By Sarah MacLean
Publication Date: January 29, 2013
Genre: Historical Romance
Lady Philippa Marbury is odd. The bespectacled, brilliant fourth daughter of the Marquess of Needham and Dolby cares more for books than balls, flora than fashion and science than the season. Nearly engaged to Lord Castleton, Pippa wants to explore the scandalous parts of London she’s never seen before marriage. And she knows just who to ask: the tall, charming, quick-witted bookkeeper of The Fallen Angel, London’s most notorious and coveted gaming hell, known only as Cross.
Like any good scientist, Pippa’s done her research and Cross’s reputation makes him perfect for her scheme. She wants science without emotion—the experience of ruination without the repercussions of ruination. And who better to provide her with the experience than this legendary man? But when this odd, unexpected female propositions Cross, it’s more than tempting . . . and it will take everything he has to resist following his instincts—and giving the lady precisely what she wants.
Scoundrel [skoun - druh l]
noun: an unprincipled, dishonorable person; villain.
synonyms: scamp, rapscallion, miscreant, incorrigible (see knave)
I have a massive book-crush on Sarah MacLean, I confess. Her Love By Numbers series cemented a spot on my keeper bookshelf for anything she writes and as soon as my paperback copy of Every Good Earl Deserves a Lover arrives, it has a spot. It had all of MacLean’s usual trademarks: an unusual heroine, a dark and dangerous hero and a passionate romance against a rich background with continuing characters that she cultivates over the span of a series.
The “Scoundrels” in the series title refers to the four men who own the Fallen Angel gaming hall; all are rogues, rakes, scoundrels, cads, etc. They’re definitely men that nice ladies ought to stay away from. In the first book, A Rogue by Any Other Name, Bourne married Penelope Marbury to gain access to her fortune that had been rightfully his and of course, managed to fall hopelessly in love with her. This time, his partner Cross is in trouble and it’s with Penelope’s sister Pippa.
Set to wed a plain bowl of porridge sort of man in two weeks, Pippa Marbury decides in her usual forthright way that she can’t honestly take her vows until she knows more about the physical acts that happen between a man and a woman. Sensible girl that she is (there was some sarcasm there), she asks around and finds out that the partner of her brother-in-law just happens to be rather…gifted with the ladies. So she propositions him. Not for sex! She’d just like some tutoring in what it is that happens. Her scientific brain may know the mechanics, but it’s not the same as having experience.
Cross does what any man with half a brain should do when presented with a lady of the peerage who shows up unescorted at a gaming hall asking to hire him to teach her about sex. He talks to her, considers her offer and then sends her home. He may cultivate the image of a cad, but the truth is that he’s dealing with demons from a tragic accident when he was younger and he’s determined to punish himself by avoiding relationships. That’s not good enough for the persistent Pippa, who keeps coming back and finding ways to worm her way into his heart by being in other places in the gaming hall talking to other people and not him, that dastardly girl!
If Cross didn’t fall immediately head over heels in love with Pippa, I certainly did. She was a nerd! It was a beautiful thing. I loved that she wore spectacles – really wore them all of the time and was as blind as a bat without them. She never dumbed herself down for anyone, even though being considered “odd” wasn’t exactly helping her socially. She was typical of my favorite MacLean heroines – she spoke her mind, did what she pleased and was as stubborn as a mule. I didn’t feel like I got to really know Cross enough to care about him to the same degree as I did Pippa. His character thought about pulling himself behind a wall so he wouldn’t care, so I expected some of it. When he was open, he was laughably frustrated with Pippa and so deliciously tempting.
There’s a bit of suspense at the end involving Cross’ past that had its moments of feeling forced mixed in with those that were wrenching and infuriating. I don’t like the way it ended, or rather didn’t end, since there wasn’t necessarily a resolution to the main issue with Cross. It did lead to a pretty glorious semi-grovel that made me turn off my reading light because I was getting steamed up.
This book hasn’t done anything to shake my love of MacLean, only make me more anxious for the next book, which is Temple’s. I hope I’m not jinxing it, but I’m almost enjoying this series more than the Love By Numbers books and think the next two books might push it ahead. Cross was the perfect man to tempt Pippa into being being bad and she was the right woman to finally help him work through his past and remind him he was a good man. Perfection.
My Rating: A