My Rating: 4 / 5 stars
Verdict: Buy Borrow Bypass
Synopsis (from Goodreads):
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.
I thought the plot quite intriguing. MacLean does a great job here of building suspense and suspicion around Cross and for what exactly he feels the need to punish himself. Because of the way A Rogue By Any Other Name ends, I already knew the initial premise of this novel. But that didn’t make it any less enjoying! Pippa’s plea for Cross to aid in her research paved the way for plenty of clever jokes and turns of phrase. I also found the ending quite surprising. I won’t give any spoilers, but they were in such a bind that I honestly had no idea how Cross and Pippa would work their way out and end up happily together. But MacLean delivered and the ending was shocking and pleasing, leading to the promised happy ending.
Pippa is fantastic. I was initially worried that she wouldn’t be quite as “odd” as the summary makes her out to be, but MacLean wrote a dynamic character who would be, in fact, odd to society at this time. Pippa is clever, witty, and endearing. So, too, is Cross. I admit that Cross took some time to grow on me. He wasn’t one of my favorite characters in A Rogue By Any Other Name, so I honestly sort of dismissed him the first time around. But ultimately I appreciated his commitment, witty retorts, and love for his friends and family. Also, as this book focused on Pippa, we were afforded a handful of lines and sightings of the happy couple, Bourne and Penelope, from the first book in this series, which I greatly enjoyed.
What really surprised me with this book was that we heard much more from characters who were not wealthy, sex workers, and nefarious social climbers. It was interesting to hear from some of the sex workers, referred to in the book as prostitutes, as many of them seemed to enjoy their lifestyle and the protections that Cross provided. That being said, the sex workers quoted in this novel chose that profession and were not forced into it for one reason or another. So I’m sure that less happy and poorly treated sex workers existed and I’d be curious to hear their points of view. was much more language in this book about marrying because there were no other options, due to disability or a poorer family, and forced marriages. I’m glad that MacLean took the time to include more of these stories in this novel, as these stories were often the reality for men and women during this time. Not every match was a love match, and many were purely for societal gain.
Overall, I found this book to be delightful! I enjoyed the dynamic between Pippa and Cross quite a bit, although I do not love Cross quite so much as I love Bourne from A Rogue By Any Other Name (review here and available here). This is a fast read (I read it over the course of two days) and a fun read from start to finish. I would definitely recommend this book, and this series overall.
This book is…
Page Count: 373
Available here from Book Depository.
Have you read One Good Earl Deserves a Lover? What romance series do you recommend?