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Series: Love By Numbers

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Review: Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke’s Heart by Sarah MacLean

Posted by Irish in 5 Stars, Adult, Review2 Comments

Review: Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke’s Heart by Sarah MacLeanEleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke's Heart by Sarah MacLean
Series: Love By Numbers,
Also in this series: Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake, Ten Ways to be Adored When Landing a Lord
Published by Avon on 26 April 2011
Genres: Adult, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Girls & Women, Historical, Historical Romance, Love & Romance, Regency, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues
Pages: 367
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
five-stars
Also by this author: The Season, Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake, Ten Ways to be Adored When Landing a Lord, Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover, The Rogue Not Taken, A Scot in the Dark

Place(s) Traveled to: London, England and Dunscroft // Yorkshire, England (1823)

First Line: In retrospect, there were four actions Miss Juliana Fiori should have considered that evening.

Related Posts: Fragment Friday

Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke’s Heart by Sarah MacLean is the third and final book in her Love by Numbers series. The first two books dealt with twin brothers Nick and Gabriel St John who were both a bit rakish and (at least with Gabriel) seemed to enjoy breaking the rules of society. But of all the members of the St. John clan no one breaks as many rules as Nick and Gabriel’s younger half-sister Juliana Fiori. Although, in her case, all the rule breaking is unintentional…mostly. You see, Juliana was raised in Italy where the rules of conduct are different. She is shipped to England to live with previously unknown brothers on the death of her father and has to quickly learn to navigate in a society that loves rules and has a quick disdain for those that don’t quite fit in. And no one dishes out disdain more than Simon Pearson, Duke of Leighton. Which just means that he and Juliana are going to have one heck of a roller coaster ride to love.

I loved this book. I think its safe to say that Eleven Scandals is my favorite Sarah MacLean book to date. Juliana is such a fun character filled with spunk and strength and I couldn’t get enough of her. Simon could be a total jerk at times with his condensation but I often felt sorry for this fictional man as he was no match for the fiesty Juliana. And before anyone gets on me for spoiling this *IS* a romance novel so of course the two MCs are going to get together in the end. Although I have to admit that even this long time romance reader had her doubts that MacLean would be able to pull these two very strong willed characters together! But she managed to do so in a believable and totally heart achey way that left me a bit breathless from the non-stop push and pull of these two fabulous characters.

Another thing that Sarah MacLean managed to do with her book was to make me gasp aloud. This isn’t something that I do with books. Laugh out loud yes. Yell at books when a character makes me angry (more often then I care to admit) but gasp? I can’t recall the last time that happened. But it did in Eleven Scandals, right around page 159 where something happened that I never expected and so I gasped in pleasant surprise. That same scene was already a fun one as it saw the appearance of a beloved character from MacLean’s YA book The Season and that had made me all giddy. Then you have this bit of shock and….well….it just further shows just what a roller coaster ride this book was.

In the end, Eleven Scandals, was a lot of fun. Juliana is a total fish out of water and I loved her little mistakes in coming up with the right vocabulary when trying to describe something. She was bold and unapologetic and despite her mistakes she was always honest about her self. She wasn’t perfect but she never pretended to be. She simply tried her best and people had to accept her or not for who she was and because of that she makes a great role model for girls of today. Because who doesn’t struggle with identity and tries to fit in? I loved this book and recommend it to all…and I also learned recently that the heroine of Sarah MacLean’s next book actually makes her debut here for those observant enough to catch it. I admit i rushed through my first reading of this book but I think that trying to figure out the heroine of A Rogue by Any Other Name is more than enough reason for a reread of Eleven Scandals…not that I need a reason but it helps in rationalizing why I am ignore the bagillion other books in my house waiting to be read. ūüėČ

irishdarkblue

five-stars
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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Review: Ten Ways to be Adored When Landing a Lord by Sarah MacLean

Posted by Irish in 5 Stars, Adult, Review6 Comments

Review: Ten Ways to be Adored When Landing a Lord by Sarah MacLeanTen Ways to be Adored When Landing a Lord by Sarah MacLean
Series: Love By Numbers, Book 2
Also in this series: Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake, Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke's Heart
Published by Avon on 26 October 2010
Genres: Adult, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, Girls & Women, Health & Daily Living, Historical, Historical Romance, Love & Romance, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues
Pages: 357
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
five-stars
Also by this author: The Season, Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake, Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke's Heart, Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover, The Rogue Not Taken, A Scot in the Dark

Place(s) Traveled to: London, England // Dunscroft, Yorkshire, England (1823)

First Line: It cannot be denied that there is a veritable epidemic spreading among the young ladies of London – a tragic reality that ends in nothing but the very worst possible scenario.

Any regular reader of my blog knows that I am a fan of Sarah Maclean. She is an author who writes really good heartfelt stories. Her heroines aren’t your typical girls. They are usually a bit awkward, bookish and perhaps a bit plumper than what is considered the norm. They are girls that defy the conventions in their own ways in order to blaze their own path. They are girls in which you can see yourself in and become really attached to. But there is something about Isabel Townsend that really sets her apart for me. I think it might have begun in part because of the roof incident (see vlog reading).

This may seem odd to you but roofs hold a special place in my heart and were a big part in my growing up years. You see the house I grew up in had a porch – it wrapped around most of the building and went under all of our second floor windows. Reading books like A Tree Grows in Brooklyn made me long for a place like Francie Nolan’s fire escape. And since I couldn’t convince my parents to move to a place with one I had my roof. Only the roof was FORBIDDEN.

My dad had few rules but they were meant to be followed to a T. We weren’t allowed on the roof. We weren’t allowed in the attic. We weren’t allowed to dig holes in the yard. We aren’t allowed to take things apart (along with a long hard stare at me). There were others to be sure but those were repeated. Often. Probably because they were the ones we broke the most. Especially after The Incident – which involved my brother, a friend, the attic and a hole in the ceiling. After The Incident there were so many talks on not going in the attic that even now in my 30s when my mom sends me to fetch something my first response is ‘but I’m not allowed’ followed by a sigh, a look and an exasperated that was when you were a child. So you can only imagine my glee to find Isabel ON THE ROOF….which she got to by GOING THROUGH THE ATTIC. (Yes I am weird, I know.)

Its not just the roof though, Isabel is such a strong character who bears a HUGE weight on her shoulders. She has relied only on herself for so long that she has forgotten what its like to lean on someone else. This is both good and bad as you can imagine. She is smart and resourceful and also can get so lost in her thoughts sometimes that she doesn’t always see what’s around her. Which is like me in some ways. Her first meeting with Nick St. John….yeah that could so happen to me – well something similar since I don’t live in 1823 England. (Now if only I could find me a Nick too…*wanders off to dreamland*)

As with many romances the plot is pretty standard in that the heroine is poor, about to lose her home, has some secrets and is searching for a solution to all her woes. Our hero, the very swoon worthy Nick, is trying to escape the marriage minded mamas on the ton and so leaps at a chance to escape to the country.¬† Especially after being named London’s most eligible bachelor. (Eep! poor Nick lol) The two meet and the reader is taken on a fun and wonderful journey as you watch them struggle with what you know is gonna happen. Added to the mix are some of the best side characters ever. I ADORE Rock almost as much, if not more than Nick. He is this great and wonderful teddy bear of man with some laugh out loud lines. Rock is such a perfect counter point to Nick you can see why they are friends. Isabel’s house staff also add in some amusement and her younger brother is both endearing and the sort of boy who just makes your heart melt.

As of this posting, I think that Ten Ways to be Adored When Landing a Lord, is my favorite book by Sarah Maclean yet. Which is saying a lot since I LOVE LOVE LOVED The Season! (my review) (Speaking of I STILL want more of that story Sarah! The girls need swoon worthy boys and Freddie needs to meet his Petunia!!) Ten Ways isn’t as naughty as Nine Rules but there was less head jumping and I felt that the story was just a bit tighter. Although I missed the lack of Callie and Gabriel. (I know I know Yorkshire is a long way from London but still…I just want EVERYTHING lol). I really just can’t say enough how much I loved this book. I just couldn’t stop reading it once I had begun. I laughed out loud and would have happily moved into the story if such a thing were possible. Don’t believe me…well here is a wee snippet from the book that is will hopefully tease your appetite a bit:

“Minutes later, Isabel was pressing her ear to the heavy mahogany door of the earl’s study. She could detect the low hum of masculine voices from within, but their words were impossible to understand. She leaned closer, cursing the ancestor who had selected such a sturdy portal. While she appreciated that had in question likely had goings-on that he had not wanted overheard, the choice of two-inch-thick wood showed an obvious lack of foresight when it came to the requirements of future generations.” (Note: Text is taken from the ARC and may not be the same as in the finished version.)

Seriously folks, this is a book that I can gush on at length. I really could. This is the sort of book that I will reread. I don’t do that with many books but I just know that Nick and Isabel will become good friends and a welcome distraction when I am sick or my life is just so chaotic that I can’t focus on anything new. I also want it said that I think that Rock deserves his own novella. I want to know what he was doing when Nick and Isabel were busy on rooftops. So Sarah, please make that happen. pretty please?

Now begins the long wait until the release of the third book in this series, Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke’s Heart which won’t be out until June 2011. *le sigh* Until then I guess I’ll just have to pick up a hard copy of Nine Ways (out 26 Oct) and reread it for any clues to what might happen in Eleven Scandals. Hmm…I might just have to reread Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake as well…..you know….for the clues.

irishdarkblue

five-stars
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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean

Posted by Irish in 4 Stars, Adult, Review2 Comments

Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLeanNine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean
Series: Love By Numbers,
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
Pages: 422
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon|Buy on Audible|Buy on Barnes & Noble|Buy on Book Depository
Goodreads
four-stars
Also by this author: The Season, Ten Ways to be Adored When Landing a Lord, Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke's Heart, Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover, The Rogue Not Taken, A Scot in the Dark

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.

irishdarkblue

four-stars
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