Mrs. Julien’s #CBR5 Review #83 & #84: A Rogue by Any Other Name and No Good Duke Goes Unpunished by Sarah MacLean

There are many reasons that Sarah MacLean is on my autobuy list, but one of them is that she has enormous potential that is coming into full flower. No Good Duke Goes Unpunished has a twist at the end that not only guarantees I will be combing back through this and the other two books in her “Rules of Scoundrels” series, but I will purchase next book, Put Up Your Dukes*, the second it becomes available. These historical romances feature four displaced aristocrats who have joined together to run a wildly successful gambling hell called The Fallen Angel. Each book features one of the exiles, i.e. A Rogue by Any Other Name (Bourne), One Good Earl Deserves a Lover (Cross), No Good Duke Goes Unpunished (Temple), and Put Up Your Dukes** (Chase).

A Rogue by Any Other Name

Theoretically, I read A Rogue by Any Other Name last year, but it was during my frantic romance devouring phase and it didn’t really capture my attention. This is not the first time that has happened and it won’t be the last. I read the novel again properly this year after One Good Earl Deserves a Lover because I loved the latter so.

Michael, Marquess of Bourne, and Lady Penelope were childhood friends. He went away to school and she stayed home as was the curse of women in her era. They wrote letters, but Michael’s responses petered out and then stopped after he gambled away his inheritance and left Society behind. For ten years, he has been bent on reclaiming the property that he considers his birthright. There are a lot of people in romances who gamble away their fortunes, but they are rarely the hero. It’s a great touch. Bourne is cold, driven, and, as I said in reference to him in the One Good Earl review, suffers “from a prolonged case of Head Up Posterior”. When Bourne discovers that “his” land is now tied to Penelope’s dowry, it brings him back into the orbit of his childhood friend. Wallflower Penelope is surprised to see Michael again and not happy with the changes in him. They gradually come together as he both resolves and relinquishes his issues. Overall, I enjoyed A Rogue by Any Other Name, but it was not as good as either of the two that followed it.

No Good Duke Goes Unpunished

When she was young, terrified, and unthinking, Mara Lowe hatched a plan to escape an arranged marriage to a man three times her age. Caught in the aftermath of her not-so-cunning plan, William Harrow, Duke of Lamont was branded “The Killer Duke” and exiled from Society. Twelve years later, again desperate, but mercifully more perspicacious, Mara approaches the Lamont to help provide his  absolution in trade for help with her shiftless brother. Now living as “Temple”, the resident pugilist at the Fallen Angel, William has actually built a good life for himself out of Mara’s wreckage; however, he longs to confirm to himself and others that he is not a murderer. He and Mara enter into an arrangement to reveal that she is alive and shame/humiliate/disgrace her in the process. What with being a romance novel and all, their love story intervenes.

In old school romances, the hero was often, forgive me, a prick. Brooding, arrogant, and high-handed, the heroine would nevertheless be attracted to him and somehow redeem him. No Good Duke Goes Unpunished has an unsympathetic lead, but it is the heroine. Mara made decisions with horrible repercussions as a child, which is forgivable, but by continuing not to come forward for over a decade, she made adult choices that continued the fallout. She was hard to like even when MacLean surrounded her with a gaggle of plot moppets and a pet pig. (Oy vey.) But enough about Mara, what about the old school redemptive heroine Temple? Oh, he’s a big lug. A big, delicious, magnificent, FORGIVING lug. Temple experiences more negative backlash from Mara’s actions than even she does, but, it must be noted, he also gained a kind of freedom he would never have had in the role that was his so-called birthright. Against the advice of literally almost everyone else in the story, they find their way to each other.

Bring on Chase’s book, Put Up Your Dukes***!

This review and The (Shameful) Tally 2013 can also be found on my tiny little blog.

*Not the real title.
**Still not the real title.
*** Even if it was the real title, it would have been better for Temple’s book.

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6 thoughts on “Mrs. Julien’s #CBR5 Review #83 & #84: A Rogue by Any Other Name and No Good Duke Goes Unpunished by Sarah MacLean

  1. Was thinking of you yesterday as I stumbled across a huge online writer’s community that has, as an active participant, Courtney Milan! So many of these “communities” are filled with people who know less than I do (really setting the bar fairly low there), so you can imagine my surprise to see people like Courtney and Huge Howey (Wool) actually chiming in on discussions here. Not sure if you’re interested in joining up – maybe it’s too stalkerish to follow favorite authors as they discuss how to sell kindle books and negotiate international copyright law? But if not, here you go!

    http://www.kboards.com/index.php?PHPSESSID=NG9TqsTteRcSYgYuFAtIZ3&board=60.0

      • I’m claiming it stalker-free because I’m genuinely interested in learning from people who know a billion times more than I do.

        Also, the Internet was founded on temerity. Where else can you sit at home naked and anonymously put down celebrities to their digital faces? I only occasionally get barbed comments but when I do I’m hard pressed to keep my response civil, “I’m sorry, is my utterly free and many say, quite helpful resource not to your liking? Well then by all means – cast aspersions!”

  2. I think Put Up Your Dukes needs to go on the list of romance titles you totally have dibs on. I re-read Cross’ book over the weekend, and have re-evaluated and upgraded it, as Cross’ martyr-like self pity is less bad on a second read, and I’d forgotten just how amazing the chemistry between him and Pippa is. Also, re-reading the book after Temple’s book makes you see a lot of things in a different light. Did you listen to that podcast I sent you the link to? So many juicy revelations about Chase and teasers for the next book. Which probably isn’t out until August because MacLean is selfishly prioritizing having a child. It’ll be a looong wait.

    • [whispering] I don’t know how to listen to a podcast.

      I loved Cross and Pippa’s book because she was spectacular. That scene with the chair though? Totally ridiculous. Having said that, MacLean needs more love scenes. I am impossible to please.

      Put Up Your Dukes was on the dibs list, but it should have been more aphorism-y to fit in with MacLean’s theme. This review took me forever for some unknown reason (given that I wasn’t trying to be clever just write a straight review) and I just couldn’t face spending more time on choosing my joke title. I think I’m done with reviews for the year. #85 goes up tomorrow.

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