Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover by Sarah MacLean

January 28, 2015
Let me muse on that, again and again and again.

Have you ever noticed that sometimes books by different authors sort of blend in together? I had to keep reminding myself that this book was part of the Rules of Scoundrel's series by Sarah MacLean and not part of the The Wild Quartet by Miranda Neville. It just seemed to me that I could mix the stories together from either series and not be able to tell. Of course, that really doesn't have anything to do with my review, it was just a thought that crossed my mind while reading this story. I had numerous ponder moments while reading this story, much like the characters in Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover. Yes, there was a lot of brain activity going on, a lot of pondering and musing by Duncan (hero) and Chase, aka Anna, aka Georgina (heroine).

This has not been my favorite series by Sarah MacLean; we've had a couple of whiny heroes in it and the title of this one might lead one to think this is a light-hearted story - it's not. By the way, I am not overly fond of the "cute" titles that are flooding Romanceland these days. Not only do they misrepresent the stories, but some of them are really close enough to puns that they travel into groan territory. Catch a Falling Heiress, Earls Just Want to Have Fun, The Immortal Who Loved Me, The Nightingale Before Christmas, etc.

Now to our story. If you have been following this story you will know that there is a gaming establishment called Fallen Angels. There are four partners - Temple, Bourne, Cross, and Chase - and we've had all but Chase's story. Go no further if you haven't read any of these books! It was revealed in the last story that Chase was... wait for it... not a man but a woman! Yes, Chase is a woman disguised as a man. And, here I go again. I just have to say - again, I don't understand how these women in Romanceland can get away with pretending to be men for so long. Unless a woman is really really quite masculine I've never understood how they do it. Besides that we all know that women in Romanceland are not masculine looking. Oh sure they have wrap-around long legs, even when they are only five feet tall, but usually these women have curves - curves all over the place. So this disguised-as-a-man routine hasn't always been one of my favorite themes. At least this time she's not pretending to be a nine year old boy. I digress.

So, we have Chase the pretend guy who is the founder of the Fallen Angels and at times he pretends to be a "lady of the evening," sort of like Kitty from Gunsmoke. When Chase is a strumpet he becomes a she by the name of Anna, but in reality she is Georgina the sister of a duke. Now, Georgina made a mistake when she was sixteen. She laid in some straw with the stable boy, who she thought she luved, had a spot of whankee-roo, confessed her love, and watched as he grinned and walked away. Because of his cavalier treatment she can never trust another man. Not only that, but she finds out she is pregnant from the short encounter. So, she hides away with her child until she decides to reenter society. As luck would have it a cartoon of her scandalous past is broadcast in a scandal paper and now everyone is talking about her. Because of all the gossip it will make it harder for her to marry.  Somehow in her thinking she thinks that marrying a title will be of more benefit to her and her illegitimate child than being a sister to a duke. I never quite understood how she thought that a husband's protection would be any better than a brother's protection - but hey that's the plot. And, that is what she goes after with a unrelenting mind-set. Nothing can keep her from her goal of a guy with a title, even love. This stubbornness at times makes her unlikeable and often irritating.  Not only is she determined to find a titled husband, she is also not above using blackmail to do it. Over the years in her career as Chase she has documented files and files on people - secrets just waiting to be exploited. She is also not above using those secrets to seek revenge on people she perceives as ridiculing her in the past/present and future. She is an interesting woman and one that nobody wants to antagonize.

The most important thing to her is to see her daughter established in society, whether her daughter wants to be or not. Even if she was to fall in love with the richest, most powerful-lest, hunk-i-est manly man guy in the world. If there wasn't a title in front of his name, she wouldn't want him. Which leads me to our hero, Duncan, a powerful newspaper man, who coincidentally is responsible for the release of the scandalous cartoon. But that's ok, he's sorry. He is also similar in personality to Georgina. He is ruthless and occasionally vicious. In fact, he reminded me a little of William Randolph Hearst in his brutality, except Duncan is handsome. Together Duncan and Georgina make one volatile couple. There isn't any soft side to these two, which didn't bother me. What did bother me, what exasperated me was the constant, repetitive thought processes they gyrated through. I love you, who is Chase - I love you - I can't tell you - you love Chase more than you love me - I love you - I can't trust you - what are your secrets. In my opinion, trust and love walk hand and hand, you can't have one without the other. The constant thoughts of love or falling in love between Duncan and Georgina followed quickly by not trusting each other went on waaaaay too long.

Sometimes I read or see something that embarrasses me, even when it's not happening to me, and I had one of those moments in this book. For some reason Georgina decides that confessing her identity as Chase on top of a table in a room full of people is the way to save Duncan. Which was followed by one of those "I am Spartacus" moments with all of her friends yelling out that they are Chase. Not only was I embarrassed by this scene, I wondered how this was going to help her reputation or help her daughter's reentry into society.

Bottom line, I was not as enthralled with this story as I wanted to be. I was tired of the repetitive brain think, and Georgina/Chase/Anna's reasoning powers were beyond me. Duncan had issues with trust and not being able to catch on to who Chase really was - even after all the hints that whizzed by his head.  Duncan and Georgina/Chase/Anna annoyed me too much to enjoy this story.

Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality: Hot

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