Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake and I have not looked back so I may be a bit biased in saying that I have loved everything she has since written, including A Rogue By Any Other Name. This book is a bit different though as our hero, Michael, Marquess of Bourne is quite unlikable for a good bit of the book. He forces a marriage of convenience with an old childhood friend, Lady Penelope Marbury and there are many ups and downs but I loved how their deep abiding love for each other finally trumps and Michael becomes a swoon worthy hero to the delightful Penelope.
Bourne lost everything with the turn of a card during a card game and it has shaped him into the man he is today. He is so bent on revenge against the man that took it all from him, nothing else matters but destroying his former guardian and gaining back his family home and lands. It is now ten years later and Bourne is part of a successful gaming hell and he has rebuilt himself financially and when he hears that his land is part of his childhood friend Penelopes dowry, well, he knows what he must do to finally secure his past.
Penelope is thrilled to see Bourne again one snowy night but it quickly becomes evident that this is not the boy from her childhood or the boy she used to correspond with frequently. No, this grown up Bourne is hard, unyielding and cold. She agrees to his 'proposal' as Penelope has already caused a huge scandal in the past (though not from her doing) and she needs to secure good matches for her two younger sisters. Together, they agree to their marriage terms and seal the deal, so to say. Oh, but Bourne seems to have no heart when he shoves Penelope away time and time again--despite there very heated attraction--and it makes Penelope, already at her wits end with the way her life is playing out, buck up and stand up to Bourne.
I will admit, I wasn't sure if I could really grow to love Bourne. He is such a complete jerk for almost the entire book but there were enough glimpses of his own thoughts and the sweet childhood letters that I knew somewhere beneath that hard layer, a man worthy of swoon worthiness was there. I do wish his 'aha' moment happened a bit sooner because when he finally did see the light, Penelope was hard pressed to believe him. And who can really blame her? Bourne would give an inch and then remind her that is was all for show (to prove to society they were truly in love and gain her sisters respectable suitors), Penelope got to be so wound tight it was hard to believe in the gradual change in Bourne. I loved the addition of the letters back and forth, it really added to the story and helped set the tone for the quick marriage of convenience as we could see that our couple had a strong bond as children. This book is sure to have something to please any romance fan--a vengeful man so bent on destruction that he almost misses the thing that will finally make him complete again, a heroine who is smart, plucky, and has a quick comeback for all of Bournes rudeness all set within the glittering world of an elite gaming hell. An absolutely wonderful romance of childhood friends, an unconventional marriage of convenience, revenge and proof that true love heals even the most jaded of hearts. 4 1/2 stars
Oh, but Ms. MacLean? That epilogue was just torture as I want the next book right now. :)
I received this eARC from Avon via netgalley.com
The Rules of Scoundrels series
One Good Earl Deserves a Lover Oct 2012