Series: Love By Numbers, Book 1
Also in this series: Ten Ways to be Adored When Landing a Lord, Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke's Heart
Published by Avon on 30 March 2010
Genres: Adult, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Girls & Women, Historical, Historical Romance, Love & Romance, Regency, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues
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Place(s) Traveled to: London, England (1823)
First Line(s): Lady Calpurnia Hartwell blinked back tears as she fled the ballroom of Worthington House, the scene of her most recent and most devastating embarrassment.
Last year I kept hearing about this wonderful debut author named Sarah MacLean and her book The Season (my review). Which was about three teenage friends trying to survive in Regency England. I just had to run out and get it and instantly fell in love with Sarah MacLean’s writing. Then when I heard the premise for her next book, Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake, I was giddy with anticipation. Lady Calpurnia Hartwell is your typical women living in Regency England. She follows the strict rules of society and tries to convince herself she’s content even though she is considered to be ‘on the shelf.’ But when her younger sister becomes engaged and makes some comments that Callie inadvertently overhears, Callie realizes that she’s tired of being the woman that society expects her to be. So she decides to make a list of nine things that she’d like to do.
The list ranges from things like ‘learning to fence’ and ‘wanting to gamble ‘(in a gentleman’s club no less) to the almost heartbreaking of ‘to be considered beautiful.’ Along the way Callie meets Gabriel St. John, the Marquis of Ralston who becomes her partner in crime as Callie dives into her list with both feet. Their encounters are both humorous and at times very very steamy. I swear I think that MacLean made me blush at least once….maybe more. Nine Rules to Break is more than just your typical romance novel though its a journey of self discovery and about accepting one’s self for who they are. I loved watching Callie come out of her shell and learn that she could be happy even if she doesn’t fit into the mold that society says she fit in.
While I did enjoy this book it wasn’t perfect and does fall into some of the common pitfalls of a romance novel. Most notably was the head jumping. The book starts off alternating between Ralston and Callie and at first this is structured. But its not long before the POV would change based on what is convenient to move the scene along. So there are moments when the story will be told for a paragraph or two by Ralston or another character and then return to Callie. There was also that one scene that took up 1/2 a chapter from the POV of Ralston’s sister Juliana – a scene that just seemed so randomly dropped into the story. It did nothing to move Ralston’s & Callie’s story along and I for one found it very distracting.
I also thought that the word “shan’t” was used a bit too much. Yes this might be a bit nitpicky of me and I understand that its not easy to try to write a story in a time when many of the words and phrases that we take for granted in this modern world just didn’t exist back then. So while I did get annoyed with the over use of that one word I do have to admire Sarah MacLean’s ability to write in the Regency time period. Just from reading her blog I know that it wasn’t an easy feat to do. I mean who knew the word neckline didn’t really come into being until the 1920’s? I know I didn’t.
Overall though I did enjoy reading Nine Rules to Break While Romancing a Rake. I found all the characters to be believable and loved Callie and Ralston’s romance. Did I mention that their story is steamy? If not, then trust me….this is a book that can make even the regular romance reader blush. The dialogue was witty and fun and I loved Callie’s brother. I hope that he gets his own story at some point. One that will hopefully include more of his and Callie’s mother who I think was underused in Nine Rules. She was a secondary character that I think could have added some really humorous scenes to the novel. But she’s also one who could potentially be a big distraction so I can understand why she was kept on the sidelines.
The next story in this series will feature Ralston’s twin brother, Nick and will be called Ten Ways to Be Adored When Romancing a Lord. Doesn’t that just sound like fun? I know that I cannot wait to read this one and learn more about Nick and that mysterious scar of his. There is no official release date for Ten Ways as of yet but I believe its expected in stores sometime in the winter of 2010. You can bet that I will be stalking Sarah MacLean on her blog and twitter until the announcement is made. Until then….I think I might just have to go and re-read Nine Rules again. Nine Rules to Break While Romancing a Rake will be available in stores on Tuesday so mark your calendars and be sure to check it out the next time you find yourself in the bookstore.