Very delicious fun read. I was debating whether to give this a 4 or 5 star but the characters and dialogue were so engaging I couldn't not give this an extra star for it. Well done! I've read one other book by Sarah Maclean but wasn't blown away by it but this one I enjoyed very much. I did feel the story lagged and grew redundant in the middle, but the dialogue and characters are what drove me to keep reading. I found myself totally connecting with the heroine in this Lady Penelope. The eldest of 5 daughters, she's a dreamer, a hopeless romantic who longs for more then a proper 'perfect' marriage to a man with a title. Her engagement to a Duke that was called off 8 years ago has followed her for years and tainted her as an 'aging spinster'. Her parents and family lord it over her head how she's ruined any chances for herself and her sisters to find good prospects because of the scandal she caused. She's felt restricted, controlled and used by everyone she's loved and counted on and continually feels disappointed by where she is in life. For a polite well mannered somewhat shy girl I really enjoyed seeing her bloom into a fearless adventurous woman who went after what she wanted. Her longing for that 'something more', for marrying for love and not wanting to settle for a quiet agreeable marriage I found myself wholeheartedly relating to. Oh boy did I ever. I wanted to hug her because I related to her on so many levels and I kept waiting & hoping to see her stand up for herself and go after what she wanted. Glad she did! The constant disappointment of getting your hopes crushed is something many can relate to, I sure do.
Michael, a.k.a Lord Bourne was quite the anti-hero in the beginning of this story. He lost his inheritance at 21 to a friend's scheming father over a game of cards. He's been on a path of revenge to get back his family home and lands and get revenge against the man who took it all away. As fate would have it, Michael's family home ends up being part of Penelope's dowry as a last minute attempt by her father to lure suitors. And that's where their paths cross again. He was selfish and cruel to Penelope in the beginning but we see his inner struggle of trying not to hurt Penelope and going out of his way to not 'taint' her so I can't really say he was a hopeless uncaring ass. I saw a lot of potential in him, he started to slowly and quite stubbornly come to terms of what's really important and revenge isn't everything and that he in fact deserves love and happiness. It really was wonderful to see. I loved these two together, I really did. They made me smile, broke my heart, pissed me off at times and made me root for them. I loved seeing both address and reflect on their childhood friendship and the connection they had and the underlying love that was always there between them. And Michael's nickname 'Sixpence' for Penelope was very charming and sweet.
And the supporting characters in this were just as delightful. Naturally I became very intrigued and enamored with Bourne's friends & partners at his gaming club: Chase, Cross and Temple. Cross and Temple in particular intrigued me early on. I adore those two! Cross with his quick wit and easy smile, Temple with his staggering build and saucy humor and oh yes..his tattoos :D. Oof. I wasn't sure what to make of him at first because he was described as a lumbering brute but that scene with him and Michael in the boxing ring made me stand up and take notice of him. I am very happy to see both Cross and Temple got books and looking forward to and hopefully enjoying them as well! *crosses fingers*