Setting: Late Regency 1831
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.
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After very much mostly enjoying Ms. MacLean’s first series Love By Numbers, I figured I would enjoy her next series about four fallen aristocrats living in the underworld of London trying to find their way back to society. A great premise and something different from the usual ballroom and afternoon tea drama. I knew it would be good but not this good. Sarah MacLean has really outdone herself here! I’m so glad I read this book as I can safely say it is one of the best romances I have ever read! 😀
This is a story about two very different people who are thrown together and despite the odds end up falling in love.
The heroine is Penelope Marbury, the jilted fiance from Eleven Scandals to Win a Duke’s Heart who was described in a very unflattering light as ‘the grape’ by that book’s very feisty and scandalous heroine. A very odd choice for a heroine as there was nothing particular special about Penelope except that she is so proper and so perfect. But she really shines in this book and I admired the way MacLean pealed back the perfect, demure (dare I say dull?) exterior and revealed a woman of inner strength and selflessness. She ends being a heroine you quite admire, perhaps more than the usual daring, feisty heroines.
As for the hero, Bourne was not just your typical arrogant, rakish so called ‘bad’ hero with a heart a gold: he really was a scoundrel and he had real problems which took time to overcome, especially his desire for revenge. He was admirable, particularly for driving himself to make a good life for himself as part owner of The Fallen Angel gaming hell after he had everything taken from him.
It wasn’t easy liking these two protagonists and it says something that MacLean manged to make both way more than they first appeared and making us root for their happy ever after. They were amazing together and you really believed they were meant for each other. Putting their childhood letters in at the start of every chapter was a very nice touch and allowed us access to their past association. Alot of their scenes had me sighing and truly touched by the real emotions they held for each other. She had to come to terms with the fact he isn’t the man she used to know and he had to accept the fact that if he wanted a future with her, he had to stop his revenge. There isn’t an easy way out for these two but that makes the ending so much more enjoyable.
MacLean writes in a style that reminds me of Anna Campbell, particularly for this book with its dark undertones and focus on the characters’ feelings. Be warned, this is not a happy, light read. There are moments of lightness though, with lots of funny scenes with Penelope’s sisters and some great scenes between the four heroes of this whole series. I enjoyed the peek into the world of Regency gambling, rife with danger and risk.
I also loved the wit, humor and emotion in her writing. Just when I thought I knew what was going to happen, I was surprised at how things ended up. What an amazing read! 😀
Overall, this book is a great example of what historical romance can be when done right. It is funny, deep, touching, romantic, engaging and thoroughly enjoyable! Some readers might be put off by how ‘prudish’ and ‘dull’ the heroine was at the start but stick with the book and I promise you’ll be surprised. It was a joy reading this book and I’m now very impatient to read book 2 and return to the world of The Fallen Angel!
Sensuality Rating: HOT!
Verdict: Absolutely brilliant. Highly recommended. You won’t be able to put it down!
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars