This book was absolutely worth the wait. Don’t get me wrong. I hated waiting for it. But I have to take my hat off to Sarah MacLean. She has clearly been planning this book for a long time. There have been so many little clues, so many little pieces placed on the gameboard for this story to play out. And as it all fell into place, I couldn’t help but be completely and totally impressed with how she did it.
The blurb spoils a few of the biggest reveals. Like the fact that Chase is a woman. If you haven’t been following this series, that will mean nothing to you. But Chase is one of four owners of the Fallen Angel club… the leader, in fact. And in the first three books, no mention at all was made of the fact that the mysterious character was a female. But MacLean did it in such a way, that I never even noticed that the character had no gender reference. Like most other readers, I just assumed Chase was a man, who would be the final hero of the series. Nope. Not only is she a woman, but a lady. She is Lady Georgiana, sister to the Duke of Leighton, ex-fiance of Lady Penelope (A Rouge By Any Other Name.) The hero: newspaperman Duncan West.
There are many other reveals, but I am going to try not to spoil them, because the surprises are really half of the fun.
Georgiana is a ruined woman. A groomsman sweet talked her into a roll in the hay at 16, and from that encounter, little Caroline was born. An illegitimate child is too much scandal for even a girl of Georgiana’s breeding to overcome. Society turned its back on her. So she decided to rule them all, and did it behind the guise of Chase. Unfortunately, her ruin is spilling over to her little girl. The secrets she has accumulated at the Angel aren’t enough to force the ton to accept Caroline; only a titled husband can do that.
West regrets the cartoon his paper ran, drawing attention to Caroline. Not only that, but seeing Georgiana at her first ball back in the game, he respects her; he likes her. And he decides to help her get the husband she wants. Their collusion puts them in each other’s orbit –and their attraction to one another will not be denied. But attraction or no, these two have some very practical concerns that rule out anything that could ever be more between them. Or do they?
Georgiana is so wonderfully complex. She is so smart and ruthless and powerful. But above all things she is a mother. I love how that trumps everything else. I love that despite the fact she is surrounded by vice and iniquity, Georgiana remains innocent in so many ways; that she is jaded and still emotionally vulnerable, to love… to sex… and to the beasts of the ton. Even as she could crush them all, she has to struggle at times to hold her head high and remember her own worth.
West is complicated too. He is also powerful, yet the secrets that hang over his head could destroy him. He and Georgiana are so alike in some ways. Neither can trust the other; and both have very good reasons. But together they are wonderful. I believe in the fierceness of how they love each other, and in the hopelessness of it. I believe that they think they have to put their own needs last, but in each other touch and each surrender to desire, it’s just. so. good.
It’s a great ride seeing Georgiana’s struggle with her dual identity, and I really had no idea what would become of her alter ego and the club. I really enjoyed catching up with her partners and their wives over the course of the story too. It’s such a great conclusion to the series. Yes, it could work as a standalone, but part of its awesomeness is the fact that it’s such a great culmination of events. It’s just fantastic.
Click to purchase: Amazon
Never Judge a Lady By Her Cover
by Sarah MacLean
Release Date: November 25, 2014