She does not ride astride.
She does not fence or attend duels.
She does not fire a pistol, and she never gambles at a gentlemen's club.
Lady Calpurnia Hartwell has always followed the rules, rules that have left her unmarried - and more than a little unsatisfied. And so she's vowed to break the rules and live the life of pleasure she's been missing.
But to dance every dance, to steal a midnight kiss - to do those things, Callie will need a willing partner. Someone who knows everything about rule-breaking. Someone like Gabriel St. John, the Marquess of Ralston - charming and devastatingly handsome, his wicked reputation matched only by his sinful smile.
If she's not careful, she'll break the most important rule of all - the one that says that pleasure-seekers should never fall hopelessly, desperately in love...
Wow. I have not been this excited about an regency romance author like Sarah MacLean since I first read Julia Quinn. Or Loretta Chase. Or Lisa Kleypas. I loved this book! I can totally see why it's been on every Best Of list so far this year and I was so excited once I finished it last night that I made sure to buy a copy of Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord today. Don't worry, I did.
Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake was the loveliest, sexiest, most funnest historical romance that I have read in quite some time. The best part? It's Sarah MacLean's debut! Of course she's now set an extremely high standard for all her future books to meet but who cares? Even if all her other books are stinkers we'll always have this one.
Sarah MacLean's style is pitch perfect for her genre. She put together my two favorite elements for a great historical romance novel:
- She took a wallflower and made her into a social butterfly that believes she's beautiful. Callie was firmly "on the shelf" at the beginning of this book and by the end marries a marquess. It'ss a love match no less. (Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas is probably my favorite example of this.)
- She made the main man powerful, forceful but not violent, and utterly convinced that he is incapable of love. That is, until he meets her - THE ONE. He then spends the rest of the book trying to figure out why he feels the way he does. What is wrong with him? Why can't he stop thinking about her? Why does she confuse him so? (Leopold Villiers from Eloisa James' A Duke of Her Own works here.)
I just loved Calpurnia. I loved how brave she really wasn't at first, just frustrated with her life and ready for it to be different. I think we all can sympathize with that. Getting her stubborn on and finally deciding to do all those things she's wanted to but denied for so long was just as satisfying for me to watch as it was for Callie. I loved the humor in this book, and the pain too - I found myself tearing up several times. I fell a bit for Ralston myself; who could resist a man who vowed to keep his heart to himself after his mother left them when he was a boy? *sigh*
I've got a serious decision to make here: do I read Ten Ways now or do I wait until I've finished another book I've really looking forward to - Bloodshot by Cherie Priest? Hmm. Look soon for my thoughts on MacLean's YA novel, The Season. Her third in this numbered series, Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke's Heart, will be out on April 26, 2011.