Before you roll your eyes and stop reading this, hear me out! This was the first romance novel I have ever read. I received it from my Quarterly Book Box (along with Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A,S, King and The Killing Moon by N.K. Jemisin, as well as other goodies, some seen here). I was the person who hated going into the Romance section, always rolling my eyes at the absolutely ridiculous titles. Even this title is too corny for me, but I decided to give it a try. I really do enjoy books with romance, but a lot of romance novels I can’t take seriously. Here’s a good quote from How to Seduce an Angel in 10 Days by Saranna DeWylde: “Deep inside, it felt like someone had kicked her in the taco and was pinching her ovaries for good measure.” Taco?? TACO?! I rest my case.
But the good (smart) folk at Quarterly added a little blurb of reason as to why they chose this romance novel, and they said it was the first one they had read that they actually enjoyed. So I figured, “Hey, why not.” (The letter also mentioned how MacLean’s females are well written, not the wispy “fall for anything” type, which also pulled me towards it).
The synopsis from Goodreads
A decade ago, the Marquess of Bourne was cast from society with nothing but his title. Now a partner in London’s most exclusive gaming hell, the cold, ruthless Bourne will do whatever it takes to regain his inheritance—including marrying perfect, proper Lady Penelope Marbury.
A broken engagement and years of disappointing courtships have left Penelope with little interest in a quiet, comfortable marriage, and a longing for something more. How lucky that her new husband has access to such unexplored pleasures.
Bourne may be a prince of London’s underworld, but he vows to keep Penelope untouched by its wickedness—a challenge indeed as the lady discovers her own desires, and her willingness to wager anything for them… even her heart.
This isn’t a book to read if you’re looking for some mind blowing, life-changing story. This is a book to read when you’re feeling lonely and missing your significant other (or lack of one). Penelope was already such a sad character after her broken engagement eight years prior; so when she’s forced into another unhappy marriage, her sadness only grows. Michael Bourne is a man she knew as a child who she hadn’t talked to in at least 10 years. She knows Michael is only marrying her to reclaim the land he lost in a card game, but she knows she can use this marriage to her own advantage by using his reputation to secure good wives for her younger sisters. The two of them go in expecting unhappiness, but Penelope is so full of hope that he may love her, she has a tendency to forget that Michael (now known simply as Bourne) is no longer the young boy who used to make her laugh. He’s now one of four leaders of an underground casino known as The Fallen Angel, and has no interest in a wife. As time goes on, the two of them grow attracted to each other, first physically, then emotionally.
As I read, all I could do was feel so sorry for Penelope, who was such a fearsome woman who deserved nothing but love. And damn Michael! He was so caught up with being this rough-and-tumble tough guy that he couldn’t see how much he loved Penelope and how much she loves him. When he finally does figure it out, Penelope is so used to him using her for the sake of making their “love story” seem real, she has no idea whether she should believe him or not. Eventually, she realizes the only way to get through to him is to just stand up for herself and tell him how it is, no matter how much he may not want to hear it.
Their relationship may not be the healthiest (in fact, I wanted her to slap him more than I wanted her to kiss him), but for a lonely military wife, this book helped fend off the loneliness. It was a fun read, and it sucked me in from the first chapter. I would recommend it for those who need a good romantic story.
Do you have any favorite romance novels?