Title: A Rogue by Any Other Name
Author: Sarah MacLean
Page Count: 386 pages
Genre: historical romance
Copy for review was purchased by me
Back Cover Summary
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.
I had seen this title bandied about on various blogs a couple of months ago, right before the second book in this series was released, and filed it away for future reference. After reading enough good reviews and seeing that the price had temporarily dropped on Amazon, I was ready to dive in.
The story was a nice tale of redemption for Bourne, one of the owners of a notorious gambling hell who, in his wild younger years, made a stupid mistake that changed the entire course of his life. That mistake was, for whatever reason, gambling all of his holdings that weren’t entailed on a single hand of cards. It’s something a young and stupid person would do but for whatever reason Bourne was surprised when the scumbag he was playing against held him to his bargain. Bourne’s obsession with regaining his family estate was born on that night.
Enter the other half of the equation- Lady Penelope Marbury, whose family estate bordered on the one that Bourne (Michael) lost in the card game back when they were children. Penelope had a secret crush on him when they were both young, but kept it a secret and nurtured her feelings in private, writing and never sending lots of letters and the like. Fast forward to the present day of the story and Penelope is something of a pariah, having broken an engagement years ago when she found out her fiance was in love with someone else. The fiance is happily married with children; Penelope is a walking punch line and her family really wants to get her to the altar.
Penelope’s family was kind of douchey in this book- I understand that Penelope’s actions had consequences for them but the whole “we’d rather you be unhappy forever than have your choices impact me” line got old after awhile. It was her dad deciding that enough was enough and adding more land to Penelope’s dowry that got Bourne on the scene to ruin Penelope’s reputation in the first place. I wish there had been more explanation of how Penelope’s dad came by some very sensitive information about Bourne’s nemesis, but what can one do.
Anyway, the best part of the story was easily the blossoming romance between Bourne and Penelope. Penelope is the best kind of nice girl heroine- the one who is honest and true without being vapid or shallow, the one who has beliefs and lives by them and tries to make the best of a bad situation without coming across as naive. Penelope wants the kind of love that lasts a lifetime and resents the implications of oh, everyone she knows that she should be happy with a groom who is vertical and above room temperature. She decides to make the most of her marriage with Bourne, even before Bourne realizes that revenge isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Likewise, Bourne makes an excellent redeemed bad boy. He’s faced with the inconvenient situation of actually falling in love with the woman he was supposed to marry to get his estate back and then forget about. She’s determined for them to be happy together, and his friends at the gambling hell are happy as clams to see Bourne entangles so thoroughly. Meeting the other owners of the Fallen Angel conveniently introduces us to the heroes for future books in the series. It all works out nicely.
Overall this story was a pleasing way to spend an evening after work, and it definitely got me on board for future installments in the series. Each of the owners of the Fallen Angel has his own terribly convoluted story that true love can help sort out, so I’m excited to be around for the ride.