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The Rules of Scoundrels #4

Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover

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Goodreads Choice Award
Nominee for Best Romance (2015)
She is the most powerful woman in Britain,
A queen of the London Underworld...
But no one can ever know.

He is the only man smart enough to uncover the truth,
Putting all she has at risk...
Including her heart.

The fourth book in New York Times bestselling author Sarah MacLean’s incredible Rule of Scoundrels/Fallen Angels series. These four dark heroes will steal the hearts of their heroines and the readers alike! This is the last in the Rules of Scoundrels series—Chase’s story

By day, she is Lady Georgiana, sister to a Duke, ruined before her first season in the worst kind of scandal. But the truth is far more shocking—in London’s darkest corners, she is Chase, the mysterious, unknown founder of the city’s most legendary gaming hell. For years, her double identity has gone undiscovered... until now.

Brilliant, driven, handsome-as-sin Duncan West is intrigued by the beautiful, ruined woman who is somehow connected to a world of darkness and sin. He knows she is more than she seems and he vows to uncover all of Georgiana’s secrets, laying bare her past, threatening her present, and risking all she holds dear... including her heart.

376 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published November 25, 2014

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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 1,914 reviews
Profile Image for Nadia.
536 reviews183 followers
December 7, 2014
This book! I can't.

Here's the thing. Once upon a time a young girl was seduced, under the pretenses of true love, marriage and happily-ever-after. Of course, nothing like that happened, the girl is ruined and pregnant at sixteen. She is despised by everyone, condemned, they're calling her a whore and whatnot. It's the nineteenth century after all. If you're a girl, you better be a virgin or you can drop dead, nobody would care.

So this girl vows revenge on everyone, they are all going to pay for the way they mistreated her and her daughter. She creates this alter ego, pretends to be a man and manages to fool the whole world.Chase, her alter ego, is smart, wise, ruthless, cunning, and with her three partners she creates an exclusive gaming hell where all the aristocrats who once made her life living hell, now lose their fortunes and respectability. She creates another version of herself, Anna the prostitute (she isn't really a prostitute), so she can monitor everything that happens in the gaming hell from the front rows.

Ten years later, she is the ultimate puppeteer. She has all the threads in her hands. Chase is one of the most powerful men in London. The king has nothing on him. But now, her real self needs a respectable husband, so that her daughter has a shot at normalcy. And here's what makes no sense to me.

Everyone, I mean everyone, knows of your scandal, knows your daughter is a bastard (it's the same as with non-virgins, if you're a bastard, you just better drop dead, no one cares about you) and yet you still insist on marrying a viscount, thinking that somehow this marriage will save your daughter. How? You think she's gonna find a family where that won't be held over her head? It's roughly the Victorian era, people are judgemental hypocrites, it will not be easy on her, any way. Logic flaw aside, she doesn't even love that viscount (and it was strongly hinted he might be gay). She is in love with the second most powerful man in London (after her ofc) , the newspaper magnate, Duncan West. Plenty of drama ensues.

My god, you would think that a woman who rises from the ashes with no one's help, all on her own, is a strong, confident, brave woman, who takes life by the balls and allows no one to tramp on her. Yeah, no.
Georgiana is a wuss. She is insecure, she is a coward, she is a friggin sheep and Duncan her sheppard. She allows him to blackmail her, to humiliate her, to disrespect her, to push her around. She is pathetic.

Duncan on the other hand is a lying hypocrite with a hero complex. Apparently he wanted Anna for a long time, but she a ho, so no go. Only when he found out she's really Georgiana, a daughter of a duke, he's after her, wants to save her from that awful life in that gaming hell. Duncan requests that Georgiana gives up all her secrets so he can protect her from Chase, who is using her and who is terrorizing her, while in the meantime he evades every question she asks.
Georgiana explicitly says that her relationship with Chase is not like that, not even sexual, but Duncan won't hear it, because she's a stupid female, what does she know about anything. She needs rescuing and that's it.

Dear god, this story had so much potential! Imagine a power play between the two most important people in London, while battling an ever-growing attraction to each other. Imagine them realizing that battling is counterproductive, and then unifying their forces to beat every one of their enemies. Imagine them living as equals, being a family and just enjoying what life has to offer.
That would be something worth reading.

Read and decide for yourself. As for me, I've outgrown this kind of stories. Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover might have been once a tolerable read, but like everything in this world, my reading tastes have evolved.
1 review3 followers
December 23, 2013
My theory on who Chase is..

Spoiler Alert!

To find the answer, one must start at the beginning. 

The link between Love by Numbers and The Rule of Scoundrels is Lady Penelope Marbury. 

Ten years ago, Lady Penelope, whom now is the marchioness of Bourne (from Rules of a scoundrel), was once plagued by a broken engagement. An engagement which was sought after by the Duke of Disdain, or otherwise known as the Duke of Leighton (from Love by Numbers). The duke was desperate to do what he must to protect his own. To link his dukedome to the daughter of a double marquess -a bond he thought would withstand any scandal. His sister's scandal - Lady Georgiana -  to be precise. 

  However, the scandal , which was announced in the papers (cue in Mr. West?) dissolved his engagement to Lady Penelope and insured his freedome to marry his love, Ms. Juliana Fiori. 

Lady Georgiana is the epitome, the very definition of a fallen angel. At the age of 17, the daughter of a duke gives birth to an illegitimate girl. Her fall from polite society an inevitable consequence. Her acceptance within the folds of a less-acceptable society a foregone conclusion.  Her link between the two parts of society, and her stay at a house for women, the discarded members of the ton - along with their secrets -, makes her a perfect candidate for the all-knowing, the secret keeper, Chase -  Founder of the Fallen Angel. 

The reference of the Fallen Angel was first mentioned in Love by Number...

“And it was enough for Georgiana. The path forked ahead of them, and she threaded one hand through Juliana’s arm, leading the way back to the house. “Never fear, Juliana. When my news gets out, they will forget everything they have ever thought of you and your mother. Fallen angels make for excellent gossip.”
“But you are the daughter of a duke,” Juliana protested. “Simon is marrying to protect you.”

Excerpt From: MacLean, Sarah. “Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke's Heart.” HarperCollins, 2011-04-01. iBooks. 
This material may be protected by copyright.

An interesting conversation between Cross and Chase reveals that Chase is indeed a SISTER to someone - a sister who refuses the help of her brother. (which is true for lady Georgiana ) 

“She wants nothing to do with me. Even when I told her I would take care of Knight, she had little to say. She didn’t believe me.”
Chase was quiet for a long moment, considering the situation. “Sisters are difficult. They do not always respond well to the dictates of older brothers.”
“You would know that better than anyone.”

Excerpt From: MacLean, Sarah. “One Good Earl Deserves a Lover.” HarperCollins, 2013-02-01. iBooks. 
This material may be protected by copyright.

Descriptions of Chase raising a blonde or "golden" eyebrow - mannerisms which both the Duke of Leighton and his sister Lady Georgiana had. 

There is without a doubt that the lady whom Lady Pippa speaks with at the hell is Georgiana, and when said lady interacts with Cross, we also know this lady has to be Chase. This lady's  ( Georgiana ) interaction to the owner of almost all of London's papers,  Mr. Duncan West, points to an enigmatic yet thrilling romance. How interesting to think that the vessel to her public ruination (an article in a newspaper) led to her self inflicted  fall, and its owner may lead her to love. 

This book can't come soon enough....

Profile Image for UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish.
1,166 reviews1,636 followers
November 20, 2015

FINALLY! Happy Release Day! Get your copy and enjoy!

5 'nothing short of amazing' stars!

This final book in Sarah MacLean's Rules of Scoundrels series is brilliant! The way Chase's story unfolds and comes together with Duncan West's is storytelling at its best!

She is the most powerful woman in Britain,
A queen of the London Underworld ...
But no one can ever know.

He is the only man smart enough to uncover the truth,
Putting all she has at risk . . .
Including her heart.

By day, she is Lady Georgiana, sister to a Duke, ruined before her first season in the worst kind of scandal. But the truth is far more shocking—in London’s darkest corners, she is Chase, the mysterious, unknown founder of the city’s most legendary gaming hell. For years, her double identity has gone undiscovered . . . until now.

Brilliant, driven, handsome-as-sin Duncan West is intrigued by the beautiful, ruined woman who is somehow connected to a world of darkness and sin. He knows she is more than she seems and he vows to uncover all of Georgiana’s secrets, laying bare her past, threatening her present, and risking all she holds dear . . . including her heart.
My review...

Sometimes a story will be so exciting, so poignant, and so romantic that I just can't put it down, nor can I put into words all the emotions it made me feel. Never Judge a Lady By Her Cover is one of those stories. Heartbreaking one moment, uplifting the next, and burn up the pages passionate yet another, start to finish Duncan and Georgiana grabbed hold of my heart and still, a couple months after reading their story, they haven't let go. Theirs is a romance for the ages, and I'm so very glad Sarah MacLean gave it to us.

To say I was captivated is to say the least, and to say I'll miss the world of The Fallen Angel is putting it mildly. Thankfully Sarah MacLean is a master at telling a story and I have no doubt I'll love whatever tale she tells next.

An ARC was generously provided by Avon Books, and to show my appreciation and gratitude I'm giving them an honest review.
Profile Image for Beanbag Love.
565 reviews246 followers
December 8, 2014
Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

emma stone gif photo: pffffft_ea.gif

I had been looking forward to this book. I was so excited that I figured out the secret of Chase in the first book in the series. There was one thing I didn’t realize, but it didn’t really matter ultimately. Not much was done with it ... like so much else in this story.

What we got was pages and pages of repetitive inner monologue from both leads. This book was so padded I don’t think the actual action would have made enough text for a novella. It’d be a short. I skimmed tons. It was the only way to get through it.

The premise is fine. In fact it has great potential. But that potential was never fulfilled. I was so annoyed by the end I almost DNF’d at about 80%.

Georgiana is a powerful duke’s sister who is shunned by society because of her illegitimate daughter. We see the circumstances that brought that about in the prologue and it certainly is a scene that makes the reader think, “this is gonna be good!” But then we settle in to a “romance” where two people are keeping major secrets from one another (and one of them is keeping secrets from the reader as well) and spending the vast majority of their encounters with one another thinking about how they’d love to be together forever but they simply can’t because of SECRET! They don’t SAY these things. They THINK them. Because THINKING them is so much more romantic than SAYING them to one another. Because if they SAID them to one another then the story might actually MOVE past square one.

In the final 18% of the book, we had all the action that had been avoided throughout the first 82%. Sometimes -- rarely, but sometimes -- that leads to a satisfying conclusion. By that point, though, I was pissed off. And the sudden activity/conclusion caused the story to be wrapped up neatly in quick strokes like a term paper written 20 minutes before class begins. Yes, that happens often, but this is the final book in a successful series. Some care needs to be taken with closers and MacLean simply did not pull it off.

So, I was going to give it 2 stars, but I’ve decided to give it 1. I rarely do that, but writing this review has caused me to be pissed off again, so I can’t even give it two stars for the potential these two characters had at the beginning. It was all wasted and that just made the whole thing worse.
Profile Image for Shawna.
3,551 reviews4,578 followers
January 5, 2015
3-3 ½ stars – Historical Romance

I’m a big fan of this author, and I’ve enjoyed all of her previous books. I loved the idea of this book, but unfortunately, it just didn’t quite deliver on the immense potential of such an intriguing, original twist and premise. There was way too much H/h inner monologue and time spent deliberating and lamenting over secrets...her secrets...his secrets...their secrets...it was exasperating, overly dramatic, and repetitive. The self-imposed denial, longing, sadness, and suffering by both the H/h seemed pointless and extreme, and the story dragged at times. Then when things actually, finally, progressed and picked up momentum, all the prior issues and drama wrapped up too quickly, easily, and neatly with a somewhat abrupt, dissatisfying ending.

Overall, I liked this, but it was still a disappointment for me, especially considering my high expectations. Luckily, I listened to the audiobook version and the fantastic narrator enhanced my enjoyment of the story.
3 reviews2 followers
December 1, 2014

Rating: Trust me when I say I love Sarah MacLean, I really love her. Before reading this book, she was in my top 3 of my all-time favorite historical romance authors, just after Lisa Kleypas and Julia Quinn. I believe this book could've got 3 stars from me if the summary wasn't so damn good or if it was from another author. After loathing No Good Duke Goes Unpunished, I expected MacLean to redeem herself with a strong closure. How disappointing to see she missed this opportunity and released another lackluster romance.


What I loved:
• The writing: Mrs MacLean's writing style is still on point. I really loved going through this novel just for her writing.
• The idea: Everything, from Chase's identity to the point of the Fallen Angel's existence
• Caroline: Even though I still think Caroline's wiseness is unbelievable at this point, I really liked her sassy lines and ways.

What I disliked:
• The main characters: Georgina was supposed to be a strong, witty and independent woma, a feminist born at the wrong time. What did I get? Some weak, pathetic woman who bow down in front of Duncan and let him lead the game and play with her. I'm even more disappointed because MacLean served us some awesomeness with Julianna in Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke's Heart and Calpurnia in her debut novel Nine Rules to Break when Romancing a Rake .

I just don't understand how an author can write powerful, overpowering women and then creates such a vapid, flat character. MacLean called Georgina "the most powerful women in Great Britain" but never I felt she was actually powerful and strong and every lie I was promised to see in Georgina's character. All MacLean did was to make Georgina say:

"The years away had been tremendously freeing once she’d accepted the idea that she’d never have the life for which she’d been so well prepared. It wasn’t just the corset and skirts that constricted now. It was the knowledge that mere feet away, there were hundreds of prying eyes watching, judging, waiting for her to make a mistake.
Hundreds of people, with no purpose, desperate to see her fall.
But this time, she was more powerful than any of them."

As if it wasn't enough, this whole book is about how the main characters (Georgina and Duncan) are supposed to be the most powerful people of the realm. Key word: supposed. It was all talk, no show.

"A king [Duncan] in his own right, with power unrivaled by all but one [Georgina]. Georgiana sighed, suddenly keenly aware of how powerless second-most-powerful could be."

Although I liked the idea of Georgina taking revenge by , it fell so flat and ridiculous in the actual novel.

I'm still failling to see how she's avenging herself from Society by ruinig some of its members? This seems even more dumb since she came back to this same Society to be accepted and make her bastard daughter ~acceptable. Can someone tell her a bastard remains a bastard no matter how titled is his/her step-father? Besides, I found it very hypocritical how Georgina called out Society's mysoginistic and cruel ways while doing everything to marry her daughter off to a man belonging to this same Society. And all because she feels her daughter would be happier with an aristocrate as a husband.

Georgina convinced herself her daughter's happiness can only be reached through a good marriage. And thus even though Caroline claimed she wasn't interested in High Society.

"Caroline signed. “Society events sound terribly boring.”
“They’re not, you know.”
Caroline turned surprise eyes on her mother. “They’re not?”
Georgiana shook her head. “They’re not. They’re really quite entertaining if you’re . . .” she hesitated. If you’re welcome to them didn’t seem to be the appropriate finish to the sentence. Particularly since Caroline was fairly ruined. “If you’re interested in that sort of thing.”"

Too much hypocrisy, I'm done.


I won't talk much about Duncan, he was as bland and face-palm worthy as Georgina. Other than assuming for like 200 pages Georgina is Chase's mistress, he doesn't make much impression. He's another bossy, annoying, know-it-all prick who patronizes the heroine and orders her around. As the most powerful woman of Great Britain, she, of course, let herself being ordered around. Yep. Totally coherent with her level of power, rank and personality.

I just got sick of one thing: the freaking insta-love. Yep. This book has a severe insta-love disease. Not even a month passed and Duncan is already in love.

"He [Duncan] loved her.
The realization should have terrified him, but instead, it washed over him with the warm pleasure that came from truth, finally revealed. And at the far edge of that pleasure was the edge of something unpleasant. Devastation. Denial."

This paragraph appears TWO WEEKS after Georgina and Duncan's FIRST MEETING. I don't about you but I don't believe anyone, let alone anyone who doesn't believe in love or think "love is bollocks"~, can fall in love in two weeks. Well, except if they had been locked up together, but that's another story.

Profile Image for Mo.
1,363 reviews2 followers
August 23, 2015
Probably not my favourite but still a good read.

Roulette was like life ...

He removed his shirt then, pulling it over his head, revealing a long sinewed torso, all curves and crevices. No man outside of classical sculpture should look this way..... Poseidon flashed again ...

Hypocrisy was the bedrock of the peerage.

"I am going to taste you and touch you until you come and your screams fill this room with only the water and the sky as witnesses."

Loved catching up with the previous characters.

We are like witches

"I wish I could dance," he whispered.
"I would dance with you."

I might have dragged a bit and been a bit repetitive but I still enjoyed it.

He loved her

Profile Image for Pepa.
950 reviews237 followers
September 27, 2015
4.5, en realidad... pero le pongo 5 estrellitas que luego al final del año quiero tener alguna jajaja
Ya es mucho que con las ganas que le tenía a esta novela no me haya defraudado.
La historia no es que tenga nada memorable, pero ambos protagonistas tienen garra y la autora ha sabido ser coherente (quitando ese final algo peliculero) con una historia que se presentaba complicada.
Sobre todo Georgina, con esa, no dualidad, sino diversidad de papeles jajaja
Duncan sabe estar a la altura, y la autora consigue un buen equilibro al darle el carácter fuerte que necesita para estar a la altura de la protagonista pero no pasarse con un ser dominante o controlador.
Si le pongo alguna pega es que me esperaba más del pasado de West y que Caroline no me ha convencido como niña de nueve años. Tiene buenas frases, pero parece más que tenga 15 o 16
Un buen broche para la saga y una lectura recomendable

Nota: Aparece la protagonista de la próxima novela de la autora
Profile Image for Lacey.
179 reviews
October 10, 2014
Ugh I NEEEEEEED this book.

EDIT: I finished!! WOOOOH!!! 4.5 stars! Cross's book is still my all-time fave, but Chase's was such a good book too. Loved it!

Profile Image for Holly.
1,449 reviews1,097 followers
December 27, 2018
If you can successfully suspend your disbelief enough to buy (spoiler alert!) then you will probably enjoy this book a little more than I did. Don't get me wrong, minus that one glaring thing, and some instances of repetition, I think I would have otherwise liked this book? In the end though I just couldn't get over my disbelief and I'm rating this book accordingly.
Profile Image for Duchess Nicole.
1,258 reviews1,547 followers
January 8, 2016
I was so confused when I started this book. Did all of the Fallen Angels owners and their wives already know about Chase/Anna/Georgiana? I'd have to go back and read the other books to know, and since I listened to the audiobooks, that would be difficult. I think maybe I didn't catch on to something I was supposed to in the previous books :(:(:(

Still, this book was more exciting for me than the last couple. I just really liked Duncan and Georgiana. I liked that Duncan wasn't an aristocrat. He came across as really smart and compassionate and I liked that he pulled himself up from nowhere. He and Georgiana were very similar in that regard. Both are extremely powerful in their own right. I think had they opened up their secrets to one another earlier, it could have been a killer ending for the series. But I loved how it ended, with all of them together and happy. Great series, fantastic audio narration.
Profile Image for ♥ℳelody.
635 reviews662 followers
April 17, 2017
The Rules of Scoundrels series has come to an end and I will honestly miss these guys. Such sexy leading heroes with great back stories. Did I love this one? No. It was decent and it wasn't a complete disaster like the 3rd book. *cries* Sorry Temple baby. *pets bulging muscles and strokes hair* Aaaaanyways, where was I? Oh yes! Georgiana and Duncan. They made a lovely couple, I adored Duncan. What a sweetheart who was a interesting combination of a beta and alpha hero. He made a worthy hero and his past history pricked my heart. I have a serious thing for jaded 'bastard' heroes who work with their bare hands to get to the top and never knew the comfort and security of a loving home. :( Rags to riches stories like this just add more appeal and dimension to self-made heroes and Duncan's story is truly heartbreaking. His back story and his quiet self-assured confidence and strength reminded me a lot of a Lisa Kleypas hero which is a big accomplishment and says so much about MacLean's ability to create multifaceted characters. Duncan had a lot of grit and heart. His reasons behind owning his own swimming pool in his house? Gah. That got to me the most and made me start to pay closer attention to him. That was the standout scene for me from the entire book.

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I really liked how this couple found a common ground and kinship in each other. Both having suffered something painful and shameful alone and found peace and understanding within each other. That was quite nice and a great balance. The quiet understanding and lack of judgement towards the other was sweet and a reminder of Georgiana's resilience and how quick she was forced to grow up, same for Duncan. Duncan was the perfect match for her in every way. The intimate quiet moments were wonderful, the swimming pool scene and him pouring his heart out about his childhood were perfect examples of that. I just wanted more of those grounded quiet moments.

Okay on to what I had issue with and made the story lag for me: the writing.
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MacLean's tendency to repeat things was hammered down incessantly to such a degree I was tempted not even half way in to DNF this a few times. It took forever for the story to actually start, the first 100 pages nothing happens. Everything was boring and tiring with the endless droning on and regurgitating the same information over and over again. Information that readers already know about. What was the point of this? The number of times we are reminded of “She was a lady. The daughter of a duke. The sister of one." is insane. Was MacLean worried we would forget this? And this is just one of several things that is repeated ad nauseam throughout the story to the point it seemed as if the author was presenting it as new shocking information. But it's not. WE ALREADY KNOW WHO GEORGIANA IS. WE KNOW THEY BOTH HAVE SECRETS! Which comes to my next hold up: The secrets thing.

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Everyone and their mother has secrets in here and it starts to get muddled and really tiring with the endless merry go round. Georgiana has secrets (plural), Duncan has a secret, the villain has a secret etc. etc. It's the battle of who will upstage whom with the GREATEST baddest secret of all and who will win! Meh.

She lies.
He lies.
Her secrets.
His secrets.
Her truth.
His truth.

One Fish.
Two Fish.
Red Fish.
Blue fish....
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This repetitive pattern and the constant short stops in inner monologues is Maclean's signature style of writing, it's used for dramatic build up and tension I get it.... but the number of times it's done in here made me want to rip my hair out. >.< And I like my hair on my head thank you. MacLean tends to get carried away with the repetitive ruminations that just fills up pages and gets the story and readers absolutely nowhere. If anything it weighed down the story. Sometimes less is more and here it was waaaaay too much, more than usual even.

Another serious gripe I had was how long it took Duncan to find out about Chase's identity. I was honestly frustrated and enraged on his behalf. I'm sorry but someone as sharp, observant and intelligent as Duncan not figuring out who Chase is till the end was silly to me and made him come off incredibly dense for the sake of a dragged out plot. Didn't like that. I mean half way in the clues are stacking up and the obvious is right there in his face and yet he's still not catching up. *facepalm* I mean...really? Georgiana standing in pants in the owner's suite with the 3 other owners of the club wasn't obvious enough?? <_< Gah! Poor Duncan. I couldn't wrap my head around how a shark newspaperman who's been a member of the Fallen Angels club and working with Chase for years didn't demand to see the elusive man himself way before this or at least try to investigate. It's part of his MO, he needs to know everything to sell his papers. The idea that a messenger is always used to contact Chase and furry messages to and from him should not have gone unnoticed by him all this time. Duncan's oblivious indifferent attitude about Chase's identity for so long prior to this I didn't buy for one minute and found it weak, contrived and illogical.

And as for Georgiana's masked identity I honestly wasn't crazy about the red herring in here. I don't know, personally I felt MacLean missed a great opportunity here by not going all out. It was ALL there why not use it to your advantage? And I could have sworn it was alluded to in the first 2 books that the heroines met Chase in person but I guess my memory is fuzzy and MacLean worked around it by not describing him physically. It's the only explanation I can come up with since Penelope met him in Book 1. Tricky tricky author.

Things did get interesting in the last 100 pages but again the flux of endless inner monologues repeating the same thing and h/hr asking the same questions and responding to it like it's new just got in the way of the momentum of the story and dragged things out unnecessarily. And I'm still left wondering exactly how old Georgiana's teenage love Johnathan was? He's repeatedly referred to as 'the man who betrayed her, 'the man who stole her happiness'..etc.
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Um...what man? He came across as a careless prepubescent horny stable boy who seduced a naive innocent girl, nothing more. I don't know it just kept throwing me off and annoyed me how Georgiana kept building him up as something bigger than he was. And the fact that Georgiana's brother Simon, the Duke of Leighton was nowhere in this was a huge WTF for me. I truly do not understand the point of doing cross-overs between series if you do not actually USE it to your advantage. Arrrgh! Just why then? For those familiar with the Love by Numbers series, you know what a big role Simon played in Georgiana's life and played a big hand in how she ended up where she is now. I was totally expecting to see him in this because of that. I mean...he gave her the gaming hell and took in Caroline, come on. :( SMH.

Overall a decent wrap up to a fun series. Blunt honesty: I really feel this series lost it's potential after Book 2. I don't know what happened but to go from Cross and Pipa's deliciously-thrilling, exciting, angsty story to this does make me scratch my head and wonder what happened. For new readers: this is definitely NOT a stand alone book, I recommend reading this series from the beginning. I hope this means MacLean has something up her sleeve for a new series. I don't know about anyone else but I was very intrigued and curious by the quiet quick-witted wallflower Lady Sophie who Georgiana championed and sent the 'handsome as sin' rake Lord M to dance with her. Hmmm...spin-off anyone? I wish. I hope... ;)
Profile Image for Sher❤ The Fabulous BookLover.
875 reviews554 followers
December 29, 2014
So disappointed in this!

It pains me to give this book 2 stars. I've never had such a hard time finishing a Sarah Maclean novel. It started off nice, but quickly went downhill. It was a chore to read...extremely tedious. I like to escape when I read and this book made me feel like I was working another day job!

I feel as if Maclean did not know what to say. So there were times when I felt like she started filling in with useless information. I can't count how many times she repeated the same things over and over and over again. How many times are you going to say that Chase holds too much power, or that Georgiana is ruined or that Caroline is a bastard?? For goodness sakes I already know these things so please stop repeating them!!!

The back and forth chatter between Duncan and Georgiana was boring. I've never read a character who thought so much! Why couldn't these two have a conversation without so much thinking involved! There was so much thinking it was tedious and boring at times. And the love scenes were rushed and hurried. I honestly didn't feel any love or chemistry between Duncan and Georgiana. One minute he thought her a whore and the next he wanted to marry her, but read a few more pages and he would again think she was just some mans whore, and read a few more pages he's changed his mind and wants forever with her, keep reading a few more pages and he realized he can't have forever, but no he's going to get forever, but then he realizes he can't have forever. ...blah, blah, blah This is why I got a headache reading this!

This story had so much potential, I'm still not sure what went wrong. Everyone should read it for themselves, but IMO this was a big letdown. I'm so glad it's finished!
Profile Image for Caz.
2,762 reviews1,033 followers
December 2, 2014
I have thoroughly enjoyed each of the books in Ms MacLean’s Rules of Scoundrels series, but I think Never Judge a Lady By Her Cover is quite possibly the best of the lot!

The author has very cleverly kept her readers on tenterhooks regarding the identity of the mysterious and enigmatic Chase, the founder of and fourth partner in London’s premier gambling establishment, The Fallen Angel – and I’m sure it’s no exaggeration to say that we were shocked, awed and excited when, at the end of the previous book in the series, Chase was revealed to be a woman.

In fact, she is none other than Lady Georgiana Pearson, sister of the Duke of Leighton, whom readers met in the author’s earlier Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord. Aged seventeen and pregnant, Georgiana had fled to Minerva House in Yorkshire in order to escape the censure of her family and the pressure they would bring to bear on her to force her to give up her child.

That was almost a decade ago, and in the intervening time, Georgiana devised the perfect revenge on the society whose double standards make a whore of a young woman who dares to bear a child out of wedlock while slapping a man on the back for sowing his wild oats. Recruiting partners with as much to gain and little to lose as she had, she established the Angel, membership to which has become one of the most sought after invitations in all of society.

Georgiana’s daughter, Caroline, is now nine years old, and when in London, resides with the Duke of Leighton and his family in an attempt to distance the girl from her mother’s sins. Georgiana keeps a fairly low profile, venturing out on the odd shopping trip or excursion, but not attending society events. When a rather nasty cartoon appears in one of the London scandal sheets, it’s brought home forcibly to Georgiana that her daughter is growing up, and will soon need to assume a position in society – but what position? As the child of an unwed mother, Caroline will face censure and social ostracism if Georgiana doesn’t do something to secure her respectability, and there is only one way she can do that – marry a man with a title. Her three partners – Bourne, Cross and Temple – are all living proof of the fact that having a title goes a long way towards crushing gossip, so Georgiana sets her sights on an impoverished viscount of impeccable lineage and reputation - and one she knows will be amenable to a white marriage.

If Georgiana is to make such a match, however, she is going to have to return to society. At one of the first balls she attends in London, she is not surprised to find herself the subject of much behind-fan-tittering, hushed whispers and cruel gossip. Having faced down a group of bitchy debutantes, she then finds herself alone with newspaper baron Duncan West, whose close association with the Fallen Angel and its owners has made him into a kind of honorary “fifth partner”, and with whom she has had a number of professional dealings over the past few years – but as Chase, not as Georgiana.

In fact, Chase and West have never met face-to-face. Their business has all been conducted through an intermediary in the form of Anna, the madam at the Angel, Chase’s (presumed) lover – and Georgiana’s public persona. In the years of their association there has been an unacknowledged attraction between them, but it’s only now that Georgiana starts to feel the real force of that attraction. West is dazzlingly handsome, shrewdly intelligent and almost indecently wealthy, and it’s clear from the outset that he’s one of the few men in society able to equal her in intellect and power.

For his part, West is immediately drawn to this beautiful but fiercely clever woman and impressed by her determination to give her daughter the life she herself was denied. Given that one of his newspapers is responsible for circulating some of the most recent gossip about her, West offers to help to restore Georgiana’s standing in society and pave the way for the respectable marriage she aims to make.

But Georgiana is not the only one keeping secrets. West, too has something to hide, something way back in his past that has the potential to destroy him completely, something which the one man beyond Chase’s influence will not hesitate to use to bring him down if West refuses to do as he is told.

The relationship that builds between the couple as they circle around one another is utterly delicious and the chemistry between them is scorching. There are layer upon layer of secrets lying between them, yet even as they become closer - both emotionally and physically - they continue to find it difficult to give their trust completely to the other. Eventually, Georgiana’s reluctance to trust Duncan with her ultimate secret sets in motion a chain of events which threatens her safety and his very existence.

Much as I’ve fallen for Bourne, Cross and Temple, Duncan West is my favourite hero of the series. Perceptive, clever, deeply honourable and utterly gorgeous, he is, quite simply, sex-on-legs and a perfect match for Georgiana who is one of the most strongly characterised and admirable heroines I’ve come across in the pages of historical romance. She’s pragmatic and clear-sighted, and unlike so many “unconventional” heroines, knows that she has to function within society’s rules, rather than constantly chafing against them. Of course, gets her own back on society in a deliciously unusual manner, her choice of weapon a scalpel rather than a sledgehammer.

In Never Judge a Lady By Her Cover, Sarah MacLean has crafted an intelligent and compelling story with an intricate plot and a strongly characterised central couple. Along the way, she also manages to include several very pertinent observations relating to the place of women in the society of the time, and to remind the reader that there was often a much seedier and darker side to its denizens hidden beneath the surface veneer of propriety and politesse.

But this is at its heart, a beautiful, poignant and wonderfully written love story, as well as an absolutely superb ending to one of the most captivating series of books I’ve read in recent years. I will miss Ms MacLean’s Scoundrels , but am delighted to be able to report that Bourne, Cross, Temple – and Chase – have left us on a real high and to say that I have enjoyed every minute I’ve spent with them.

This review originally appeared at Romantic Historical Reviews.
Profile Image for Robin (Bridge Four).
1,645 reviews1,512 followers
December 2, 2014
I have enjoyed the Rule of Scoundrels series very much and in this the probably conclusion to the series the final owner of the Fallen Angel is paired up. Chase has been the mysterious man behind the Angel since the beginning. No one knows who he really is except those closest in the inner workings of the club and the fellow owners that Chase saved and offered a chance at redemption. Now it is Chase’s turn to find redemption, except Chase must do it not as the owner of the Fallen Angel but as Georgiana fallen aristocrat.

Once upon a time Georgiana fell in love with someone beneath her station. But she didn’t care because love was the only thing she wanted. After a brief romantic encounter she found that while she believed the affections shown to her to be love, she was only a passing interest for the boy. Disgraced by her ruination and the child it produced she has been on the outskirts of society, whispered about and scandalized.

Georgiana didn’t care at all, she was happy living her double (actually triple) life and found great pleasure in being Chase owner of the Fallen Angel and holder of all the secrets of society. That was until an unfortunate cartoon ran in the gossip column and it was made clear that the sins of the mother would be felt by the child. In order to make sure her daughter has every possible chance of being accepted in society and will be able to marry well later, Georgiana must marry and well now, she has just the candidate picked out.

West and Anna (Georgiana in disguise) have worked together for years sharing the secrets of society. But West has never shared his biggest secret, the one that could destroy him. It is after a cartoon runs in his paper that Georgiana believes she needs to marry someone with a title to save the reputation of her daughter, West feels slightly guilty and decides to help her by running more flattering information in the gossip column about her. But as he spends time helping her he can’t seem to get her out of his mind and grows more and more attached to the woman that once was the go between for him and Chase.
“Chase and I need each other to survive,” he said, “just as it seems you need him.”
She inclined her head. “We are all in this boat together.”
He narrowed his gaze on her. “You and I are in the boat,” he said.
“Chase may have built it and set it on its course. But it is our boat.”

I spent so long waiting for the truth to come out. Georgiana has her secret life and West had his but it took a long time before revelations were made. I almost ran out of patience….almost.

I did enjoy getting to see cameos of the couples from the prior books. As Chase has a part to play in meddling in all of their relationships it was good to see that turnabout was fair play and they were all willing to help Chase with what is best for her.
“You violate our rules.”
“Don’t you mean Chase’s rules?” Bourne said, and Georgiana wanted to slap his face for the sarcasm in the words. “I wouldn’t worry. Chase seemed to forget those rules in certain cases.”

The story isn’t perfect. I really felt there was far too much bickering and hurting each other. I was really looking forward to seeing an in control, confident Chase. But as Georgiana she was unsure of herself and perhaps a little too pure based on the role she had played as Anna. She was extremely likable though and I loved the relationship she had with her precocious nine year old daughter.

The Chemistry between West and Georgiana was fantastic and I really liked him as a love interest. He is the guy with a broken past that you are always pulling for. As the attraction between West and Georgiana grew I loved their time on page together it was plenty steamy.
“Here is something that is not a lie; I am going to make you scream your pleasure. You will beg for me to stop, and then, when I do, you will beg for me to start again. You won’t know what to do with yourself when I am done with you, because you will not remember your body outside of the pleasure I intend to give you.”

I really enjoyed most of this book I would have liked just a smidgen more with the epilogue it was a cute ending but I really wanted something just a little bit more from it, especially if this is the finale for the entire series.

All and all though I will rate my enjoyment of the series as follows:
 1. One Good Earl Deserves a Lover (book 2)
2. Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover (book 4)
3. A Rogue by Any Other Name (book 1)
4. No Good Duke Goes Unpunished (book 3)

Profile Image for [Aengell].
218 reviews91 followers
January 7, 2015
When a promising book turns out to be nothing more than MEH.

I really tried to like this book, but there were too many aspects that turned it into a 3-stars-read. A bad 3-stars read.

The heroine, Georgiana, annoyed me most of the time. I couldn’t connect to her character at any point, because she was always complaining. She had this big revenge-thing going on with the ton, but I could have understood her more if there wasn’t mention of it every two pages.
What else was mentioned in every other page? The fact that she is so powerful. And the fact that she is so powerful in the London underground. Working with men. Working! And wearing trousers! Wow!

It was repetitive and tiresome, not to mention that it was really overdone. I don’t need the heroine to be a bitter, lying woman who seperates her three identities so well that I get a little bit scared. Georgiana seemed like a schizophrenic women, undecided in her true self but sure about her hard work and her daughter.

The daughter. I’m glad that Caroline has just a few appearences, most of them at the beginning, because her character was so poorly done I’d gladly welcomed it if she wasn’t there at all. It wouldn’t have made a difference, seeing that her person was only used as a device, helping the whole story to have a reason. Otherwise Caroline was supposed to be 9/10 years old, but talked like a grown-up woman.

The fact that Georgiana hid her identity as Chase from Duncan until the very end didn’t create excitement and suspense for me, but it made me bored. It was drawn out way too long, with Duncan being kept in the dark.

I could have overseen all these things, because the pace was really fast and action-filled and Duncan West was great hero, but there were just too many small logical faults. Just small things, a person being here and there in the next moment, not accurate times and numbers. This all could have been avoided with a proper editing, but because this isn’t a self-published book by a newcomer-author, there’s even less of an excuse for it.
Profile Image for Karen.
810 reviews1,026 followers
December 13, 2016

We are two halves of a coin.

Ok... all I have to say is that I am baffled by the questionable reviews. Honestly this was fabulous. The storyline couldn't be any more intriguing. And I thought, carried out to perfection. I can't say much more about it though, I don't want to spoil anything... but wow. The perfect end to a great series.

Why not take the pleasure and leave everything else?

Profile Image for b.andherbooks.
2,127 reviews981 followers
July 18, 2020
I joined the hosts of #SummerofSarahMacLean to gush about my favorite romance novel! You can watch it here: https://youtu.be/tv-BWjfET-0

I credit Lady Georgiana, bad ass in her pants, for launching me into a public romance reader. Before this I was embarrassed, because you know, the patriarchy. Thank goodness for Lady G. I finally listened to the audio version during the pandemic in 2020 as a comfort listen, and I'm so glad I did. MacLean is an exquisite writer, and so many of her sentences are meant to be heard out loud. And wow give me all your sexy poolside oral scenes and your quick, jealous desk bangs, and your *this is the last time give me your all* finally in a bed bangs.

Might be my favorite romance novel? If I can even claim such a thing? I just love it so much. It is also a perfect series ender, the big Chase reveal is perfectly done, and the end? With the jumping from gaming table to gaming table for our lovers to get to each other for one last time? PERFECT.

Yup, just gave five stars to a paperback romance. Loved it. When I saw the lady with pants on this cover, I had to read.

Honestly, I'm pretty blown away by what most would simply see as a trashy mass market paperback. It is tragic, sexy, and very well written. It is also breaks a lot of the tropes commonly associated with these type of books.

The titular lady is Georgiana, ruined by scandal at the tender age of 16. She had sex with her first 'love' once, got pregnant, and was subsequently outcast from society along with her daughter. Cut to ten years later, and the reader finds out Georgiana is ALSO both Anna AND Chase (seen and discussed in the other books of this series). Anna is a "whore" and the messenger for the all powerful owner of the Fallen Angel Club - Chase - whom everyone believes is a man. Georgiana has kept up this charade with the other owners (all male and seen in the previous books) but is now realizing she may in fact need to marry to give her daughter a title and a chance at a better life.

Georgiana renters society, while still masquerading as Anna and managing the club as Chase. A fancy newspaper man Duncan West who has fed secrets to "Chase" and "Anna" meets Georgiana and soon puts the pieces together regarding her tie to "Anna" (but not Chase). Georgiana and he fall for each other, but their secrets and honor do not make it an easy road. West doesn't have a title, he believes Georgiana is trapped as Chase's mistress, and numerous other problems keep the story moving forward and lead to much sexy angst and sexy times (see swimming pool scene). I did get a bit confused at the many different character names for each person, and feel like I should go back and read the other books in the series now.

Honestly, I was pretty riveted and this book was exactly what I needed at this moment in life.

Go Sarah MacLean!
Profile Image for Becky (romantic_pursuing_feels).
812 reviews696 followers
February 6, 2022
Did a quick reread for some steam stats.

Book takes place in 1833 (prologue in 1823)

Steam of 2-3, depending how generous you are. I ended up counting the last scene but others might not.

Locations of kisses/sex scenes:

Original Review:

Our heroine is Lady Georgiana and you get to meet her in Sarah Macleans first series, love by numbers. She is the hero’s sister from the third book - Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Dukes Heart. Our hero is Duncan West, self made newspaper man.
There’s a lot I liked about this book. I enjoyed Duncan and his protective personality. He is not nobility, he has pulled himself out of the gutters and made something of his life.

Georgiana is not the heroine I would usually go for. Ruined at 16, now with a 9 year old daughter, she was a wonderful female role. She has transformed her life and really is a perfect match for Duncan.

There were some things that annoyed me in this story. One of the main problems of the relationship is established fairly early on and just keeps going and going and going until almost the last page and you are screaming and shaking your book yelling, “Just *#*}*#*% tell him!!!”

Our heroine thinks a title will solve all of her problems and I found that annoying as well. Especially after reading the love by numbers series and all the drama and gossip and scandal despite the titles. A baby out of wedlock, a bastard, is not going to be saved in society’s eyes by becoming a viscountess.

Lastly I found the crime Duncan had committed a little anticlimactic. Yes I’m just being my usual extremely picky self.

I am so glad I have read both these series, even though only 1 was a 5 star read for me. (Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake) Sarah has woven a lovely world to get lost in and I enjoyed how everything connected together at the end.
Profile Image for Warda.
1,210 reviews19.7k followers
December 22, 2021
This was a great conclusion to the series.
Chase's character was built throughout this series and the character arc was pretty amazing. There's an air of mystery that surrounds Chase so I would recommend reading this series in order.

I love how Sarah MacLean told this story, all the themes she touched upon especially to do with women and society at that time, the power she gave this particular character as well as the others.

I had a really great time reading it.
Profile Image for İlkim.
1,401 reviews11 followers
January 23, 2021
Çok güzeldi bence. Chase’in hikayeyi okuyacağız diye düşünmüştüm ama arka kapağa bakınca nasıl yani diye bi ambele oldum. Sen üç kitap bunu nasıl sakladın pessss... Duncan ı da ilk kitaplardan sevmiştim, güzel bir final oldu. Bu seri ilaç gibi geldi bana gerçekten.
Profile Image for Froggie.
700 reviews33 followers
December 1, 2014
So much potential!

I really, really wanted to like this book. When it was revealed that Chase, the big boss of the Fallen Angel was a woman, I was thrilled. Bravo, Ms. MacLean! You had me completely fooled. Plus, Chase is also the same person as Anna, the prostitute who acts as Chase's proxy. A three-identity girl. How can I resist this book!

Turned out that Chase's real character is Lady Georgiana Pearson, the sister of the hero in Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke's Heart. Another applaud to Ms. MacLean, for tying the series together so beautifully. In this book, Georgiana tries to find a titled husband to restore her reputation and pave ways for her bastard daughter's future. (is it even possible? And isn't her brother and his wife also the source of a BIG scandal ten years ago? Well, it's a romance. So... move on)

Once I learned of Georgiana's goal, my mind simply rebelled. I'd much rather she fall in love with a commoner. And lucky me, Ms. MacLean answered my wish. Enters Duncan West, the powerful newspaper mogul who manipulates and controls England's media with no competition. (how is that possible in 1830s I don't know. But it's a romance, so let's move on.) At that point, I must tell you I was still very excited with this pairing.

(Besides, the handsome viscount just wouldn't do. Because an aristocrat lower than an Earl isn't worthy as a romance hero these days, right?)

The party scene at the beginning of the book was so much fun. It was immensely satisfying to see Georgiana teaching that mean girl a lesson for dragging her daughter into the mix. And I enjoyed Georgiana and West's banter a great deal. Unfortunately, those were the high points of the book for me. Things went downhill from there.

At that point, West has never seen Chase but he's met Anna several times over the years. (He found her attractive, but not decent enough to tempt him?) Now that she and Georgiana is one and the same, he begins to relentlessly pursue her. I can't help be a bit wary of West's sudden change of heart. I wish the author told us more back stories or at least West's thinking. Anyway, this didn't exactly ruin my enjoyment. I accepted the premises and moved on.

The major flaw, at least to me, is that the book failed to capture both characters' potentials. After the first few chapters, Georgiana is but a vague shadow of Chase. I still rooted for her though. West, on the other hand, I felt nothing but pity. All he has is his looks. I see no evidence of a self-made man who, against all odds, fought his way to the society's treetops. He didn't appear clever, or cunning, or ruthless, or hard-working enough to make the case. With all the events raging in 1830s, we never see him do anything but obsessing with the scandal sheets and the lady's magazine. He's no better than any regency idle lords and I'm utterly disappointed. With two of the most powerful persons in London as the H/h, the story could have gone interesting in so many ways. Instead, we get a will s/he, won't s/he?, "I must save you from myself", and a stupid showdown at the end because women know nothing and men know best.

A lackluster 2.5 stars.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Laura.
Author 15 books600 followers
December 27, 2014
Read this review on Got Fiction? book blog

Spoiler Free

I loved it. I love this series, I love this author, I love this book. I can’t really go into much detail about the plot, other than to say that Chase is one very complicated person. Many of you know by now who Chase is, (minor spoiler because it’s in the blurb) Chase is the Duke of Leighton’s sister Georgiana (he’s from Thirteen Scandals to Start to Win a Duke’s Heart).

Once upon a time, Georgiana, daughter of a duke, was sweet talked into sleeping with the stableboy when she was seventeen. And she thought they’d run away together. Instead, Georgiana was left heartbroken and pregnant. This was in the first series, Love By Numbers.

Not caring if she was mocked by the ton, Georgiana kept her daughter and was happy, until she realized the “stain” of her transgression was going to affect her sweet little girl.

She decided that the best thing she could do is control the ton. And control it she will. Through fair means or foul, Georgiana owns most of the ton. This is where it gets tricky. She can’t run the most exclusive gaming hell in London as a woman, so she sought out her partners, and she did her best to remain behind the scenes.

Except she couldn’t remain hidden away.

Now it’s about 10 years later, and she’s content. Until reporter Duncan West appears in her life. And he isn’t planning on leaving anytime soon. The mystery and the intrigue don’t stop there, this is a Sarah MacLean novel, after all.

Duncan West has his own secrets that must remain hidden, but as we know, it’s never that simple. Duncan and Georgiana have a beautiful romance, but one that seems doomed from the start. Adding in the fact that Georgiana feels that she has to marry a peer to give her daughter a much-needed legitimacy, this romance won’t have an easy path.

Edit: I will say we don't see as much of Chase as I wanted, I mean Chase has been built up to this huge person, but our book was more about Georgiana, than Chase.

I really can’t say too much else because it would give away more than I’m willing, but just trust me that if a novel says Sarah MacLean on the cover, you can judge it to be a 5 star book.

***ARC courtesy of Avon books
Profile Image for Al George.
502 reviews320 followers
January 25, 2016
So I may be the only one here, but this book was simply 200 plus pages too long and was simply tiresome. Just meh. Perhaps I'll come back tomorrow and expound on my thoughts but even that seems like too much effort. I didn't hate it, I didn't love it, I just didn't care.
Profile Image for Cathryn.
335 reviews66 followers
March 14, 2016
I really liked this series. There were only two issues I had with this book. The mental hand wringing of both the hero and heroine over why they can't be together was a bit repetitive.

Also, I said this in a review of another book but I really would like to have an HR where the MC owns her sexuality and is not ashamed of it. Maybe that's too much to ask for in HR but it would be a breath of fresh air. In this one the MC

Book would have been much better if she had put the hero in his place about judging her.
Profile Image for Milica's Bookshelf.
810 reviews217 followers
April 2, 2016

I adored the hero Duncan, he was perfect for Georgiana. He was the perfect match for her and not intimidated by her, which for the early 1800s and considering what she did for a living was miraculous. I can only hope that men like that actually existed back then. Although he was a little damaged by has passed, aren't we all, he was still sweet, loving, sexy and my favorite... possessive;)

This story was very well written, and the character and plot development were very good. This Romance was intriguing, entertaining, steamy, heartwarming and heartbreaking, with a little action and suspense!

Even if you were disappointed to find out Chase (the fourth and founding member of The Fallen Angle) was a woman, I suggest you read this anyway it is so good!

To anyone new to this series I highly recommend you read this series in order, although each book is about an individual couple there are deep connections throughout this four book series. And if you want a real treat, you'll start with Sarah MacLean's "love by numbers" series followed by this one. There are connections between the two especially book 3 in the "love by numbers" series and this book (book four) in the "rules of scoundrels "series.
Profile Image for Arshia.
370 reviews20 followers
October 23, 2014
I tried, I really tried not to judge this novel... But God Lord it was bad!! Maybe I just wasn't in the mood for an angst filled romance or maybe it was just horrible. Judge for yourself. All I have to say is that I tried and tried to read it. After putting it down for the tenth time, I gave up. I didn't like Georgiana, which is a damn shame because I loved her before and as Chase, she was lacking the backbone to be something amazing. Instead her character seemed like a blithering idiot in need of just sex. UGH so disappointed!!
Profile Image for Julie .
4,080 reviews59k followers
March 22, 2016
Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover by Sarah Maclean is a 2014 Avon publication.

I’ve only recently discovered this author, and while I enjoyed the first book in the Scandal & Scoundrels series well enough, it was this series I was the most curious about.

First of all, I was relieved to find the book is not about a young girl trying to fight against the rules of society or the TON, or peerage trying to avoid marriage. Instead, we have Georgiana, who makes a mistake at sixteen, becomes an unwed mother, and is unceremoniously cast out of society despite her father’s title.

Now, ten years later, a cartoon appearing in a scandal sheet has forced her to attempt to merge herself back into society to find a titled husband for the sake of her daughter.

Enter Duncan West, the owner of the scandal sheet that forced Georgiana’s hand. Mortified that the cartoon was printed, Duncan is determined to right that wrong via his vast newspaper empire. However, he is stunned to discover that Georgiana is living a double life inside the notorious gambling club “Fallen Angels”.

Believing her to be under the thumb of the infamous “Chase”, Duncan finds himself frustrated in the extreme, his hands tied due to his own dark secrets, so, he can only help her reenter society, find a suitable match, all while the two fall hopelessly, but helplessly in love, but with no possibility of a future together.

Naturally, the reader knows that Georgiana is not living a double life, she is living a triple life, which was funny to an extent, but turns serious with each passing day as Duncan becomes more concerned for Georgiana’s welfare and future.

I loved the political intrigue in this story, and the secrets are pretty heavy, leaning toward the dark side, as did a few other situations, which is far more realistic to the times, and so more points are rewarded for daring to address some uncomfortable subject matter.

Georgiana and all her alter egos are smart, strong, but also have vulnerabilities, with Georgiana having the most to gain or lose, although there were some tense moments in the last few chapters, concerning her other endeavors. I could understand her actions sometimes, in others, not so much, but overall, she was pretty darned impressive.

Caroline is a young woman mature beyond her years, which is probably a bit of a stretch, but was also refreshing. I enjoyed the other minor characters too, all of whom played key roles in the way things eventually turned out.

The villain is written very well, is truly despicable, vile, and of course quite dangerous to a great many people. Sometimes, the villain is not fleshed out enough, but in this case we certainly do get a nice peek into his black soul and that makes the victory that much sweeter.

I saved Duncan for last, because he stole my heart. Almost from the beginning, even before I was sure his motives were pure, I thought he was dreamy and honorable, despite hints to the contrary and a few moments of real doubt that cropped up later in the story. Sometimes, a hero I don't quite trust is a little fun, because it adds to the suspense.

Duncan has a sad aura around him, but is a little darker in nature than is the norm for regency historicals, but not too dark. I liked him immensely and think he is an awesome hero.

Although there were a few times when the switching back and forth between alter egos got just a little a tiresome, I liked the way this story was constructed, it flows evenly and is steadily paced, with the right amount of chemistry and sexual tension, and a nice build up of suspense, behind an interesting storyline.

I enjoyed this one far more that the first book I read by this author, and am now able to see why this author and her books are so popular.

Overall, this one gets 4 stars
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