My rating: 5 of 5 flames
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