope is thrown into a loveless marriage, refusing to believe how much Michael has changed from the boy she used to know and still daring to dream for more. Will he drag her down into debauchery or will she prove to be his biggest gamble?
I found the plot of this novel to be very well developed, with the gradual build up of the relationship between Penelope and Michael not feeling at all rushed. At first when he forces her into the marriage he seems cruel and hardhearted, but it soon becomes clear that he has his reasons and revenge may not be all that drives him. I also liked how external society didn’t have a major effect on their relationship, as it was there as a concern but not interrupting the action.
Michael Bourne was a conflicted male protagonist, with his desire for revenge consuming his every action, seeing everything he does as a means to an end without stopping to think of the consequences. His treatment of his new wife is appalling, but there is still a vulnerability to him that wants to let her in and to protect her.
The angles were still there, sharp and perfect, as though a master sculptor had had a hand in creating him – the tilt of his jaw, the cleft of his chin, his long, straight nose, the perfect curve of his brows, and those eyelashes, just as they were when he was a boy, unbelievably long and lush, a black, sooty caress against his cheeks.
Penelope is the perfect match for Bourne, as despite her upper class upbringing she has a taste for adventure, not afraid to enter his world of vice for her own means. She is desperate for more, as she has been neglected by her broken engagement and shunned by respectable society, leaving her feeling unsure of her own worth. However, despite her broken engagement and the chances of becoming a spinster, she still rejects suitors as she is seeking more to marriage than a business deal.
I really enjoyed this book, as the relationship was built up so well and it could easily have fallen apart at any stage. The love wasn’t instantaneous, and it felt believable given the context. I did dislike how cold Michael seemed at the beginning, as I found myself wondering if he was actually capable of changing, and whether Penelope would actually be capable of forgiving him.
The ending of the novel gives an indication of where the series will go in book two, and I am looking forward to reading the continuation of the scoundrels of society. I just hope that book two isn’t a repetition of the first, just with different characters. I liked the writing style of this book, and thought that the romantic scenes weren’t overdone or seedy, making me want to read more by Sarah MacLean in the future.
This book was a great historical romance, showcasing both the aristocracy and the seedy side of society’s gambling habits whilst detailing the romance between two reunited childhood friends. The characters were both complex but complemented each other perfectly, and I really liked the development of their relationship.
BOOKS IN SERIES ORDER
1. A Rogue by Any Other Name
2. One Good Earl Deserves a Lover
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