Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover is the fourth and FINAL book in Sarah MacLean’s Rule of Scoundrel series—also known as one of the best romance series we’ve ever read. The series follows the four owners—Bourne, Cross, Temple, and Chase (in that order)—of the notorious gaming hell known as The Fallen Angel.
**WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS FOR SARAH MACLEAN’S ENTIRE RULE OF SCOUNDREL SERIES FOLLOW**
**Seriously! Turn back now if you haven’t read the third book especially.
Alright, you’ve been warned.
Georgiana did as some teenagers do, having sex and getting pregnant, which caused her ruination. Publicly shamed, she “retires” from Society to raise her daughter. But really, she’s been plotting her revenge. She’s borrowed money from her brother, the Duke of Leighton, and has used it to become the most powerful “man” in all of London by collecting the elite’s secrets.
All seems pretty good for Georgiana until she decides she needs to take a titled husband for her daughter’s sake. Enter Duncan West—the untitled newspaper mogul after her heart.
Rachel: Let's get right down to the important bits. On a scale of sort-of-sexy to super-sexy where does Duncan West fall?
For those of you watching at home, this puts him in a tie for second place among MacLean heroes, with Cross also 9/10, and Ralston a perfect 10.
Rachel: that's an amazing coincidence. That is also where he falls on my placement.
Diana: I'm a big fan of heroes who come from nothing. Duncan West may be the modern-day equivalent of a multimillionaire, but he built it all himself. There's an especially poignant scene, I thought, where he's talking about his swimming pool and how he installed it so he'd never have to be dirty again. I thought that insight into how his background affects him today was great.
Rachel: I loved that too. And while I hadn't expected to like that he wasn't titled, I ended up loving it. He's just a rich, hardworking dude. And that's sort of amazing. It's especially amazing in a historical where the guys always have a title. I mean, you guys, not everyone can have a title.
Diana: So true. Not that I don't love Maclean's titled heroes--obviously, Ralston is still (always and forever) tops, but in some ways I feel like I have to suspend my disbelief more with aristocratic heroes. I always suspect that in real life they'd be really horrible people.
Rachel: To be fair, they were kind of really horrible people in the books as well. My love for Ralston burns brighter than the light of a thousand suns, but he was a total dillweed.
How did you feel about West's constant desire to protect Georgiana from Chase when she so obviously didn't need protection? She kept dropping mad hints that she was Chase, and West ignored them.
Diana: I loved it, actually. I thought the conflict was kind of genius. I felt like this was a great multi-layered conflict, I guess. Like, the story never petered out because it always had some conflict to deal with. First Georgiana returning to society, and then the conflict when West found out that Georgiana was Anna, and then, finally, the confusion about Chase.
I also want to note that in a way that misunderstanding about Chase was the exact same one that we readers fell into. If we/West had even once considered that Chase didn't have to be a man, the answer would have been obvious.
Rachel: There was a point at the end when I really wanted to travel into the book and shake West, screaming "She is Chase you idiot!"
Diana: That part where she was in Chase's office? The first time? It was like...how much clearer can she possibly be?
Rachel: When I found out that Chase was a woman, I reread the first book to see why I assumed Chase was a man. And really, MacLean never slips up. Other people are sometimes called he or something. But Chase is always Chase.
Diana: It was awfully clever. And also why I can't blame West too much.
So any particularly favorite parts?
Rachel: When Georgiana single-handedly destroys some woman at a party was pretty good. I also liked drunk Georgiana quite a bit. The pool scene was a real stand-out because I do love to swim. Almost any scene that contained both West and Georgiana was flawless because the tension was just so explosive. Um. I think that's every scene in the book.
What about you?
Diana: Obviously I already mentioned the pool scene, which is probably my favorite moment. And...pretty much every scene between them in the second half of the book.
I also thought the scene when her daughter went and had tea with West was adorable.
Rachel: That was pretty cute. I'm not usually sold on heroines or heroes with children in my romance. Maybe it's because I have a kid? I don't know. It just doesn't do anything for me. But I was able to get on board with Caroline because she really isn't in the book that much, and there is an excuse for why she isn't around much other than convenient plotting
Diana: So, in the Maclean ranking, where does this book stand?
Rachel: I would place it exactly where I've placed the heroes. 9 Rules to Break will forever be my favorite because Ralston. But this and One Good Earl Deserves a Lover are tied for my second place. Basically, what I'm saying is I judge my romance books by how sexy the hero is.
Diana: An extremely important criteria. My fondness for Pippa means that One Good Earl edges this one, very slightly, out. But considering what a MacLean fangirl I am that's a very high ranking indeed.
And now there's a new series!
Diana: The back cover sounds Amazing. I just can't believe I have to wait to read it. Also I just want to take a moment for "Royal Rogue's Reign of Ravishment." I die.
Rachel: Wait. "My first heroine is Lady Sophie Talbot, youngest of a particularly scandalous family (all of her sisters are named with "S" names and her eldest sister is in a very scandalous marriage...hint hint)." Who is that? Why am I confused?
Diana: I don't know! Clearly a re-read is in order.
Rachel: Well. We'll get on that, dear readers, and let you know what we find out. Until then, read this book. Because it's amazing.
Diana: Co-signed. Read it! And then comment and tell us what you thought!
Till next time!