A Rogue by Any Other Name by Sarah MacLean
Published: February 28th 2012 by Avon Books
Source: local library
Synopsis: 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.
My thoughts: I’ve never been a romance reader. I was a complete novice looking to explore the genre, and so I did some browsing to try and find some titles that might work for me. I picked this up based on two very specific recommendations: Rebecca Schinsky at Book Riot (who discusses the Rules of Scoundrels in this post and this post) and this review at NPR. This was the first time I read a historical romance of the mass market paperback variety. And oh my, A Rogue by Any Other Name did not disappoint.
Romances are different from love stories in that they follow certain conventions and there are familiar tropes and inevitable happy endings. I think a big part of selecting the right romance novel has to do with knowing what kind of tropes you enjoy. When I looked at the kind of love stories in literary fiction that get my heart aching, I realized I have a thing for stories about childhood friends turned lovers, so A Rogue by Any Other Name was a good fit for me. Each chapter began with a series of letters that Penelope wrote her childhood friend, Bourne, which give context to the situation they find themselves in as adults. Getting to see how close they were when they were young made their romance very believable.
Penelope was a heroine I could cheer for. Her fierce dedication to her sisters and doing what she can to secure their future happiness was admirable. Though she was dedicated to being “proper” she did allow herself to let go and enjoy her time with Bourne and in the end, didn’t worry about what people would think of her taking up with the owner of a notorious gaming hell.
Another key factor in picking the right kind of romance is finding the right “heat” level. Some people like more chaste romance that leaves the bedroom door closed, others prefer full-on erotica. Sarah MacLean’s writing is somewhere in the middle and hits my sexytimes sweet spot. I’m like Goldilocks and this book is “just right” for me. I’m much more interested in the sexual tension, and MacLean definitely delivers. There’s plenty of action, but it’s steamy without being vulgar and is free of embarrassing euphemisms and the clichéd heaving bosoms.
Well executed subplots and memorable supporting characters made A Rogue by Any Other Name an enjoyable read and I never once found myself skimming. If you’re a dedicated historical romance fan or a romance newbie like me, I recommend The Rules of Scoundrels series for those looking for a sexy, fun read.
The Brazen Bookworm: ” If there’s anything better than a second-chance love story, it’s a second-chance love story with an almost-reformed rake.”
One Good Earl Deserves a Lover by Sarah MacLean
Published: January 29th 2013 by Avon
Source: local library
Synopsis (Goodreads): Lady Philippa Marbury is odd. The bespectacled, brilliant fourth daughter of the Marquess of Needham and Dolby cares more for books than balls, flora than fashion and science than the season. Nearly engaged to Lord Castleton, Pippa wants to explore the scandalous parts of London she’s never seen before marriage. And she knows just who to ask: the tall, charming, quick-witted bookkeeper of The Fallen Angel, London’s most notorious and coveted gaming hell, known only as Cross.
Like any good scientist, Pippa’s done her research and Cross’s reputation makes him perfect for her scheme. She wants science without emotion—the experience of ruination without the repercussions of ruination. And who better to provide her with the experience than this legendary man? But when this odd, unexpected female propositions Cross, it’s more than tempting . . . and it will take everything he has to resist following his instincts—and giving the lady precisely what she wants.
My thoughts: As soon as I finished the first installment in the Rule of Scoundrels series, I immediately placed a hold on the sequel, One Good Earl Deserves a Lover. While I loved Penelope, her science nerd younger sister, Pippa, was even more compelling. She was so quirky and blunt and scientifically minded, I couldn’t help but adore her.
Cross was sexy as hell, and the tension between him and Pippa was off the charts. They had crazy chemistry. There was nothing I didn’t like about the smart ass, scandalous Cross falling for the girl with spectacles.
I am not even kidding, One Good Earl Deserves a Lover is even sexier than the first installment in the series. MacLean walks that fine line between steamy and ridiculous so well, and never pushes too far with description.
I can really appreciate the research and historical details that go into writing Regency romance. Everything from the social customs to the dress to the gaming hells seems authentic and well-executed.
Especially considering how restricted the options to women were at the time, MacLean manages to make her heroines independent and feisty but still believable. Her heroes, while seductive and rakish and deliciously inclined toward scandal, still respect women and have good hearts. They’re a perfect balance between bad boy and gentleman.
I’m certainly not going to become a romance junkie, but every once and a while it’s fun to mix up my reading and give a romance a try. I’m going to keep exploring historical—I plan on checking out some Eloisa James because her name routinely pops up on must-read lists. If you have any other favorites, let me know!
April at Good Books and Good Wine: “Seriously, I love it when nerd girls get together with outlaws.”