A Rogue by Any Other Name

Sarah MacLean
A Rogue by Any Other Name
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Release Date
February 2012
Book 1 of Rule of Scoundrels
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 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.

Book Review by Bridget (reviewer)
Jan 18, 2013   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
229 people found the following review helpful
There are some books, some precious few books that are too good to reasonably review. I adored this book, from beginning to end, and can't recommend it—or this series—highly enough. From the letters that link our hero and heroine across the years to the power of their newfound love, this is a book to be savored and treasured.

Ten years ago, Michael, Marquess of Bourne lost everything he had to lose—his family, then his honor and his inheritance—all on the turn of a card. He left everything and everyone, including Lady Penelope Marbury, his neighbor and closest friend. Since then, Bourne has devoted his life to his revenge and to winning back his family's estate. He is now a co-owner of The Fallen Angel, which was built from scratch into London's most exclusive gaming hell, where the most powerful men in the Empire beg for admittance. In order to win back his property, however, Bourne will have to take the biggest chance of his life—marrying Penelope and entering society once again as the Marquess of Bourne.

After a broken engagement and years of halfhearted courtships, Penelope has given up most of her dreams of marriage or adventure. But when her father, having acquired Bourne's lost property, attaches it to her dowry in the hopes of attracting a husband, Penelope finds herself almost immediately over her head in a world of wicked desires and scandal and utterly unquenchable hunger. Though Bourne has promised to behave in society like the doting husband she's always wanted, Penelope knows that the man she's always loved is lost in the shadows of his past—and determined to set him free.

Though she is a master of historic romances, one of Sarah MacLean's true gifts lies in capturing the universal in human nature, regardless of time period, and bringing those elements to the forefront of her book. Penelope may realize that her duty is to marry well and to marry quickly, but that doesn't stop her from desperately desiring more—even if she isn't quite sure how to find it. Her strength and resolve are remarkable, and make her capable of standing strong against all the expectations of her family and society. It also gives her the courage to take on Bourne, forcing him not only to confront his own demons, but to acknowledge her as an equal—strong and hungry for life—not the angel of his imagination.

Bourne's outcast status allows him a wonderful amount of freedom, but the pain and blame he carries over the loss of his home and his good name will never allow him to rest, forcing him to become an outcast even in marriage to the one woman he has always loved. His need for revenge is wholly understandable from the first, and the way he went about getting it was hopelessly gripping. It's impossible not to share Bourne's pride in the Angel and all that it stands for in society—that even if Bourne and his partners have been sent to Hell, they will rule it and make others hungry for the power they wield. I adored every description of the world that Bourne had built, and watching how Penelope worked her way into it, loving it as much as the man who created it.

The secondary cast of characters in this series is wonderfully colorful, from Penelope's eccentric family to the other owners of the Angel, whose own pasts no doubt hide similarly fascinating secrets to Bourne. Truly, there is nothing I can say about this story that isn't thoroughly, gushingly wonderful. Even the climax of the story took my breath away, spinning away from the conventional ending I had anticipated and elevating this story from the memorable to the unforgettable.

At the risk of descending into hyperbole, I will simply say that this is one of the best romances—perhaps one of the best books—that I can remember reading. The honesty of the emotions, the fundamental power of the love between our hero and heroine, and the beautiful, lyrical writing all combine to make a book that is almost impossible to put down, and will doubtlessly leave readers starving for another dose of the Rules of Scoundrels, which can't come quickly enough!
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Book Review by Victoria Lane (reviewer)
Feb 22, 2014
178 people found the following review helpful
I concur with Bridget. Some additional comments:

I must say that I liked this book the first time I read it, but a staggering revelation at the end of No Good Duke Goes Unpunished (The Third Rule of Scoundrels) made me decide to re-read all the books a second time. Now I will say that I really liked this book. I think with this series the old adage about the whole being greater than the sum of its parts is true. My enjoyment of the first book in the series was increased exponentially when considered in light of books two and three. Now I am eagerly awaiting book four!

The pace of the novel is great; there is always something happening to move the plot forward, and there are no superfluous scenes. I really liked how the reader is given the backstory of Michael and Penelope's friendship through their letters – much more interesting than heavy narration and occasionally even adds some comedic relief to an otherwise heart-breaking relationship history. To wit, when the declarations of love are spoken, the reader can more easily accept the feelings as having depth and duration. The development of the romantic relationship is believable. It is also on the graphic side, so appropriate for adults only.

The plotline is simple, but not mind-numbingly so, and the other owners of Michael's gaming establishment, The Fallen Angel, provide excellent depth to the plot. Character development is also well done. Narration mixed with direct communication of the characters' thoughts show how the characters come to think the way they do and how their motivations and reasoning changes.

This series is a must read.
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