“I’m going to corrupt you,” he promised her skin, one hand sliding down the swell of her stomach, feeling the way the muscles there tensed and quivered at his touch. “I’m going to turn you from light to dark, from good to bad. I’m going to ruin you.”  She didn’t care. She was his. He owned her in this moment, with this touch. “And do you know how it will feel?”  She sighed the word this time. “Splendid.”

Redonk Nutshell: Man hellbent on revenge forces marriage upon childhood friend in order to fulfill his scheme

Sarah MacLean has one of my favorite historical authors.  She writes witty stories with complex characters.  I was really excited to read her latest, A Rogue by Any Other Name, of her new series, The Rule of Scoundrels.

As a young man, The Marquess of Bourne lost everything in a hand of cards to his former friend, Langton.  Intent on revenge, he throws himself into regaining back a fortune, eventually partnering in a notorious gaming hell known as The Fallen Angel.  When Bourne learns that the ancestral land once his has been dowered to his childhood friend, Penelope Marbury, he takes it upon himself to marry her.  By force, if necessary.  Penny, on the other hand, has had her share of engagement-turned-wrong, and is horrified by her father’s attempt to lure her a husband.  When Bourne shows up and literally sweeps her off her feet in a ploy to ruin her, she acquiesces.  Not so much because she care for her reputation (more for her sister’s), but because, well, she’s bored.  And she used to really like Michael, aka Borne.  In other words, why the hell not?  Unfortunately for the both of them, things get very complicated when their emotions become involved and Bourne is forced to choose between vengeance and love.

I’ll say this first.  This was a very enjoyable tale.  Ms. MacLean rises and meets all the standards I’ve come to expect of her.  There’s wit, adventure and heartache.  What I wasn’t quite prepared for was the underlying darkness of the story.  Bourne, though not at heart an evil man, is not easily likable.  He is very, very dark.  Tortured is an understatement.  He doesn’t make life easy for Penny, though to give him credit he warned her from the get-go that it wouldn’t be.  At times it’s hard to watch him say and do the things he does, given that Penny is such a forgiving person.  And when Bourne finally has his “come to Jesus” moment?  It felt a bit anticlimactic for me, though I can’t really say for sure why.

I enjoyed Rogue, though it is not my favorite of Ms. MacLean’s work.  I am, however, very much looking forward to the next in the Scoundrel series, One Good Earl Deserves a Lover. There’s an intriguing tease at the end of Rogue that had me smiling.

A Rogue by Any Other Name, by Sarah MacLean, 400 pgs, 2/28/12

Rating: C

Romance: 2/5           Raunch: 3.5/5

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