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Sarah MacLean – A Rogue By Any Other Name

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Or name(s) – he has two already.

Publisher: Avon (HarperCollins)
Pages: 386
Type: Fiction
Age: Adult
ISBN: 978-0-062-06852-1
First Published: 2012
Date Reviewed: 15th January 2016
Rating: 2.5/5

Michael, Lord Bourne, has been gone for a decade; he left after his guardian, Langford, lured him into gambling away his land and fortune. Michael’s childhood friend, Penelope, is swiftly aging away from eligibility in the marriage market; her father adds to her dowry Bourne’s old lands, which the family have since gained. Now part owner in a casino, Michael is a very different man, but he remains determined to get back his heritage. And if marrying Penelope is the way to do it then so be it.

A Rogue By Any Other Name is a book that begins very well. The set up works; the characterisation is good, the use of a casino different, the writing strong – everything holds a lot of promise. Penelope and Michael are great characters – Penelope’s wanting to have a different, more interesting, life than that which is usual means she’s adventurous and generally not afraid to say what she thinks and whilst Michael has changed a great deal since she knew him, the way they interact indicates a good book ahead.

At this stage the romantic element of the book is easy to read and enjoyable, and the inclusion of letters the younger Penelope sent to Michael is a nice touch. In terms of relationship content, it quickly becomes apparent that Michael will be taking the lead but it’s of a type that is supposed to be alluring and will be to some readers and just not alluring but likely readable for others. (Mostly – I should point out that there are a couple of things that could be called either way depending on personal preferences.)

However as the book continues, the promise of the beginning first flies out of the window, then comes back to not only shut it but lock it several times over. The story and development is ever more manipulated, the angst overdone to the point of becoming boring. The characters continue to believe things can never be good between them, which works whilst they are having problems but as the relationship takes a turn for the better – as you knew it would because this is a romance – still this ‘it won’t work’ carries on. It’s a constant refrain from both even when they’re in each others arms and giddy with love, an obvious device to keep the book going.

Change too does Michael’s nature – he becomes domineering to the extent you might wonder whether Christian Grey was the inspiration in terms of control, the problems here being similar in their effect, if not their content (though there are some minor similarities), to E L James’ series.

And the writing takes a turn. Anachronisms, historical errors, and the constant use of repetitive thoughts.

Had the angst been curtailed and literary devices limited, A Rogue By Any Other Name may have kept its promise, but by the end of the book, when the love is fully established and known by both, and yet the angst is still going on, you’ll be wondering if another name might indeed have made a difference.

Related Books

None yet

 
12th January 2018: Combining Goals, General Thoughts, And Reading Life

A photograph of Netley Abbey

I didn’t read as much in December as I’d planned, what with all the busyness of Christmas and other happenings. I’m hoping to make up for it later this month; I’ve many ‘easier’ books to read (I dislike that term but romance and fantasy is generally less mentally taxing, and I welcome it).

The yearly tradition of Thackeray being moved to the new year’s reading list has happened. This year he took with him Solomon Northup – he got lost amongst review copies some months ago – and Courtney J Sullivan’s The Engagements, which is a relative tome to start in late November with the festive season looming.

For the first time since I started reading avidly, I specifically asked that any Christmas presents not be books. I received one book and that was only because it was a present that had been meant for another occasion and hadn’t turned up in time. It was a strangely wonderful situation; as much as I have lots of books to get to regardless, not receiving more was freeing. And as much as receiving an awesome book can get you out of a funk, I can say that not receiving any books can do similarly. In fact I’m now raring to go, there’s just one thing I’m having to consider:

I’ve been spending a lot of time knitting. A few years ago, my Second Mum, as I’ll call her, started making me sweaters after she saw me wearing shop-bought knitwear. Having always been interested in knitting but only ever knowing enough to start but not finish a scarf (I’ve 3 of those lying around), I asked for instruction and now have enough knowledge to graduate to sweaters myself. I did the logical thing and decided to make my first project one for a small person rather than my adult self so there was less to lose if it went wrong… and then soon realised it wasn’t so logical a choice because children grow at an alarming rate. At best, my nephew will be able to wear the sweater for the rest of the cold season we’re currently in so it’s a bit of a race against the clock. I’ve decided I’ll make him a hoodie next but a couple of sizes bigger so I don’t feel the need to spend all my free time making it and can pick it up every now and then. The good thing is that the reading in the small moments idea has translated well to knitting – from what I’ve read, those who knit a lot have their projects ready for queues and public transport, just like readers their books.

So that’s taking more of my time at the moment but I’ll be finished soon and looking forward to giving time back to reading; I enjoy it but knitting is going to have to go a few steps back in the priority line.

…Because I am reading, albeit slowly. On a few present-giving occasions last year, I found myself with a selection of romance books – hence the note at the beginning of this post. I received the last two books in Eloisa James’ Desperate Duchesses series, a couple of books by Sherry Thomas, and a Sarah MacLean I’ve heard a lot about. I also received Eowyn Ivey’s To The Bright Edge Of The World, and in terms of review copies Jessie Greengrass’s Sight is high on the list. I won’t be getting to them all one after the other but most will be read fairly soon.

Once again I’ve decided not to set any particular reading goals – I’ll read as much as I can get to. Last year’s reading wasn’t as diverse as I’d hoped and I think keeping that in mind this new year may mean it’ll be better. Certainly it seems that when I make any sort of specific target in regards to anything related to books it doesn’t happen. Vague notions are best.

What are you hoping to acheive this year, in terms of reading or otherwise?

 
Second Half Of 2017 Film Round Up

In late November, I found out that Channel 5 was showing (and then, crucially, putting online) a large number of TV Christmas films. In addition to my decision to take advantage of that I thought it time I get out my Audrey Hepburn box set, which I’d been saving for that mythical perfect moment. Due to the number of Christmas films – admittedly not nearly as many as Channel 5 had available because I soon realised quality had nothing to do with their selection – I’ve split the films into two categories.

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Get Smart (USA, 2008) – A fun and silly spy movie.

Great Expectations (UK, 2012) – Lacking some of the book’s humour, but not bad overall.

He’s Just Not That Into You (USA, 2009) – I’d seen the so-so ratings but I’d wanted to see this for a few years and found it didn’t disappoint. Were the endings predictable and sometimes too sweet? Yes. But I liked the overall execution and the little things included, like the way the camera panned out from Bradley Cooper and Scarlet Johansson and they were standing on different sides of the line of a parking space.

Leap Year (USA/Ireland, 2010) – I was surprised to find out this is credited as half Irish because it felt very much like Ireland through Hollywood’s eyes.

Madagascar (USA, 2005) – Good.

Roman Holiday (USA, 1953) – Loved this. I wrote about it in November, so I’ve keep it short here.

Sabrina (USA, 1954) – That age difference and the lack of character development…

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Christmas Under Wraps (USA, 2014) – One of those average, overly sweet, films to have on in the background to help you feel festive.

A Prince For Christmas (USA, 2015) – Although this is what you expect – sickly sweet – the two leads are particularly good to the extent that it’s not a bad film at all. And the lack of any royal trappings, whilst almost certainly due to budget constraints, means it seems more realistic.

Family For Christmas (USA, 2015) – The makers of this film would like you to note that having children is better than a career in all circumstances. They also want to tell you that a woman who has had children must remain at home forever, and that if (spoiler following) you get a second chance with your ex-boyfriend, quitting your awesome job before the first date, so that you’re completely ready for the horse and carriage, is a very good idea. It’ll make the date incredibly awkward, but we’ll not mention that.

Cinderella Christmas (USA, 2016) – An interesting spin on the story, but there’s a lot of angst.

Four Christmases (USA, 2008) – Horrendous.

With 3 films on January’s list already and a couple I’m looking forward to, the new year is going well so far.

Do you like to watch holiday-themed films?

 
December 2017 Reading Round Up (Happy New Year!)

Happy new year! I hope you had a lovely holiday and that 2018 is treating you well. I’m writing this beside a large cup of coffee (that way round rather than there’s a coffee beside me) because I went to see the Terry Pratchett exhibition in Salisbury yesterday; we had to queue in the freezing wind and as the winter weather has not been wintery so far it was a bit of a shock and I’m rather groggy. In terms of exhibition content, the steamrolled hard drive was on display and the museum had created a small mock-up of Pratchett’s office, complete with video games and Star Wars references. The best thing, though, wasn’t an object but, instead, the snippets of description they’d included alongside the majority of the items – Pratchett’s own words.

The last few days I’ve been wondering how to go about these first of the year posts. I feel that if I’m going to account for December’s reading, writing about that first would be best, even if it isn’t the strongest way to begin.

All books are works of fiction. The non-Christmas books may be better to read about even if I have already reviewed them.

The Books

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Alison Kent: This Time Next Year – A woman visits her grandmother for Christmas, meets a man her grandmother neglected to tell her about, and amongst lots of arguing they get together. An okay story but there really was a lot of arguing, more than any stereotypical ‘they fought and then made up’.

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Claire North: The End Of The Day – The Harbinger of Death does his job, going around letting people know it’ll soon be time, whilst attempting to have a normal human relationship and stay away from those who would harm him. Very good.

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HelenKay Dimon: It’s Not Christmas Without You – A man who refuses to understand his ex-girlfriend’s passion for her career turns up in her new city to win her back without any intention of changing his thoughts. That’s very much my summary rather than the glossy one you’ll find elsewhere – I’m with those who think the hero is awful and Carrie should find someone who will respect her event management work.

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Jaci Burton: A Rare Gift – An ex-sister-in-law and brother-in-law get together. I personally found this uncomfortable, but I know others were okay with the set-up.

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Julianne Pachico: The Lucky Ones – Various ex-classmates describe moments of their life during the conflicts in Colombia. An interesting idea.

Claire North’s book was my favourite, the author using various ideas from the fantasy genre and nodding at Terry Pratchett, to produce something that is funny and thoughtful and, for all its leanings towards other works, original. It was this melding of concepts that I liked most, the author almost experimenting with ideas without ever straying from telling a good story.

Going forward I think I’ll only include the Quotation Report heading when I have quotations to share. And as I’ll be writing about plans and goals and what have you very shortly, I’m going to leave this post here.

What book was/will be your first completed book of the year? (Mine’s likely to be an Eloisa James. More on that later.)

 
Christmas 2017

A photograph of flowers from a Christmas wreath

I’m struggling with a lot of busy-ness at the moment, which I know has been evident here (it’s just taken a while for me to accept – I’ve missed posting). In that context, Christmas has come at the right time and I’m going to use it to read and get back to writing.

I’ll be back on Monday 8th January with my round ups. The pages for What’s In A Name will be posted on 1st January as per their set schedule – if you’ve signed up/will be signing up, you’ll find the link to them on the sidebar. (They won’t be on the blog home page – I don’t want them filling up everyone’s inboxes.)

I’m aware I have a few reviews left to write – they will be my first priority upon returning. A couple of Young Writer of the Year books and review copies.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and see you in January.

 

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