Sarah MacLean is a relatively new author, but she is an absolute master at creating deeply romantic stories that keep you enthralled even as they break your heart a little bit. Her newest book, A Rogue By Any Other Name, begins a new series featuring four co-owners of a gambling hell, and MacLean is off to a fabulous start.
Goodreads summary: 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 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: If there's anything better than a second-chance love story, it's a second-chance love story with an almost-reformed rake. A Rogue By Any Other Name is just that kind of book, with a hero and heroine who are perfectly matched but who have to overcome some significant obstacles before they get their happy ending. Sarah MacLean does an admirable job of filling us in on Bourne and Penelope's previous acquaintance even while she keeps the book's action current. By doing this, she gives us a completely believable premise for how this couple manages to fall in love when both thought themselves unlovable.
As a heroine, Penelope is funny and sweet, and the reader can't help but admire her for her ability to persevere despite the public desertion by her fiancé. She's decidedly on the shelf, and though she is lonely and self-conscious, she seizes the opportunity to live a different life when Bourne reappears after years away. As for Bourne, he's quite the jackass through much of the story (no, really, he is), but his redemption is all the more dramatic for it. MacLean includes an epilogue that made me forgive much of his earlier behavior, and I was relieved that she did it without removing any of his rogue-ish charm.
The secondary characters, including Penelope's relatives and Bourne's partners, are entertaining and MacLean has set them up well for the rest of the series. She's included a teaser for One Good Earl Deserves a Lover, the second book in the series, and I'm already salivating over it. (I'm not a fan of MacLean's cutesy titles, but don't let those distract you from some truly fabulous romances.) You can't ever go wrong with MacLean, and A Rogue By Any Other Name is now tied with Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake as one of my favorite romances of the past few years.
Publication Date: February 28, 2012
Length: 400 pages