Love Saves the World is honoured to be part of Sarah Maclean's blog tour for Never Judge a Lady by her Cover, the final book in her stunning The Rules of Scoundrels series. Avon is hosting a Tour-Wide Giveaway for $50.00 Choice Book Seller Gift Card and Print Set of The Rules of Scoundrels Books 1-3. (Enter via Rafflecopter below.)
To visit Sarah Maclean's other stops, click here.
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About the book:
By day, she is Lady Georgiana, sister to a duke, ruined before her first season in the worst kind of scandal. But the truth is far more shocking -- in London’s darkest corners, she is Chase, the mysterious, unknown founder of the city’s most legendary gaming hell. For years, her double identity has gone undiscovered ... until now.
Brilliant, driven, handsome-as-sin Duncan West is intrigued by the beautiful, ruined woman who is somehow connected to a world of darkness and sin. He knows she is more than she seems and he vows to uncover all of Georgiana’s secrets, laying bare her past, threatening her present, and risking all she holds dear ... including her heart.
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The summary begins with the phrase "by day" as though Lady Georgiana Pearson was a masked superhero protecting her real identity -- the truth of Georgiana is even more complicated: she doesn't have two lives, she has three: the world knows her as Lady Georgiana, ruined at 16 with a bastard daughter. The members of The Fallen Angel know her as Madame Anna. And a privileged few know her as Chase, the enigmatic and extremely powerful owner of The Fallen Angel.
For the most part, Georgiana had no problems shifting between Anna and Chase -- it was when Georgiana finally decided to resume her place in society that things got ... complicated.
Complicated is a word that is used quite a bit in Never Judge a Lady by her Cover. It's what describes Duncan West's past and his relationship with Lord Langley. Complicated is how Georgiana describes her needs and wants -- or, rather, what she believes her daughter, Caroline, needs and wants. It is because of Caroline that Georgiana is making this sacrifice: offering herself up like a lamb at the altar of London Society. I like how we use the word "complicated" to explain the seemingly unexplainable, and seemingly unsolvable. It is an apt term to describe Georgiana and Duncan, who both wield such amazing power: Georgiana, as Chase, keeps many of Society's secrets and isn't afraid to use it; Duncan controls the press and can bend and shape truth as he wants. But Georgiana, as Georgiana, is powerless as she seeks out acceptance for her daughter and Duncan has no choice but to follow Lord Langley's wishes -- and Duncan is powerless as he tries valiantly to save Georgiana, while he saves himself as well.
Maclean presents the conflict quite clearly: it's Duncan vs. Langley and Duncan vs. Chase, and it's Georgiana vs. herself. The greater question is, who is allied with whom? Duncan believed he and Chase had a long-standing relationship that he could rely on, but the straight, uncomplicated line becomes a complicated triangle when Georgiana enters the picture. All at once, Duncan wonders whether he could trust Chase and whether he ought to be afraid of the power that Chase holds. Georgiana trusts Duncan, but there's a part of her that could not completely trust his motives -- especially when the connection to Langley is revealed. Is Duncan using Anna against Chase? Is Duncan using her to further an unknown agenda? It is evident that Sarah Maclean had planned this out very well, and she guides her readers smoothly through the complex threads and issues in the story.
There's also a distinct cadence to Maclean's storytelling -- a beat, not unlike one's heart, which captures so clearly the emotions of the story: the urgency, the heartbreak, the defencelessness, and the passion. Georgiana wants Duncan, but Georgiana needs a title to secure her daughter.
"I wish we were other people," she said, quietly. "I wish we were simple, and all we cared about was food on our table and roofs over our heads."
"And love," he added.
She did not hesitate. "And love," she agreed.
"If we were other people," he asked, "would you marry me?"
It was her turn to look at the sky, to imagine that instead of here -- in Mayfair, by the light of a glittering ballroom, wearing a gown worth more than most people made in a year -- she was in the country, children pulling on her apron strings as she pointed out the constellations.
And how magnificent that would be. "I would."
"If we were other people," he said, pleasure in his tone as his fingers stroked over her face, "I would ask you."
She nodded. "But we aren't."
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It's wonderful to see Georgiana grow up: in Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord, she was a young lady faced with dimming prospects because of her condition. It seemed that she didn't have many choices open to her. In a sense, that detour in her life served as a blessing -- as a duke's daughter and a duke's sister, society had specific expectations of her. But, outside of London's watchful eye, she was able to grow up and define herself. I could imagine her living the rest of her life as Chase/Anna, and running The Fallen Angel -- I think it would have been a meaningful and fulfilling life for her. But it would be a denial of her heritage and her birthright, which is why Georgiana is now faced with an identity crisis. How does she fit her 26-year-old self in the shoes she left behind ten years ago? It's like fitting a square peg into a round hole.
"I never feel quite as though I belong there."
Because she did not belong there.
They walked for a bit longer. "But that does not mean that you cannot belong there."
"First I have to wish to belong there."
He understood. "The devastating battle between what one wants, and what one should want."
"She deserves a family," she said. "A respectable one. With a home. And a --" She stopped, considering the rest of the sentence. "I don't know." She cast about for something that would provide normalcy, finally settled on: "A cat. Or whatever normal girls have."
As though that did not sound positively idiotic.
He did not seem to think so. "She is not a normal girl."
"But she could be." If not for me. She left the last unsaid.
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There's a very thoughtful conversation about power and choice in the story: at its core, power is about having the ability to act or do. Both our hero and heroine have spent their adult life amassing power and wielding it carefully. In truth, it was a bit frightening seeing Chase act in such an omnipotent and omnipresent way. It was quite spellbinding how effortlessly Duncan West was able to sway the public's opinion of Georgiana through his newspapers. But power does not have a physical manifestation: it is not strength or courage. Outside of their domain, Duncan and Georgiana are like everyone else -- just as fallible and as imperfect and just as helpless in the face of a difficult decision.
Reading Maclean is a sensory experience: her scenes are vivid and affecting. Her words and characters tickle the mind and touches the heart. Never Judge a Lady by her Cover is an amazing end to an amazing series.
Disclosure: I received this ARC via Edelweiss as part of this event. Thank you to Sarah Maclean and Avon for the opportunity. Yes, this is an honest review.
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About the author:
She loves to hear from readers. Please visit her at www.macleanspace.com
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Avon is hosting a Tour-Wide Giveaway for $50.00 Choice Book Seller Gift Card and Print Set of The Rules of Scoundrels Books 1-3. (Enter via Rafflecopter below.)
To visit Sarah Maclean's other stops, click here.
a Rafflecopter giveaway