A Rogue by Any Other Name
Avon/February 28, 2012/$7.99
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.
Sarah MacLean takes a couple of well-worn romance tropes—the marriage for fortune and the thirst for revenge—peoples them with engaging characters, and wraps them in some sensuous writing. Oh, and she manages to throw in a little of her trademark humor.
As you can tell from the blurb, the rogue in question is the Marquess of Bourne who, as a young man, lost his inheritance on the turn of a card to the man who was supposed to be his guardian. Michael goes to ground and regains his wealth as a partner in a successful gambling establishment. But he has never been able to regain his land. Then that land suddenly becomes part of the dowry of Lady Penelope Marbury, a childhood friend.
So…we get the rogue compromises lady so he can marry her and get the land plot and the lady has been in love with the rogue all her life plot. But we also get the humor and the description that makes this a book well worth the reading.
We first meet Penelope right after another childhood friend has proposed.
“Penelope!” Lady Needham stood just inside the door to the dining room, stick straight, her hands clenched in little fists, confusing the footmen, frozen in uncertainty, wondering if dinner should be served or not. “Thomas proposed!”
“Yes. I was present for that bit,” Penelope said.
Penelope’s tongue-in-cheek humor is evident on first acquaintance and continues throughout the book, providing the occasional light touch in a fairly tortured beginning to her married life.
Throughout the book, MacLean’s use of sensual description draws us into the plot and connects us with the characters. Happily, this does not conflict with the humor. As Penelope wonders why she does not want to marry Tommy, she enumerates his good points and then:
Those all seemed like suitable characteristics. She imagined taking his hand and allowing him to escort her to a ball, to the theatre, to dinner. She imagined dancing with him. Smiling up at him. She imagined the feel of his hand in hers. It was—It was clammy.
Later, after Michael has compromised Penelope, the humor slides in favor of the sensuousness.
She was lying on her back in the nest of blankets she had arranged before she’d fallen asleep, and she was covered with a large and warm one that smelled wonderful. She buried her frigid nose in the fabric and inhaled deeply, trying to place the smell—a blend of bergamot and tobacco flower. She turned her head. Michael. Shock flared, then panic. Michael was asleep next to her. Well, not exactly next to her. Against her, more like. But it felt like he was all around her.
The description is so immediate that the reader can almost feel Penelope’s sensations. And then—oh my!—as Michael and Penelope grow closer, the reader gets the payoff in the sensual description of two people discovering each other in every way.
But before she could trace the thought, he was lifting her hands and unbuttoning her gloves, sliding them off slowly, the lush stroke of kidskin against flesh ensuring that she would never be able to think of the donning or doffing of a glove as anything other than a sexual act.
There’s more. I think you’ll enjoy reading it.
Myretta is the co-founder and current manager of The Republic of Pemberley, a pretty big Jane Austen web site. She is also a writer of Historical Romance. You can find her at her website, www.myrettarobens.com and on Twitter @Myretta.