3.5 out of 5 stars
Cut to the Chase:
This is a hero-uses-heroine-for-revenge book, and as such, we have the patient heroine who believes that the hero is a better man than he appears to be, as well as the angsty hero who initially tries to close off his emotions and focus on just getting revenge. In this particular story, the two are part of an original trio of childhood friends, which means that they have history and a past relationship that plays heavily into her hope that he’ll reform, and the emotional pull he feels toward him. I did feel as though parts of the revenge plot dragged and were tiresome, and also, I really disliked how some of the final climactic scenes played out (spoilers below), but overall, this felt like a slightly-lighter-almost-at-times-fun take on the revenge trope.
Michael, the rightful Marquess of Bourne, lost everything to the man who was supposed to be his guardian protector in one fateful card game. Left with nothing but entailed properties and a title, he leaves to make his fortune and returns years later as the part-owner of a gaming hell, and of course, wants nothing more than revenge against those who shunned and/or brought him to his original, ruined state.
Enter Lady Penelope, a girl he more or less grew up with (before the scandal), who has written him countless letters throughout the years (some sent, some not sent), who has never quite given up on him. She’s had a brokn engagement in the past, and a slew of courtships that haven’t exactly lived up to the ideals of romance or even companionship. Her father is determined to finally marry her off and increases her dowry by adding a particularly lucrative property… one that used to belong to Michael, and that he would do anything to get back.
Despite the fact that these are interesting characters in many ways, the book becomes increasingly weighted down by the slow-paced-revenge backdrop. He quite often acts like a jerk, and his love for her doesn’t necessarily blossom so much as just become… suddenly… a thing… in the last part of the book.
I also hated the fact that in the end, after losing his inheritance to the villain of the book, he stands by and lets his wife gamble in his stead. It just did not feel believable to me that after swearing off gambling, learning the lessons of a reckless past, he thinks that he’s… what? Showing faith in his wife by letting her gamble everything? It just really… didn’t make sense and took me completely out of the novel.
Otherwise, it was an enjoyable read. Not enough to make m super-eager to read the rest of the series, but good enough that I’ll look into it at some point.
Comparison to Other Authors:
This is my first Sarah MacLean novel… I found her writing clear and on the funny side, with the story focusing on really the main characters (almost everyone else could be bundled together as “other”). The sensuality is humor is more Julia Quinn than Loretta Chase, and the references to the time periods are more to-remind-us than immersive.