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The Rules of Scoundrels #1

A Rogue by Any Other Name

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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.

386 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published February 28, 2012

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About the author

Sarah MacLean

31 books13.3k followers
New York Times, Washington Post & USA Today bestseller Sarah MacLean is the author of historical romance novels. Translated into more than twenty-five languages, the books that make up “The MacLeaniverse” are beloved by readers worldwide.

In addition to her novels, Sarah is a leading advocate for the romance genre, speaking widely on its place as a feminist text and a cultural bellwether. A columnist for the New York Times, the Washington Post and Bustle, she is the co-host of the weekly romance podcast, Fated Mates. Her work in support of romance and those who read it earned her a place on Jezebel.com's Sheroes list and led Entertainment Weekly to call her "the elegantly fuming, utterly intoxicating queen of historical romance."

Sarah is a graduate of Smith College & Harvard University. She lives in New York City.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,477 reviews
Profile Image for Blacky *Romance Addict*.
473 reviews6,304 followers
December 6, 2016
“I am too imperfect for you,” he whispered at her temple.
“You are perfectly imperfect for me.”

I just... I love this book. I love the cover. I love the writing; every single sentence. I enjoyed reading it. I love the plot, oh yes, no better plot than revenge. I love the characters, both of them. But most of all; I love you Sarah MacLean Photobucket Gimme more books like these Photobucket

“You have my land, Penelope,” he whispered at her ear, the sound low and liquid and altogether too distracting even as it sent tremors of anxiety spiraling through her, “and I want it back.”
She shook her head, eyes closed as he wreaked havoc on her senses. “I can’t give it to you.”
He stroked one hand down her arm in a long, lovely caress, taking her wrist in his firm, warm clasp. “No, but I can take it.”

The story

Michael, Marquess of Bourne, lost all he ever had one night in a game of cards. And that night his life made a turn, toward one goal: Revenge. Photobucket
Now a powerful man, co-owner of London's most famous gaming hell, he's prepared to do anything to accomplish his goal, even marry his childhood friend, Lady Penelope Marbury. Photobucket
To up her chance in getting married, Penelope's father increased her dowry, with Michael's lost estate. She doesn't really want to get married, well, she does, but out of love. After learning about the dowry, she goes for a walk in the old estate, and comes across Michael Photobucket But soon her happiness evaporates when said man abducts her and decides to ruin her reputation enough so that she'd have no other choice but to marry him Photobucket

“You’re thinking again.”
She was. She was thinking he was magnificent. “I can’t help it.” She shook her head, reaching for him.
“Then I am not doing it correctly.”
Oh dear. If he kissed her any more correctly, her sanity would be threatened.


I still like the name Michael better <3 Anyway, he was very young when he lost it all, and it was a very hard lesson in life. Having lost his parents too, he had no one to turn to, not for affection, not for support. Photobucket Years later, he is a ruthless man, knows no compassion, and is willing to do absolutely anything to carry out his revenge. He compromises Penelope and marries her, swearing to give her anything she would ever want, aside from his affection. What truobles him the most is that he WANTS to give her his affection. Photobucket
Ah I just loved him. Tortured hero, affraid to love, affraid to get close to anyone, thinking he'll corrupt anything he touches Photobucket My heart just broke for him. Even though, I wanted to hit him a few times, stubborn man! Photobucket
But esentially, he had to choose; revenge or Penelope. Photobucket

“The worst part is that if I don’t send you back, I’m going to want to keep you here.
And you’ll hate me for it.” He closed his eyes and whispered, “You deserve better.”
So much better than me.
“Michael,” she said softly, “there’s no one better. Not for me.”

"She was falling in love with the part of him that ice-skated, played charades, teased her with wordplay, and smiled at her as though she were the only woman in the world. She was falling in love with the kindness that lurked beneath his exterior.
And there was a part of her, dark and quiet, that was falling in love with the rest of him. She did not know how she could manage being in love with all of him. He was too much."


Having no choice but to marry Michael, she asks him to show her passion, exictement, life. Photobucket Although he is nothing like the youth she once knew and loved, she still can't help but be intrigued by him. Attracted by him. And she wants more. More than just a marriage of convenience, she wants to be more to him than a means to an end. BUT, that's exactly what Michael doesn't want. And so he hurts her to keep her away. Photobucket
Boy my heart broke for her too. I understood them both, but the constant suffering, NOT a big fan Photobucket but it was so worth it Photobucket

And one more thing I adored; the letters! Oh those were so sweet, their corespondence when they were childern, and later only on her side Photobucket Just loved!

The ending! Simply PERFECT! The best way for the story and I'm so glad it turned out the way it did! I'd give the book 10 more stars just for that bit Photobucket

This is my favorite quote, and it goes perfectly with the theme of the book (gambling)

“I can’t take small tastes of you, love. I can only gorge on you. You’re irresistible.” He pressed a kiss to her shoulder, his tongue coming out to lave the skin there. “You’re like the rattle of dice. The shuffle of cards. You call to me until I ache with desire for you.” The words were a whisper of breath at the base of her neck. “I could easily become addicted to you.”

To Sarah MacLean:

Profile Image for Samantha.
441 reviews16.8k followers
March 7, 2020
This is one of the best Hades and Persephone retellings I’ve read, mostly because it gets the Persephone characters personality right. She’s a good mix of innocence and wanting adventure and choosing the “underworld”; a battle queen in her own right. This one also added a twist of the characters being childhood friends so there was a history there that made the development of the relationship much more believable. This is my first historical romance but I’d continue with this series and read more from this author.
Profile Image for Baba  .
859 reviews3,873 followers
June 10, 2012


"I want to lay you down in the light of The Angel and make love to you."


Wow, wow, wow! What a fabulous read! *hugging my Kindle* Prepare yourself to be gushed upon.

From revenge to love. Michael intends to corrupt Penelope. He wants to turn her from light to dark, from good to bad. His goal is to totally ruin her. And it will feel so splendid. A Rogue by Any Other Name is such a great example why I love to read HR. *does the happy dance*

Despite my minor issues--a jerk-ish hero and his opinion of being not worthy enough for our lovable heroine and the ending that felt a bit corny and a heroine who was a bit too weepy for my liking--I totally devoured this book. Yeah, seconds and minutes passed. Hours…but it didn't matter. All that mattered was this book and these characters. I want more!

"Do you? Do you see how much I value you? Do you feel it? (…) "I adore you," he whispered. "I wish I could be the man you deserve." She lifted her own hand to capture his at her cheek. "Michael…you can be that man."

Darn, Michael, you deserve Penelope! Just open your mind and your heart and look thoroughly.

London 1831
Michael wants Falconwell back. The land he had lost ten years ago while gambling and vowed to regain. At any cost--even if he had to marry an aging spinster. Their "first" encounter was very entertaining.

"Sirrah! Do not come any closer! I…" she flailed for a decent threat. "I am armed!"
His response was unmoved. "Do you plan to smother me with your muff?"
"You, sir, are not a gentleman."
"Ah. Truth at last."
She took another step back. "I am going home."
"I don't think so, Penelope."

Penelope was a means to an end--the path to Michael's revenge. Every time he touched her or showed her the slightest interest, it was for his benefit and his goals. Naturally, Penelope didn't want to be a part of his revenge though. Well, Michael is rather surprised to discover that this woman, this marriage means so much more to him. It scared him.

Yes, I love it! Yes, I totally dig the characters, the witty, richly-textured and wonderful dialogue and most of all…the love scenes…they left me gloriously breathless. My oh my, this woman knows how to write utterly sensual and erotic love scenes. A Rogue by Any Other Name displays romance at its best. I adored the kissing and touching. It was so well-written. Kudos, Ms. MacLean! Boy, I was consumed with excitement, with breathlessness while reading A Rogue by Any Other Name. Even though there are not a lot of love scenes, they were so well-placed. That said, they were there because the path of anticipation has been exhausted and I was on the brink of being combusted.

He wanted her that moment. Immediately. Without hesitation. So he lifted her in his arms and carried her up the stairs. Up to decadence. Up to pleasure.

Oh, yes, Michael's adventuresome beauty will discover how utterly sensual and erotic love-making can be. And even though Penelope is not a beauty in the common sense, we all know that beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. Michael believes that Penelope is a beauty and love makes you feel beautiful and cherished, after all.

The characters are splendid. Michael and Penelope are complex and very interesting. Penelope knows how to speak tartly and I relished her smart mouth. Michael. The jerk. Most of the time a jerk makes a good hero, and the dark and brooding Michael was a great hero. Furthermore, it didn't hurt at all that he was so handsome and he was perfect with his hands and mouth. I can't deny that his sexual prowess was fabulous and I loved his deadpan humor. Overall it was such a pleasure to witness their evolving relationship.

Guess what? The author portrayed many intriguing secondary characters in this book and I'm utterly convinced that Cross and Lady Philippa's story will be another winner when I was reading this:

"Well, since you came all the way here…how may I be of service, Lady Philippa?" She took a deep breath. Released it. "I require ruination. And I hear you are an expert in the subject."

I can't wait to read their story. Patience, Baba…

A Rogue by Any Other Name is a wonderfully penned and witty HR. I am so glad that I discovered another great HR author. I'm off reading Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake.

Profile Image for UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish.
1,166 reviews1,636 followers
March 5, 2013

A Rogue by Any Other Name is the first book in Sarah MacLean’s The Rules of Scoundrels series and from the first page to the last is filled with emotion – happiness, heartbreak, passion, romance – a truly fabulous story!

I often find, with historical romances, that the rules society has placed on the women can make them seem mousey and pathetic, so I love it when an author takes those women and makes them strong enough to laugh at their peers – or at least not care enough to conform to what’s expected of them. That always makes for some funny, sexy stories, and that’s what Ms. MacLean has done with A Rogue by Any Other Name.
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.
I thoroughly enjoyed the Love By Numbers series – in fact, I’ve often said that if I could choose to be any heroine from a historical romance novel, it would be Lady Calpurnia Hartwell from Nine Rules to Break When Romancing A Rake. She’s strong, independent, feisty, funny… I’d be her in a heartbeat, but to be honest, I feel that way about most of Sarah MacLean’s heroines. Rarely do I get as attached to the heroine of a story as I do to the hero, but with this author’s books, I always do. But I digress….

Our hero, Michael, Marquess of Bourne, is horrible! He’s not just an ass, he’s a pain in the ass! And I adored every single bit of him! You just know that in the end, he’s going to get his, and watching it come about is just so much fun! We go from him devising his plan for revenge, then watching him carry it out, knowing that he never considers - not even for a moment - that it won’t go as flawlessly as he expected. Then we see, bit by bit, the transformation; the shock when he starts to question his motives, his feelings, his true wants and desires. I absolutely love watching this transformation!

Our heroine, Lady Penelope Marbury, truly is my kind of woman. As I said above, Sarah MacLean is one of the few authors who can write heroines who are as perfect as her heroes. Penelope is, in some ways, a victim of her times, but she doesn’t let those suffocating rules of society keep her from having an “adventure”. I LOVE this about her! She reminds me somewhat of Lady Calpurnia, and perhaps that’s why I adore her so much. She didn’t sit about whimpering or simpering as she did her needlework, waiting for something exciting to happen. Nope! She found ways to create her own excitement. I love how she took life by the horns and didn’t let go!

And the story! Oh, my goodness! Take a rake – or in this case, a rogue – and give him a truly compelling, believable need for revenge, then toss in an innocent, but not naïve, heroine, and you have the makings of an incredible story, and that’s what this one is. Twists, turns, heartache and happiness – never a dull moment and I adored every word!

The bottom line: It probably goes without saying, but I can’t say it enough – I love this story! It was filled with emotion and had me laughing, sighing and fanning myself, start to finish. Sarah MacLean is one of the few “auto-buy” authors on my list, and books like A Rogue by Any Other Name is why.

I am soooo looking forward to the next book in the series, One Good Earl Deserves a Lover and cannot wait to watch Penelope’s sister, Lady Philippa Marbury, match wits with the man known only as Cross, the bookkeeper of the The Fallen Angel gaming hell. That is a story guaranteed to deliver everything I crave in historical romance, and a story not to be missed!
February 8, 2013
After having read so many insipid, good, but uncomplicated Regency romances lately, this book was a breath of fresh air for me.

The Marquess of Bourne had a dissolute youth, and lost his family estate to of at through a game of cards, and decides to make it his mission in life to get his estate back as well as get revenge on the man who won it from him (Viscount Langford and his innocent son, Tommy). Frankly, I think that Langford did him a favor, since that was the kick in the ass that got him off his ass and doing something with his life. 10 years later, Bourne finds out that Langford lost the estate to his childhood friend, Lady Penelope's father, and the estate is tied to her dowry. Penelope has survived a scandal of being jilted by her fiancée, a duke, years ago, and her reputation has suffered since. Her father is determined to marry her off, and the addition of the Falconwell estate is designed to attract a bevy of suitors.

Bourne, determined as hell to get his estate back, all but kidnaps and compromises Penelope, and all but forces her to marry him. The marriage is off to a bad start, filled with negotiations and threats, more of a business deal than anything resembling love. Penelope misses her childhood friend, who is now an unrecognizable shadow of himself, hell-bent on revenge and nothing else. They pretend to be in love in the eyes of the Ton, but the early days of marriage is fraught with Bourne ignoring her and his own heart, and a fair bit of misunderstanding.

Halfway through the book, to my delight, Bourne realizes he has been an asshole, and starts trying to make it up to her; Penelope is suspicious, a leopard doesn't change his stripes, after all. Their reconciliation is sweet, but Bourne's need for revenge consumes him and threatens to tear them apart.

I really liked this book, I liked the other members of the Fallen Angels Club, and look forward to reading their stories. I especially disliked Olivia, Penelope's sister, who is a frilly, fluffy, empty-headed girl, and hope she will get her own book later on when she matures.
Profile Image for Stacia (the 2010 club).
1,045 reviews3,983 followers
December 13, 2012
I choose you. I choose love.

And the world says, "aww..."

I think my weeks-long book slump finally ended when I decided to go back and finish the second half of this. It's really too bad that I seem to have a roadblock every single time I try out a new Historical Romance author. No other genre works me over in such a way, to where I'm stuck in an exact idea of what I want to be reading (a.k.a. Kleypas type of wit), and if my ideals are not met right away, I tend to balk and kick my feet until someone slaps me on the back of the head and tells me to snap out of it.

Thankfully, I snapped out of it. After knocking back a couple of PNR's, I finally put my big girl pants on and buckled down to read A Rogue by Any Other Name. I'm so happy that I continued on! Once I got used to the author's style of writing, I was able to sink into the story. Even though wit was not very prominent in the execution, MacLean still delivered with a not-too-formal flow, which made my read even more palatable the further I progressed.

This really was an 'aww' type of tale. There's something about childhood friends-turned enemies-turned lovers which appeals to me. Chemistry is not easily developed in many stories, but I fell in love with this couple who conversed over the years of separation through letters. And one day, those letters stopped. A revenge plan set in motion started a path of ruin in what could have been a long and lovely friendship.
If there was one thing of which she was certain, it was that Bourne would never allow her to be hurt.
Unless, of course, he was doing the hurting.

But oh yes...the best passion can come from immense conflict.
"I'm going to make love to you on this fur. You're going to feel it against every inch of you, and the pleasure I give you will be more than you've ever imagined."

I'm sure that PETA will not approve of the above statement. Ah well.

Speaking of PETA, this phrase made me think of the phrase 'tastes like chicken.'
She tasted like innocence.

So of course, I can't just keep in the sweet romance frame of mind...oh no...my mind immediately goes to an image best used for a horror book.
Image hidden inside, click only if you dare!

But anyway...my mind goes to strange places. You all know that about me by now.

I ended up enjoying this for what it was - a lovely little historical romance. I'll be checking out book 2 in the near future.
Profile Image for Mo.
1,363 reviews2 followers
March 31, 2014

"I’m going to corrupt you"

Again, I ask myself why do I only dip into Historicals a few times a year? This was a great book. Loved the heroine. Loved the hero. Love stories where he vows to himself that he will not be lured by a woman and fall in love…. But of course it does happen!

"You’re like the rattle of dice. The shuffle of cards. You call to me until I ache with desire for you"

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.

"I am too imperfect for you," he whispered at her temple.
"You are perfectly imperfect for me."

"First, I thought we'd already established that I am not a gentleman. That ship sailed long ago. And second, you'd be surprised what gentlemen do...and what ladies enjoy."

“He was struck dumb at the words though he should not be surprised; his wife kept him in a perpetual state of speechlessness.”

Profile Image for Jilly.
1,838 reviews6,249 followers
September 20, 2015
Back in ye old days, marriage was a business transaction - all about what would look good on paper. So, many of these Regency Era books have the formula of a marriage first, then a love story where the husband and wife fall in love. This is one of those tales.
once upon a time photo: Once upon a time... tagyoureit-1.gif
and he was kind of a dick...

This is your typical bad boy tricks girl into marrying him, treats her like crap, she falls for him anyway, he realizes he loves her back stories. And, yet, it is cute, funny, and I find that I am a sucker for these kind of books.

Why do we fall for the "misunderstood" bad-boy who treats us like crap, girls? Why? Are we just gluttons for punishment?

stop hitting yourself photo: angel stop hitting yourself stop-hitting-yourself.gif
stop hitting yourself

Or, is it perhaps that all of these romance novels give us a false idea that if we could change them, they would be the best husband/boyfriend ever?

Here's the thing, though. These books are fiction. Men don't really change. Sure, they can grow-up and become better husbands and fathers than their younger self would have been. But, if a guy is a raging asshole with major anger-management problems - he's going to stay a raging asshole with anger-management problems.

ok, ok, most guys don't change!!

And, that's my lesson for today.

Oh, and by the way, this book is cute and funny.
Profile Image for Elizabeth (Liz).
625 reviews393 followers
April 26, 2012
- The Story (taken from back-cover blurb) -

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 -

Love, love, love this book! It's a good choice for those who enjoy a 'jerky hero', to borrow a phrase from GR pal Alyssa;-)

Bourne is dark, and working hard to be somewhat awesomely, unrepentantly villainous. He's my kind of hero, that's for sure:) Think Anne Stuart-lite (*very* lite, but, still...). Little does Bourne know that it will be impossible to keep his distance, physically and emotionally, from his lady wife. Ahhh, they ALL believe they can succeed at that, don't they? It's a be-a-u-tiful thing to watch them fail:)

Lady Penelope is 29, and 'on the shelf', as they say. However, she has never stopped thinking of and, maybe somewhat secretly, pining for her childhood friend, now the Marquess of Bourne. This one's a girl after my own heart! By God, she's tired of being proper and doing what her family demands of her. And, once she marries Bourne, all bets are off! She's going to have adventures and a life of her own regardless of what her husband thinks. Yet, still, with an innate kindness and strong sense of responsibility, she does this in her own quiet, charming way.

Bourne and Penelope are electric together! One can't help but enjoy them immensely!! This story has everything one could want: emotion, a reluctant hero, a kind but adventurous heroine, and some yummy, steamy scenes! I am SO looking forward to the next book!! The men of The Fallen Angel are sexy and fascinating!

- My Favorite Quote -

"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."

Don't be a major dolt like Bourne had an occasional tendency to be;) Grab this book, read, and ENJOY!

5 Big Stars!
Profile Image for S.
384 reviews91 followers
May 3, 2015

She realized how little she wanted a quiet life of pastel colors and quadrilles and tepid lemonade. She wanted more.

*Happy sigh* What a wonderful book! Sometime you stumble on these HR gems that makes you smile, gush and wish you lived in a different time. Sarah McLean is a wonderful author!

"Sirrah! Do not come any closer! I…", she flailed for a decent threat. "I am armed!"
His response was unmoved. "Do you plan to smother me with your muff?"
"You, sir, are not a gentleman."
"Ah. Truth at last."

I loved the writing and I loved the story! Set in 1831, we meet Penelope and Bourne. They were childhood friends but they have been estranged since Bourne lost everything in a card game ten years ago. He has rebuilt his wealth through a gaming hell and when his former lands are attached to Penelope’s dowry he returns.

I loved Penelope! She is sound and she is funny. She takes the whole kidnapped to marriage in stride and I just adored her. Often the hero is the book, but in this one Penelope is just as important. She wants adventure.

Some books are too good for words! It is a marriage-of-convenience fake-betrothal friends-to-lovers story. And it is set in beautiful winter. I could feel the setting. It is alive and colorful! I loved the ice skating on the lake, the roasted chestnuts and the roulette. Every character is fabulous and I cannot wait for the next one!

Profile Image for Nicolette.
118 reviews106 followers
October 12, 2021
EDIT: bumping up to 5 stars because I am realizing how much I actually loved Penelope and Bourne. I keep coming back and re-reading some scenes from their book. Loved the angst in this.

“Don’t look so miserable. Thank your stars you’ll finally have yourself a husband. With Falconwell in your dowry, you could win yourself a prince.” Lady Penelope Marbury used to be the darling of the ton but then everything had changed when her engagement to the the Duke of Leighton was broken off. Years later, the broken engagement is still whispered about by the ton. At 28, she is considered a spinster. But the love match between the Duke and Duchess of Leighton made Penelope realize that she wanted something more in a marriage. Love. And so, she hasn't really accepted anyone's proposal of marriage in years. A decade ago, Michael, Marquess of Bourne, lost everything. Except his title. Now, he's wealthier than he's ever been but he does not have the one thing he truly wants; Falconwell. The land that was his that he gambled away all those years ago. And if the land comes with a bride, so be it.

A Rogue by Any Other name is Lady Penelope Marbury (Simon's ex fiancee) and Michael, Marquess of Bourne's book. Well, it seems I'm on a "Rogue/Scoundrels" binge. I can't help it. I love those kind of heroes. I won't take a shit from a man in real life, but I surely tolerate it a lot in fiction.

When we first meet Penelope in Simon and Juliana's book, she seemed shallow and just like every other aristocrat, thinks of marriage as a duty. She was well-liked, considering that she almost made the match of the decade. Until, she didn't. The engagement was overshadowed by her fiance's love match. Penelope realized that marriage could be something more. That there could be marriages that are purely for love. And deep inside, she hoped for that.

Michael, on the other hand, has been fueled by revenge. He worked very hard to restore the wealth that he lost. Now he's three times richer, with more money than any man could spend in a lifetime. But he isn't happy. He wants Falconwell. And he wants to ruin the man who took it all and ruined him. His reputation is besmirched. He was young and a fool, liked the feeling of winning and never knowing when to stop. Until he lost it all. After years of waiting, Falconwell seems perfectly attainable. He just needs to marry Lady Penelope, his childhood friend.

Penelope, Michael and Tommy were best friends. Penelope has always liked Michael best. She wrote letters to him when he was in Eton. Wrote letters to him when his parents had died. Wrote letters to him even when he did not reply anymore. Wrote letters to him that remained unsent. They haven't seen each other in more than a decade and so Penelope was very happy to recognize Michael when she was going out for a walk in the night in her land (Falconwell, technically). But that happiness quickly vanished when she realized that he isn't the same man that she loved so dearly as a friend. He was Forcing her hand in marriage in order to have Falconwell back. But at least his intentions were true, he did not even try to lie to her. She was already full of guilt, thinking of accepting Tommy's proposal. After all, she's not getting any younger and she has sisters to think of. She has to get married so that her sisters could make excellent matches. Being a spinster isn't a good look, especially as the eldest daughter of a double marquess. And so, she accepted Michael's offer.

I liked Penelope's character because she was a selfless girl but she did not let Michael walk all over her. What I did not like was the silly "Adventures" she craved. Like, what? going to a gambling club that your husband owned isn't an adventure. Surely, it was exciting but that's just that. It felt silly. And she reminded me of Lady Calpurnia's silly list. Which I did not like very much. Aside from that, I liked her enough to root for her happy ending. As for the hero, Michael, I liked him. Sure he was an ass. But that was expected. The title is literally "A rogue by any other name". But my god, he was frustrating! Pushing his wife away, saying things that he did not mean and regrets later on and feeling like he was not enough for her. His reputation is ruined while his wife has been a proper lady all her life. Penelope did not feel enough for her husband as well. Like, they are so frustrating! I wanted to slap some sense to the both of them. Just! Talk! Stop! Assuming! Things! The hero is also very immature for most part of the book, wanting nothing but to ruin viscount Langford, Tommy's father. Who also used to be his friend. I was glad that he did not stoop so low. He was afraid of losing his wife if he continued with the revenge shit he has going on, so....besides, Tommy was likeable. So he was a bastard. Who cares? The ton, surely. But he does not deserve to suffer for his father's doing.

Over all, it was a really engaging book. I have at least 500 annotations. It was frustrating but it was that engaging. I was rooting for Penelope and Michael from the start. I loved their first meeting after decades of not seeing each other. Their chemistry was off the charts so I had no choice but to root for them. The letters at the beginning of each chapters made me smile and made me sad too, depending on what it contained. This book served the childhood friends-strangers-lovers trope well and I loved every bit of it.

This particular paragraph made me sad, "She’d written him letters, dozens of them over several years before her father had refused to mail any more. After that, she’d continued to write, hoping that he would somehow know that she was thinking of him. That he would always have friends at Falconwell . . . in Surrey . . . no matter how alone he might have felt. She’d imagined that one day, he’d come home. But he hadn’t returned. Ever." Penelope was so loyal to him. And the fact that Michael never responded... but he did keep the letters which redeemed him to me.

"But in the darkest hours, on the coldest nights, when I felt I’d lost everything, I still had your letters. And through them, in some small way, I still had you. I loved you then, my darling Penelope, more than I could imagine—just as I love you now, more than you can know." Perfect! Sure, she was to be a duchess. But being Bourne's marchioness doesn't seem so bad. They were perfect for each other and I loved them!
Profile Image for Dinjolina.
525 reviews510 followers
March 30, 2012
The books started out fabulously. It was solid, fun, witty, and angsty.
I was sure it will be perfect!

And it was, up untill about half way trough. Then it was just flat. Not bad, per se...but almost boring. It seemed like after the hero's turn-around everything was done in a straight line. Even the famous card scene with the heroine and the eeeeevil enemy left me cold.

Also, a lot of things were never adressed. Like Mrs.Worth. The very young servats. The mistress-should-live-here-not-a-normal-family type of their house. And their future sleeping arrangements.

All in all, the book could have been grand, but crumbled under pressure and angsty brooding (drama non-)goodness.
Profile Image for Susan Phillips.
Author 46 books14.7k followers
March 1, 2016
The perfect place to start reading Sarah MacLean is with the first of her Rule of Scoundrels series. One of the very best of today’s historical romance authors.
Profile Image for Laura.
Author 15 books600 followers
February 26, 2012

My very first thought as I started this book, perhaps two chapters in, was “The hero is such a bastard!” followed by, “Good. They always fall the hardest.” I wasn’t wrong.

Bourne is playing a game of cards with Viscount Langford, his best friend’s father, and his guardian, when he loses. Not just loses, but loses big. Bourne loses everything. Langford purposely goaded Bourne and pushed him into wagering his holdings. Langford’s reasoning was that he’d been the one tending the lands and properties, he didn’t want to give it up to the young Marquess after all his hard work. Langford got greedy. So he pushed Bourne. And Bourne lost.

With nothing more than a shilling and the clothes on his back, Bourne becomes a self-made businessman, and one of the owners of the gaming hell Fallen Angel. Bourne is now worth easily triple what he lost, but he wants his property, his history, his legacy back. He’s spent a decade trying to buy, cheat or steal it all back. Then it is finally within his grasp.

Penelope, fondly referred to in Eleven Scandals as “the Grape,” was ruined after Leighton let her break their engagement. Not in that way, oh no. Her reputation may be pristine, but no one wants the girl who couldn’t keep Leighton, the Duke of Disdain. It forced two of her sisters’ marriages and has cast a shameful pall over her other sisters. In an ironic twist of fate, her father gains Bourne’s old lands, and adds it to her dowry. Bourne goes after his lands, and if Penelope, is in his way, so be it.

the letters at the beginning of each chapter are surprisingly well done and achingly bittersweet. Penelope and Bourne were childhood friends, borderline sweethearts, and I think that is the main reason this romance worked so well for me. Each letter is a glimpse into their relationship, and into how much he’s changed, until he no longer responds to her, then finally she no longer sends them.

Bourne purposely compromises Penelope, flaunts it in front of her father to force the marriage, because all he wants is his property. But one thing Penelope makes him realize is that he has never looked beyond getting his land and ruining Langford. What happens once he’s reached that goal? Will he be happy?

My favorite part of this book is when Bourne decides to court his wife. It’s a scene where Penelope is going ice skating with her sisters, and Bourne…changes. I felt that was his critical moment, the moment where if he didn’t do something he would lose her, and that was unacceptable, no matter what he’d said before.

I love Sarah MacLean’s voice and the characters she’s created. I rather liked the jerk of a hero, even though he was ridiculously rude to the heroine. But Bourne is supposed to be an ass. It makes it that much sweeter when he falls. When he falls for his wife, he doesn’t know how to keep her, he knows only that he’ll never let her go.

eARC courtesy of Avon via edelwiess
Profile Image for KatLynne.
547 reviews564 followers
June 3, 2012
Sarah MacLean has become one of my favorite HR authors. I enjoy her writing style and I find myself highlighting nearly every three or four pages. It’s like, “Oh my, I just love how she said that,” and I have to stop and do the Kindle highlight thing:) I crave dialogue in my novels and this one doesn’t disappoint! It is sexy, witty, poignant and refreshing! While there are a few places that could be referred to as “cheesy,” it still worked for me and I loved it!

The young Michael, Marquess of Bourne, has lost EVERYTHING with the turn of a card! He’d been fleeced! He walks away with little more than his disgraced title. At the age of twenty one, Bourne’s entire life becomes full of hatred and he vows revenge and restitution. For the next nine years, that is what fuels his every decision. He is now one of four partners in London’s most exclusive Gaming Hells and is richer by far than most. Still, it is not enough. The only thing he wants more than his former home, Falconwell, is to destroy the one who took it from him.

Penelope Marbury was first introduced in the third installment of SM’s Love By Numbers Trilogy. The scandal that led up to her father breaking her engagement to the Duke of Leighton has ruined her chances of a good match. Even though she is innocent of any wrongdoing, broken engagements were always blamed on the woman. Once considered the most darling of darlings of the ton, now, years later, she finds herself a spinster with a family desperate to see her wed. But Penelope wants MORE! This compassionate and smart young woman yearns to be wanted and loved. But it seems an impossible goal. Her father insists she must marry. Recently winning Falconwell in a card game, he places this property as part of her dowry, hoping this will attract more suitors.

And so begins the journey of Penny and Michael. They were childhood friends until the loss of his estates. She hasn’t seen or heard from him since his defeat. Obtaining Falconwell is the only thing that gives him purpose and he doesn’t care who gets hurt in the process. He ruthlessly pursues Penny ensuring their marriage. Penny quickly learns the boy she once knew is gone and doesn’t recognize this hard and bitter man. And once again her choices are taken from her …by a man.

Penny’s life as well as most women of the day has been ruled by the demands and whims of men; first her father, then as Leighton’s fiancé, and now Michael. Now, she is trapped by a man once again.

I liked this woman. She transforms into a beautiful, smart young lady who stands up for herself. She desires adventure and is no longer satisfied to settle for pastels! Michael, “wicked as sin and twice as handsome” has her heart yearning for so much more! And he soon finds himself no longer able to resist his desire for Penny.

“I am going to explore you…to discover your heat and softness, every bit of your decadence.” ….”You make my mouth water.” He loved the taste of her, a “drug of which he could never have enough.”

I loved this book - The sensual pull, the banter between these two, the laugh out loud moments, and the heartbreak of unrequited love and a heart that cannot get past feelings of unworthiness. And still, so, so much more than I’ve stated! Sarah MacLean had me so invested I didn’t want to stop until the end! And with the teaser added for the next installment, I can hardly wait!
Profile Image for NMmomof4.
1,548 reviews3,989 followers
November 16, 2021
3 Stars

Overall Opinion: This was just alright for me. It felt too slow at times and I wanted the shake the h more than once. I wanted her to have a little more self respect. She was pretty good for outward appearances, but her inner dialogue was painful to read sometimes because of her inability to accept things. I also felt like the ending was frustrating. We get them finally coming together on a deeper level right at the end and then it goes straight to an epilogue that isn’t even about them. A jump into their future with a more concrete HEA would’ve gone a long way for me.

Brief Summary of the Storyline: This is Penelope and Michael’s story. Years prior, Michael lost everything to a man that was supposed to be an ally in a card game and he has worked hard to get everything back and get revenge on this man. When his main ancestral home changes owners and becomes part of his childhood friend’s dowry, he knows how he can get it back. After Michael makes it so she has no choice but to marry him, Penelope marries the stranger that once was one of her dearest childhood friends. There is some hot and cold, some sexy times, and some drama…and they get a HEA ending.

Point Of View (POV): This alternated between focusing on Penelope and Michael in 3rd person narrative.

Overall Pace of Story: Alright. It felt slow at times but I never skimmed.

Instalove:No, they knew each other growing up and feelings were already (kinda) developed when reunited

H (Hero) rating: 3 stars. Michael/Bourne. He was alright. He tried to protect the h in a way that could’ve been done a lot better.

h (heroine) rating: 2.5 stars. Penelope. She was alright but then her martyr act for her sisters and everyone else got old quick. I also cringed a few times with her persistence to hope for love from the H after he told her things that would suggest it wouldn’t happen.

Sadness level: Low, no tissues needed

Push/Pull: Yes

Heat level: Alright. They have some tension, chemistry, and scenes -- but not so much it takes away from the story.

Descriptive sex: Yes

OW (Other Woman)/OM (Other Man) drama: No, other than some mild jealousies

Sex scene with OW or OM: No

Cheating: No

Separation: No

Possible Triggers: Not really

Closure: This has an epilogue that focuses on (what I think will be) the next couple in the series. This was frustrating. I would still (grudgingly) call this a HEA even though there isn’t that much progress in their relationship

Safety: This one should be Safe for most safety gang readers
Profile Image for Somia.
2,061 reviews135 followers
November 25, 2020
This book was a delightful treat, the type of book you want to curl up with as you a transported away. There’s a richness to this story that was unexpected, and which ensured I was engrossed.

In this story MacLean gives us Michael, Marquees of Bourne, who in a night of gambling and betrayal at the age of 21 lost all, and gained a deep thirst for revenge and a drive to gain back all that he had lost. Then there is strong and intelligent Lady Penelope Marbury, Michael’s childhood friend but also someone he uses in his driving need for revenge. Watching the conflict and tension in Michael as his desire for Penelope and all she promised clashed with his longing for revenge was overall riveting, MacLean knows how to draw the reader in.

This is an interesting book, written well, with MacLean taking the bones of a story we have seen before and creating a story with depth, and which has you rooting for Michael and Penelope, individually and as a couple.

Looking forward to reading the second book in the series.
Profile Image for Kezia Duah.
394 reviews344 followers
September 14, 2021
Awww, this was so cute. The pace was also really good. Basically if you like romances set in the regency period, you should enjoy this one.
Great job MacLean!

Favorite quote:
“You are perfectly imperfect for me.”
Profile Image for Yolanda.
631 reviews165 followers
January 22, 2018
4ª vez que lo leo y....ME ENCANTA!!!!

Es la 3ª vez que leo este libro y me dan ganas de leer toda la serie otra vez.
Me gusta mucho como escribe Sarah MacLean y los personajes que crea. Aquí tenemos a Bourne, que lleva 10 años viviendo para vengarse, duro, frío y al que no le importa nada con tal de llevar a cabo su venganza. Es un canalla de esos que me gustan, me encanta.
Penélope, qué delicia. A sus 28 años, considerada una solterona, sobrevive al escándalo de verse abandonada por su prometido (la conocimos en la serie Love by numbers). Con ganas de vivir aventuras, se ve envuelta, sin querer (o queriendo) en otro escándalo. Conoce a Bourne desde siempre y sus cartas a Michael son una delicia.
No es una historia de esas novedosas, fuera de clichés, pero la manera en la que Sarah MacLean las escribe, esa manera dulce, con diálogos entretenidos y protagonistas femeninas inteligentes y fuertes, me encanta. Me atrapan desde el primer momento.
Nos da a conocer a los protagonistas de los próximos libros de la serie. Es una serie que me encanta y que volveré a leer.
Profile Image for Joanna Loves Reading.
583 reviews221 followers
September 29, 2021
I loved this the first time I read, but it is probably more of a right-mood kind of book. It is quieter and some things seem like trends that may have passed . I have grown away from Maclean’s writing and I thought this reread might determine if it was her writing that changed or my tastes. Predictably, it seems to be a bit of both. Some of my problem is just that I am mostly over the scene/settings of the Regency period among the rogues and aristocracy. This story has been done before and better for the most part. It has some sweet and swoons moments (Maclean does do swoons well), but it’s just not all that interesting.

5 stars first time through, probably more than 5 years ago
3 stars reread
Profile Image for Lorena Rabelo.
75 reviews10 followers
December 4, 2013
This book was all kinds of awful, I just can’t believe it got such high ratings! All I wanted to do now was to write a really mean review, but I’m so pissed I spent my time (hours of my weekend I should have used to write my papers or at least read something better) with it I can’t even get the sentences right..

And it should also mean something that I’m not hard to please when it comes to historical romances. Seriously, I can read pretty much anything and be happy about it when the book is minimally well-written or creative. This one was none. I don’t really think Sarah MacLean wanted to write a book; honestly, I could even say she was forced into doing it, somehow. That is, why else would someone repeat the same scenes, the same sentences, same arguments, same everything over and over as if the point was just to put together a romance novel big enough to look respectable but with the content and plot of a (very) short story? If she wasn’t coerced into it then she’s just lazy, and I’m not sure which is worse.

Oh, do you remember that whole old show-don’t-tell thing? Well, she does just the opposite. More than that, actually, she takes the telling to a whole new level and lies to you in the process! She constantly describes what her stupid characters are thinking, what they believe in, what their personalities are like and when it comes to the real action there’s nothing new in there, nothing to reveal a side of the character you didn’t know existed.

As to character development, it was way to forced for me to believe there was any development at all. For example: Bourne marries Penelope because his family land (which he lost years ago in gambling) is part of her dowry. He clearly wants nothing to do with her and even though they were best friends when children he would never had come back for her if it weren’t for the land. The way I saw it, Penelope is plain, boring, not interesting at all. Oh, and she’s also a 28-year-old virgin spinster who had a failed engagement to a man she didn’t give shit about nine years ago but never recovered from it (and she uses it repeatedly as an argument for her being unhappy and having suffered her whole life in the hands of men). Well, they get married, Penelope and Bourne, and he takes her to bed to seal the deal and make sure she cannot call the marriage off. Remember that, she’s a 28-year-old virgin (!!!!) and he’s a very experienced lover, as the author likes to say, and when he bangs her it is the best sex of his whole life!!!

Come on, now? We all know this is bullshit. And it was also the worse sex scene I’ve ever read: I feel asleep while reading it, and it has never ever happened to me before, so how do you want me to believe it was so mind-blowing it changed the man and made him fall in love with a whiny woman too plain for anyone to marry in nine frigging years?! And there’s also the fact that in every freaking page of this book we read about how corrupt, dangerous and evil Bourne is but I didn’t see him acting like one even once; not to mention that Penelope blabs and blabs about wanting to live an adventure and the only thing she does is going to her husband's gaming hell, not even someone else’s but her husband’s, somewhere she’d always be completely safe.

I think everything I wrote must sound really confusing, but I’m not in the mood to edit it right now. Sorry.

All I know is that I had high hopes for it in the beginning, after the first two chapters I kept hoping it would get better, then it didn’t and I started skimming through the sentences, paragraphs and finally whole pages until I couldn’t take it anymore and just jumped to the epilogue. I don’t know if it was MacLean’s first book or something; maybe if she was to rewrite it today she’d do a better job.


P.S.: Someone please buy this woman a thesaurus, you can even send me the bill.
Profile Image for Lauren.
1,153 reviews110 followers
September 13, 2021
This book was somewhere between okay and good. I couldn't decide!

The book started off with an interesting plot but kind of fizzled out. The H avoided the h and the h waited dutifully at home. She was too mature! I never thought I'd say that but, she needed some spunk.

The last 100pgs of the book the author does redeem herself. The h finally stands up for herself and the H starts to fall in love. He has to decide if revenge is worth the cost.

Sidenote: I loved the last poker game in the book. It was fantastic! Best part of the book.

I also liked how each chapter starts out with their letters to each other as kids. It reminded me of "Invitation To Passion ' by Bronwen Evans. Unfortunely, the latter had much better chemistry between the MC.

All in all, the book was well written but was missing the chemistry.I think I will give this author another try. Her secondary characters were intriguing.
Profile Image for Laurie  (barksbooks).
1,753 reviews700 followers
September 6, 2016
I listened to this book as an unabridged audiobook read by Rosalyn Landor. She does a fine rather snooty job with the narration which fits the historical setting and a fabulous job with the heroine but when it comes time to do to the manly voices I cringed a little. I would’ve much rather had a male voicing the guy parts but they didn’t ask me.

It’s been a bit since I’ve read a historical romance and this one had a lovely leisurely setup that introduced the relationship between childhood friends Michael and Penelope by letters they wrote when they were children and via flashbacks to their friendship. It gave me high hopes for the relationship to come.

As a young man, Michael lost everything in a moment of overeager stupidity and has spent the past decade working to reclaim what was once his. He disappeared from Penelope’s life and hasn’t been there when she’s needed a friend. Because her daddy wants her married off, and soon, he’s attached some very attractive land to Penelope’s dowry. Land that once belonged to Michael, land Michael will do almost anything to get back . . .

Can you see where this is going?

So yeah, Michael suddenly re-enters her life and pretty much steamrolls over it to get what he wants. He doesn’t seem anything like the Michael from the letters and that made me a little sad for Penelope who was so genuinely happy to see her old friend when they meet up again. But then he opens his mouth and ugly spew slips out and she’s not so thrilled. He’s changed and he’s a demanding ass who keeps secrets and strong-arms her into marrying him and then is all about The Revenge. He must get The Revenge! Even if it hurts those who love him.

Ugh. Ugh. And ugh. I don’t like this type of “hero”. Never will, I’m sad to say. He does eventually realize the error of his ways but it’s all a little too little, a little too late. I am not a patient gal so I can only give this one a three. The writing was great; there was wit, sensuality and Penelope was not a push over and I will read this author in the future but I can’t give this story any more than a 3 because of Michael. He is an ass, he knows he’s an ass at least, but that does not change the fact that he behaves like an ass for a majority of the story. His penchant for ass-holi-ness causes no end of conflict and though his fingers may have been magical, his nonsense had me wanting to do this.

 photo fighting_zpsskxwqyaa.gif

“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.”
Profile Image for Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘.
852 reviews3,882 followers
February 24, 2019
3.5 stars, probably. Reluctantly charmed is what I am. What can I say, I never could resist strong-willed women and the men who are foolish enough to think they'll outsmart them. Hahahahahaha you wish. Bonus point to Michael for realizing he'd been an asshole (noticeably) sooner than usual, and for introducing Cross who looks very interesting indeed. Not exempt of cheese (and OF COURSE there's that boring mine bullshit) yet quite satisfying.
Profile Image for Sonyreader.
187 reviews104 followers
September 14, 2018
Maravilloso, romántico, dulce, tierno, repleto de pasión... Me he enamorado de la pareja protagonista y de los tres amigos de Michael. Me ha maravillado la pluma de la autora, tiene unas frases preciosas, puede describir una caricia de una manera tan mágica y romántica que es increíble, las escenas románticas y eróticas están repletas de pasión y sentimientos y puede transmitir los sentimientos de los personajes de una manera especial... Leeré más libros de esta autora y la continuación de esta saga, porque en el final ya nos introduce la siguiente historia de una manera especial.
Totalmente recomendada.💖
Profile Image for Nσҽɱí.
435 reviews146 followers
December 16, 2018
Por qué habré tardado en empezar esta serie? Me ha encantado, me ha parecido una delicia de lectura y muy entretenida, me encanta como escribe la escritora. Deseando seguir leyendo los demás libros de la serie!!!!
Profile Image for Jan.
895 reviews176 followers
January 10, 2019
2 to 2.5 okay stars. Welp, I tried another new (to me) author), but so far I'm not in love.

This book started off promisingly, although the plot did seem to start getting a little ridiculous pretty quickly. Hmmmm. But, go with the flow. I kept reading. The writing is decent. No cringeworthy anachronisms.

But sadly, as I read on, my interest and involvement in the book just kinda faded away. By about half to two thirds of the way through, I was just going through the motions. The story started dragging, and I was starting to not care what happened. Then the big scene just seemed a little 'by the numbers'. It wasn't satisfying or rewarding for me.

Unfortunately, I did not like the characters enough to really care what happened to them. (In fact, I just had to go and look up their names cos I'd already forgotten them. Not a good sign.) At the start I liked both H and h, but then Penelope kind of changed her spots, and turned from a likeable young gentlewoman into some kind of adventure-seeking hoyden. I don't particularly like the gambling den trope anyway, but the scene where Penelope Just, no. The kind of characters I like don't behave in that way. I'm not a prude, and I'm happy for our lovers to have sex before marriage, as long as they're on their way to a HEA. But I like characters wth some common sense, and with a bit more respect for the conventions of the day. They need to live within the constraints of their world for me to believe in them.

I did like Michael, and the plot line involving him losing his inheritance (no spoiler cos it's right at the start) was reasonable and had some interesting aspects. But it took too long for him to come to his senses about the faithful Penelope and the pointlessness of the revenge he was seeking.

So, I admit I started skimming, although I did get to the end without abandoning the read. But overall, for me it was a lukewarm experience, and I'm not rushing to read the author's backlist. I did try a kindle sample of the next book in this series, about Penelope's sister, who seems like an interesting character. But the opening was just RIDICULOUS and unbelievable. WHY????? would she behave in that way?? Just NO! The author did not convince, so I'm not going to read that one. I will try Nine Rules To Break cos quite a few people say it's her best. I'll keep an open mind.......
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