Wednesday, January 08, 2020

Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean

Can you say addict? After discovering Sarah MacLean's Brazen and the Beast, I've become addicted to her historical romances. Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake, the first in her Love by Numbers trilogy, is just as delightful as her latest books. She creates great characters, has a great deal of humor in the book, and steamy sex scenes. I did see her recent apology on Twitter, though, for some of her descriptions during a scene in this book, and I found that amusing.

We meet Lady Calpurnia Hartwell when she's suffering from an embarrassing scene during her debut season. She also encounters Gabriel St. John, the Marquess of Ralston, that evening. He's kind to her, but ten years later, he doesn't remember meeting her while she's been longing for him. Now, she's twenty-eight, a spinster, whose image of a gorgeous man is Ralston. But, he has a wicked reputation as a rake. She's challenged by a conversation she has with her brother Benedick when she says she's never done anything exciting. Callie makes a list of disgraceful activities she'd like to try. The first item on the list? "Kiss someone - passionately." And, Callie picks Ralston.

Callie's visit to Ralston's house late at night is disgraceful itself. The sister of the Earl of Allendale can't visit a man at night. When the butler doesn't ask, but escorts her to Ralston's bedroom, she's shocked. She surprises both of them when she asks him to kiss her.

Ralston wants something in return. He and his twin brother, Nicholas, have learned they have a half-sister, Juliana. Because Calpurnia is a proper lady, she's just the one to take Juliana under her wing and introduce her to society. Ralston knows Juliana won't be accepted as the daughter of a woman with a soiled reputation who left her husband for an Italian merchant. Callie is respected.

Well, if Callie fulfills all the items on her list, she might not be so respected. She agrees to help Juliana, while an intrigued Ralston seems destined to help Callie with her scandalous activities. And, the more she's in his company, the more scandalous those activities become.

Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake introduces a woman who becomes more confident the more she explores a man's world. Lady Calpurnia Hartwell doesn't want to be on a pedestal or in a gilded cage. She wants to have the same opportunities men do, but she's hampered by her class and her sex. MacLean gives her a voice, and an opportunity to explore other options.

As I said, the characters are wonderful. The two protagonists play off each other beautifully. Callie's brother's attitude about her and her activities is unexpected, and humorous. This book introduces protagonists who will be featured in each of the next books, Nicholas St. John, and the sister, Juliana. I'm looking forward to the new adventures, the new lovers, and interesting opinions by the heroines in Sarah MacLean's books.

Sarah MacLean's website is www.sarahmaclean.com

Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean. Avon, 2010. (paperback), 422p.

*****
FTC Full Disclosure - Library book

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