A Rogue by Any Other Name Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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RITA Award Winner, Best Historical Romance, 2013
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 an unexplored world of pleasures.
Bourne may be a prince of London's illicit 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.
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|Listening Length||13 hours and 11 minutes|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||February 28, 2012|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #23,524 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#291 in Historical Romance (Audible Books & Originals)
#3,581 in Historical Romances
Reviewed in the United States on September 11, 2016
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Penelope has found her prospects tarnished by a broken engagement and several years of courtships that came to nothing. She longs for more than a staid society match. Luckily for her, her new husband can show her many unexplored pleasures, though possibly not the depth of emotion she longs for.
Michael is perfectly at home in London’s seedy underbelly, but he’s determined for Penelope to remain untainted by that darkness. She’s about to show him she’s not nearly as biddable as he’d like to think and she’s willing to risk it all to gain the more she longs for.
I’m not usually too crazy about revenge plots so I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about this book, but I’ve surprised myself with how much I enjoyed it. Penelope and Michael really brought out the best in one another as Penelope gained confidence out from under her parents’ shadow and Michael learned to let go of his revenge and find something else to live for. Michael fought her every step of the way, unsure how to carry on without the force that had been driving him for the past nine years, as well as believing himself unworthy of Penelope. He was frustrating in his attempts to be high-handed with her and protect her from the seedier world he operated in, but she was having none of it and I loved seeing her stand up for herself and refused to be kept in the box that had been assigned to her. This was a bit angsty, but in a way I can appreciate, without it giving me anxiety. I loved the spinster heroine taking charge of her life and bringing her childhood friend back to the man he was always meant to be, just improved by his struggles without being so obsessed with his vengeance. Michael’s single-minded focus on completely his revenge and obtaining Falconwell made him difficult to like, but it was also impossible not to see the potential in him, as Penelope did. His hot and cold treatment of Penelope was incredibly annoying, but I stayed engaged in the story, waiting for the satisfaction of seeing him brought to his knees by his inevitable feelings for Penelope and I was not disappointed by that. These two actually wound up being a perfect match and I was very satisfied by them together. This is probably my favorite MacLean that I’ve read so far, and I plan to continue this series.
AUTHOR: Sarah MacLean
SERIES: Rules of Scoundrels, Book 1
SETTING: early 1830s (post-Georgian, pre-Victorian), mostly London
THEMES/TROPES: old friends-to-lovers, coerced marriage, revenge, redemption, spinster, “heartless” hero, reformed rake, gaming hell
Lady Penelope Marbury has languished in Society for several years after a broken engagement placed her desirability in question, turning down a handful of so-so suitors and, without realizing it, putting her sisters’ futures in jeopardy—but her father is determined that it’s time she married. He’s added a valuable piece of land, newly acquired, to Penelope’s dowry, and the suitors are about to come pouring in. Though she knows she wants more than a bland Society marriage, Penelope is ready to accept a proposal from an old friend and settle into a comfortable life.
That is, until another old friend, Michael, Lord Bourne, comes bursting back into her life, determined to have her dowry: the ancestral land that he lost on a foolish bet years earlier. Bourne has spent several years focused on two things, regaining his land and seeking revenge against the man who took it from him, and a wife seems a small price to pay to achieve at least one of those goals. His plan, however, did not account for the fact that the bride in question is the one woman who knew him before he was the dark, hardened Bourne—when he was happy, carefree Michael. Nor did he consider that his revenge might be something that hurts Penelope. And he certainly didn’t consider that he might care about hurting her. It all comes down to a decision between the goal he’s been chasing for so long—as goal that has hardened his heart—and giving Penelope the love and adventure that she’s always wanted.
Love developing between old friends is one of my favorite romance archetypes, so this storyline automatically appealed to me. The concept of Bourne’s goals, and his guilt and shame at having lost his land to begin with, are a fabulous background for the story because it puts him and Penelope in a position where they’ve been separated for years and become very different people. Not only do they need to rediscover one another and their friendship, but his drive for revenge propels the drama between them.
The two characters are both well-rounded and interesting, and their relationship develops at a good pace. Penelope is finding the gumption to seek some adventure in her life, but she’s not throwing propriety to the wind because she wants to help her sisters make good matches more than anything. Bourne is infused with a good amount of devil-may-care attitude with hints of solicitousness to show that he’s not truly heartless. I like that he has a major screw-up in his past because so many heroes are so infallible. Bourne is constructed as a very driven character, so it felt believable that once he found a goal that brought out the best in him (namely, love and family), his drive would make him strive to be better.
The pace of the romance is fairly good, with plenty of trust issues because of the charade of a love match they put on for Society to make their marriage look less scandalous. Because they spend so much time pretending to be in love, there are points when the emotional progression feels a little redundant—“he cares about me … no, that was just pretend … but he does seem to care … no, that was just acting again”—but those emotional circles mostly make sense in the plot.
One detail of this book that I love is the use of letters as epigraphs for each chapter, starting with letters between Penelope and Bourne when they were quite young and continuing to letters from Penelope that he never answered and then to letters that Penelope kept writing but never sent.
The one aspect of Bourne that I found a little perplexing was his very insistent belief that he and his life aren’t good enough for Penelope. Perhaps if we got more information on the things he had done during the years when he was trying to earn back his lost fortune, this might make more sense, but the glimpses we get of the gaming hell he co-owns, particularly some details about how well-regulated it is and how well they treat their employees, does not paint a picture of a particularly dark life.
The plot was very much focused on their emotional progression, which is not necessarily a con in itself, but the plot could have had more interest by being a bit more eventful. I would have liked a bit more of Bourne and Penelope interacting with secondary characters. I usually love secondary characters, and I did enjoy Cross, one of Bourne’s partners, but there just wasn’t a lot of the other characters in this story.
Writing: 4/5 MacLean’s writing is consistently good.
Characters: 5/5 Well-rounded and interesting.
Plot: 4/5 Could have been a bit more eventful.
Setting: 4/5 Bourne’s gaming hell is nicely detailed.
Romance: 5/5 I love a friends-to-lovers story.
Sexiness: 5/5 Well-written and integrated with romance.
Humor: 3/5 Touches of humor, but not much laugh-out-loud.
Average: 4.28 Great Romance Development between Old Friends
This is the first of MacLean’s Rules of Scoundrels series, each book focusing on one of the four owners of the gaming hell called The Fallen Angel. Penelope previously appeared in the Love by Numbers series as the betrothed of the Duke of Leighton, the hero of the third book, and their broken engagement plays a big role in how she got to the place she’s at in this book. Reading that book before this one isn’t necessary, but I would recommend reading this book before moving on to the rest of the series because this book gives good background on Penelope’s sister Pippa, who is the next heroine in this series, paired with Bourne’s co-owner, Cross.
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The good and the bad:
Oh my god, I loved this book! I struggled to put it down for basic necessities such as showering, cooking dinner and going to the loo - it was just too riveting!
I was dying for the hero, Bourne/Michael, to show signs of his old, happy self - how he was before his dad's mate screwed him out of almost everything his family had ever owned. Poor Penelope, bless her, she was so downbeat about being a spinster then marrying cold and hard-shelled Bourne, yet she came out fighting. I was desperate to see them re-establish the sparkling relationship they'd had as children. The excerpts of letters they had written each other over the years was heartbreaking.
And don't get me started on the sexual tension - I felt like a coiled spring waiting to be let go! The sex scenes were really juicy and there was a decent smattering of them.
The book was really well written with very few typos.
The whole novel was pretty much faultless. The only possible criticism I can think of is that Sarah Maclean didn't make the most of Bourne and Penelope's being alone in the billiards room, if you catch my meaning, wink, wink! Although they do get it on elsewhere afterwards...
This was my first Maclean book and I was genuinely so gleeful reading it, I will definitely be reading the next in the series!
Many readers of romance novels are led to them by the concise prose and critical analysis of human behaviour found in Jane Austin's novels. Or the alternate reality which combines 1920's social mores set within an entirely fictitious social environment, found in the novels of Georgette Heyer. Both these authors succeed due to their very different skills; one should say genius.
Austin and Heyer (and that is an unlikely pairing) both set a high bar for new authors in the genre; a bar which so many are willing to attempt, and fail.
With examples such as this, one can only say, 'ouch!'
I would thoroughly recommend this book.
In this story MacLean gives us Michael, Marquees of Bourne, who in a night of gambling and betrayal at the age of 21 lost all, and gained a deep thirst for revenge and a drive to gain back all that he had lost. Then there is strong and intelligent Lady Penelope Marbury, Michael’s childhood friend but also someone he uses in his driving need for revenge. Watching the conflict and tension in Michael as his desire for Penelope and all she promised clashed with his longing for revenge was overall riveting, MacLean knows how to draw the reader in.
This is an interesting book, written well, with MacLean taking the bones of a story we have seen before and creating a story with depth, and which has you rooting for Michael and Penelope, individually and as a couple.
Looking forward to reading the second book in the series.