Series: The Rules of Scoundrels #1
Genres: Historical Romance
Published by Avon on 28 February 2012
Michael, Marquess of Bourne, may have lost everything in a card game but he has turned his fortunes around and become a partner in a gaming establishment. The one thing he desires above all is to regain Falconwell, the estate he gambled away. Since it has been included in Lady Penelope Marbury’s dowry, he decides to marry her and claim his land once and for all.
Bourne is thoroughly unpleasant at first and he had lots of grovelling to do in order to convince me he had semi-reformed. He can’t be bothered wooing Penelope properly so he kidnaps and deflowers her. He then practically abandons her so he can spend more time at his club. We know from the letters that he and Penelope exchanged that he a decent sort as a kid but losing his entire inheritance hardened him. He is constantly at war with himself as he is determined to get his revenge no matter the cost but Penelope is soft and cuddly and winsome. In short, she makes him feel emotions he thought he had buried long ago and he doesn’t know how to handle things. I wish we had been given more information about the time in between losing his estate and becoming a successful business owner. It obviously had a significant impact on his character so leaving it out was a curious decision.
Penelope’s first thoughts are always for others and it takes her a long time to express her own desires. Her social life was ruined some years ago when her fiancé broke off the engagement to marry the woman he was really in love with. Everyone blamed Penelope and she sat on the marriage shelf for a long time – her Amazon (?) good looks and hefty dowry weren’t a significant enough enticement. Her father added Bourne’s former estate to her dowry in the hope someone would be willing to take her off his hands. She might have been tricked into marrying Bourne but she tries to make the best of the situation. Unfortunately every time Bourne is affectionate, it seems to be either for him or to convince society at large they are in love. I have to question her idea of ‘an adventure’ though as I thought Bourne’s method of winning her was cruel rather than exciting.
The plot is a bit predictable but it was entertaining. Watching the cold and arrogant Bourne trying to pretend he had caught a case of the warm and fuzzies was amusing. More on Penelope, Bourne and Tommy’s friendship when they were children would have made their bond more believable and helped explain why Penelope didn’t escape Bourne when she had the opportunity. I really enjoyed this one although I think I’m going to have to read the one where Penelope was initially dumped.