What would you do if you lost every cent to your name over one hand of cards? Well, that's what our hero Bourne is dealing with - and he's chosen revenge. And when the chance to reclaim an elusive plot of his land is offered he goes all in, even though it comes with a bride attached! Lady Penelope Marbury isn't what Bourne remembers from their childhood, though. She's got an agenda that she's prepared to do anything to protect - even if she has to bluff her way through. But, if she plays her cards right, she may win her hero's heart. We're reading A Rogue by Any Other Name by Sarah Maclean - and to sweeten the pot, we're joined by the fabulous Vanessa Zoltan (Harry Potter and the Sacred Text, Hot & Bothered) to break down everything that raises our eyebrows and pulls at our heartstrings. ***All bets are off when it comes to SPOILERS!***
Want to listen to a certain segment? Here is our outline this week:
0:00 - 04:23: Intro/History Facts
04:23 - 10:46: Synopsis
10:46 - 15:08: Parlour
15:08 - 01:11:27: General Discussion with Vanessa Zoltan
01:11:27 - 01:21:24: Outro
Thank you so much to Vanessa Zoltan for joining us today!
Be sure to preorder her book, Praying with Jane Eyre here!
Check out her website here!
Follow her on Twitter here!
Support the show and grab your copy of this week's book, A Rogue by any Other Name, here!
If you'd like to pick up a copy of An Earl, The Girl, and a Toddler by Vanessa Riley, you can do so here!
We are now including our synopses as a semi-transcription of the episode in our blog posts. You can learn more about how we compose these by reading this article. As a reminder though, our synopses are FULL of spoilers. Read ahead at your own risk :)
A Rogue By Any Other Name Synopsis:
The synopsis this week is a bit short since we were joined by Vanessa for the discussion...
Once upon a time there had been a very confident young man, one with good looks, enormous wealth, a fancy title, and a ton of luck. But luck, of course, runs out. And his did over one hand of vingt et un.
Oh yes, he had been goaded into it. Pressured gently by those he trusted most to wager more and more...until he put everything he owned that wasn’t entailed into the pot, confident because he had never had reason not to be.
But one hand of cards had played him right out of his everything - and had handed it all to his father’s best friend Viscount Langford - the friend who had helped Bourne run his estate after his father’s untimely death. Who was also the father of his best friend Thomas.
It was an excellent life lesson. And it provided the penniless Marquess of Bourne with a purpose at least - revenge.
The years passed and somehow Bourne had landed on his feet, and then some. Through hard work and with the help of some excellent business associates, he had built a staggering personal wealth and reacquired much of what he had lost that night so many years before. But one thing eluded him - the land that surrounded his entailed estate and family home, Falconridge. Yes, he was a part owner in The Angel, one of London’s most exclusive gaming clubs, but that was work - Falconridge was his home, his history. And though he may not have been the man he was when he had lived there - he would have it back.
But Langford knew how much Bourne wanted Falconridge, and for years he had kept it far from Bourne’s grasp.
But now it’s time to meet our heroine, Penelope. It’s been four years since she’s had an offer of marriage, and at 28 she’s more than on the shelf. She’s had a few unsuitable offers through the years, but her first engagement had ended in scandal when her promised Duke cried off to marry a slightly unsuitable woman. But Penelope hadn’t minded - for she could see they were terribly in love. Perhaps she should have minded though, because after that, she didn’t think she could settle for a marriage with anything less than that. But, she’s 28 now, and realized that her chances of that were quite low, and her chance of marriage was dim as well. Enter Thomas - her neighbor and one of her very best friends since childhood. When he proposes though, it’s anything but romantic as he say “Let me protect you” and “Let’s make a go of it, shall we?”
Penny knows she should say yes. But she doesn’t. She requests time to think about it.
She finds out later that day that her father has won the Falconridge lands in a hand of cards. And he’s attached those lands to her dowry. Suddenly the “let me protect you” makes sense to Penny, as many men will clamber at the chance to own the land that Bourne covets.
Penny doesn’t know Bourne - but she did know Michael. She, Thomas, and Michael had grown up running over the Falconridge lands, as their estates abutted each others. And so, knowing her life is about to change, Penny goes for an evening walk over to Falconridge, to remember. She loved that land, but not like Michael did. She felt the land should be returned to him, but her father hadn’t agreed.
Her walk isn’t as restorative as she hopes it would be. It’s winter - and it’s dark, and someone else is there. Her emotions cycle through fear to elation to sadness when she realizes it’s Bourne, who she has missed so much since the last time she saw him. But he’s not Michael any more - he’s a hardened shell of a man who, after some bantering, promptly absconds with Penelope slung over his shoulder into his estate.
He tells her that she’s made it too easy on him - a night alone with him in the manor house and they’ll be married in the morning. Penny knows that he won’t relent - but she does know she doesn’t have to accept his terms. So she bargains her placid assent for her sisters futures - two of which are still unwed. She will marry him, he will get the land, but they have to pretend that their marriage was about more than that so the scandal is squashed and her sisters still have the chance of a happy marriage. Bourne agrees.
Penelope though, wants more from her night of ruination, and Bourne doesn’t mind helping out in that regard. And very early into our book we get encounter number one, which is a trip under Penelope’s skirts.
The next morning, they are found by Penelope’s father, who comes blundering in with his rifle, shooting at the “castle.” Begrudgingly he sits down with Bourne later to negotiate the marriage terms and brings with him something so unexpected that Bourne is caught off guard. It’s a letter - and it’s proof of an indiscrecion that will ruin Langford. It’s exactly what Bourne has been looking for for so long. He had begun to think Langford devoid of anything of the sort, but here it was, and it was his if……..he reentered society and helped the last two daughters find suitable matches.
Bourne couldn’t believe his luck. He had already promised the same thing to Penelope, so it was easy for him to make that deal.
Their marriage starts off rocky, and continues that way. The two have heat and history, but Bourne’s revenge and a few secrets stand in the way of their happiness. Their story is one of learning to trust and learning to let go.
There are many, many ups and downs as the two fool society that they have a love match and then coolly distance themselves at different times.
And, as we know this is a romance, so they get there in the end. Bourne realizes that he wants to share his life with Penelope, so he sets about wooing his wife. Unfortunately, by that time he’s already pushed her away so many times that she can’t quite trust him, so it takes many gestures and some time before she believes he’s honest not just in front of society, but when they’re alone too.
The story is full of lots of gaming innuendos, a fun romp under a stained glass window, and finishes with our heroine standing up and betting (and bluffing spectacularly) for our hero’s honor.