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.
And here is Jess's review:
This was a great story. It was engaging, entertaining and filled with scandal. This is the first story in The Rules of Scoundrels series and sets up the rest of the characters that will be involved in the series.
The heroine and hero, Penelope and Bourne or Michael, have fast become one of my favorite all time book couples. They were childhood friends who were separated by misfortune. The story is broken up by flashbacks to their childhood together. It is told through letters that they sent to each other while Bourne was away at school.
Penelope is witty, shy and does not consider herself a great beauty. Her family has told Penelope that she needs to be married as the oldest. She needs to be married before her sisters can follow suit. She had a previous engagement that was broken off for a love match. You can read about this story in MacLean’s previous book Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke’s Heart ( A | BN | K | ARe | iB ).
She has spent the years since with some suitors but no one has ever garnered her interest. After spending so many years under her parent’s guidance and trying to make an acceptor match, she uses this marriage with Michael to finally have an adventure. Penelope begins to explore other parts of her personality that were previously dormant. This was the best part of the story, watching Penelope experience new things. Every time she defied Michael’s wishes I cheered her on.
Michael, Marques of Bourne, returns to get back the lands he lost in a game of cards. It is now a part of Penelope’s dowry. He gains a wife and the lands but has no idea what to do with Penelope. He is an amazing anti-hero. The prince of the underworld, he can walk through his gambling halls and fights without breaking a sweat but as to the needs of Penelope he has no clue.
The setting of the story and secondary characters add great elements to it. There is camaraderie between the four owners of The Angel and they enjoy a sort of frat boy relationship with each other. They are constantly challenging each other and making jokes. Penelope’s family also plays a big role in the book. Each family member is extremely different. Pippa was one of my favorite characters. She is a bookworm who is odd and has dead pan humor.
The writing was extremely witty and I devoured this book. The character development of Michael and Penelope was well paced. While at first, Michael wanted Penelope as a means to an end, he quickly discovers so much more to their relationship. She has grown up and is no longer a naïve little girl. As the story unfolded Penelope gained a backbone and Michael softens his hard edges. He was a jerk, dark and brooding but with redeeming qualities. Their romance was pretty steamy and not cheesy. One of my favorite quotes perfectly describes it:
“I’m going to corrupt you,” he promised her skin, one hand sliding down the swell of her stomach, feeling the way the muscles there tensed and quivered at his touch. “I’m going to turn you from light to dark, from good to bad. I’m going to ruin you.” She didn’t care. She was his. He owned her in this moment, with this touch. “And do you know how it will feel?”
She sighed the word this time. “Splendid.”
More than that.
More than she’d ever imagined.
The story wraps up well. Book 2 in the series features Penelope’s sister and Cross. Sarah has made me a believer and I will continue to read the rest of the series.