Series: Love by Numbers

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

Posted April 27, 2011 by Holly in Reviews | 4 Comments

Review: Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke’s Heart by Sarah McLeanReviewer: Holly
Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke's Heart by Sarah MacLean
Series: Love by Numbers #3
Also in this series: Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake, Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord
Published by Harper Collins
Publication Date: April 26th 2011
Pages: 384
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-half-stars

She lives for passion.
Bold, impulsive, and a magnet for trouble, Juliana Fiori is no simpering English miss. She refuses to play by society's rules: she speaks her mind, cares nothing for the approval of the ton, and can throw a punch with remarkable accuracy. Her scandalous nature makes her a favorite subject of London's most practiced gossips . . . and precisely the kind of woman The Duke of Leighton wants far far away from him.
He swears by reputation.
Scandal is the last thing Simon Pearson has room for in his well-ordered world. The Duke of Disdain is too focused on keeping his title untainted and his secrets unknown. But when he discovers Juliana hiding in his carriage late one evening—risking everything he holds dear—he swears to teach the reckless beauty a lesson in propriety. She has other plans, however; she wants two weeks to prove that even an unflappable duke is not above passion.

 
I was somewhat disappointed with the 2nd book in this series, Ten Ways to be Adored When Landing a Lord, but this was much more on par with MacLean’s first release, Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake. I really enjoyed it. The characters came across well and the storyline was lively and fun.

Juliana has been feeling like an outcast since she left Italy to live with her brothers in England. The English are so reserved, so passionless. She longs for the day when she can leave and go back to Italy. Except..she can’t quite get over this small attraction she has to Simon Pearson, The Duke of Leighton. She shouldn’t be interested in him, he’s haughty and cold..except when he’s not. She wants to break through that icy exterior to find the heat beneath.

Simon is in a desperate rush to save his family reputation. Thanks to a reckless act by his sister, he must marry as quickly as possible – to someone with unimpeachable character. The frustrating Juliana Fiori is about as far as he can get from propriety. But when she stows-away in his carriage he has a hard time resisting temptation. Especially once she throws down a challenge – daring him to unleash the passion inside him. But Juliana doesn’t understand what’s at stake – passion could ruin his entire family.

Simon and Juliana have been dancing around each other since the first book. It seemed there was more to him than The Duke of Disdain, but he proved us wrong in the second book with his actions toward his sister. I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this novel. While there were times I wanted to kosh him over the head with a chamberpot, I eventually came to love him just as much as Juliana did. The weight of his responsibilities sat very heavily on him, which made him a more likable character.

With Juliana, I was worried she’d be one of the harebrained women who acted first and thought later..but that wasn’t really the case. Yes, she wanted passion, but she wasn’t reckless. And most of the scandals she found herself wrapped up in – or almost scandals – were not of her making. Her attraction to Simon frustrated her, but she wasn’t afraid to confront him about it. I think that’s what I loved best about her..she wasn’t afraid to speak her mind, or tell others what she wanted. Simon might have been a stick-in-the-mud, but Juliana called him on it.

They had chemistry in spades, but as we all know, chemistry isn’t enough. I think MacLean did a good job of showcasing that for us here. Yes, they were attracted to each other, but duty and honor played a large part in their actions. So did friendship and mutual respect. They really came to rely on one another, which was touching.

I’m disappointed that MacLean didn’t tie up all the loose ends. Since this is to be the end of the series I expected everything would be cleared up. Why did she bother to introduce Juliana’s mother into the story if she was going to leave it unresolved?

Despite a few issues, overall this was a fun, sexy read. I found the story engrossing and the characters flawed but lovable.

4.5 out of 5

The series:

Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake
Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord
Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke’s Heart

This book is available from Avon. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

four-half-stars


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

Posted January 13, 2011 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Ten Ways to be Adored When Landing a Lord by Sarah MacLeanReviewer: Holly
Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord by Sarah MacLean
Series: Love by Numbers #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 Harper Collins
Publication Date: October 26th 2010
Pages: 384
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

Since being named “London’s Lord to Land” by a popular ladies’ magazine, Nicholas St. John has been relentlesslypursued by every matrimony-minded female in the ton. So when an opportunity to escape fashionable society presentsitself, he eagerly jumps—only to land in the path of the most determined, damnably delicious woman he’s ever met!
The daughter of a titled wastrel, Lady Isabel Townsend has too many secrets and too little money. Though she is used to taking care of herself quite handily, her father’s recent passing has left Isabel at sea and in need of outside help to protect her young brother’s birthright. The sinfully handsome, eminently eligible Lord Nicholas could be the very salvation she seeks.
But the lady must be wary and not do anything reckless and foolish…like falling madly, passionately in love.

Although this was a good read (I even stayed up late to finish it in one sitting) it wasn’t as well done as her first release, Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake.

Lady Isabel Townsend is at her wits end. Her wastrel of a father has died, leaving nothing behind for her or her brother, the new earl, to live on. The guardian he selected is no where to be found. And she has a house full of women she’s given sanctuary to. Other than marriage, something she flat out refuses to consider, her only available option for keeping everyone fed, clothed and in shelter is to sell the marble statues she inherited from her mother. The collection should bring her enough to start a new life, in a new house, where she, the girls and her brother will be safe and happy. The problem is finding someone who can value the collection while still keeping all her secrets and those of the manor safe.

Nicholas St. John is desperate to get away from London. Ever since a ladies magazine named him on the list of ‘Lords to Land’, he hasn’t had a moments peace from the unmarried ladies and matchmaking mamas. When his friend the Duke of Leighton asks him for help locating his missing sister he agrees just to get out of town. He ends up meeting Lady Isabel and agreeing to look at her statues, mainly because he’s suspicious of her and curious. He’s surprised to find that he truly likes her, however, and it isn’t long before they’re both fighting a strong attraction. But is it real, or is Nicholas just trying to rescue another damsel in distress? And can Isabel let go of her past and learn to trust him?

Isabel was a well rounded character, excepting that her reasons for avoiding marriage, especially her final denial, didn’t ring true to me. Her constant claims that she could take care of herself carried less weight than they should have, since she obviously couldn’t do it alone. In the beginning of the novel I applauded her independence, but as the novel wore on she seemed more stupid than strong.

Nicholas wasn’t quite what I expected based on the previous novel. For someone who wanted to save women, he was rather harsh with Isabel. Though he wasn’t dishonest, his words, and the way he spoke them, hurt. Not only the heroine, but the reader as well. He was a likable character with a strong sense of responsibility, but I thought he lashed out a little too often.

Naturally there was much to like. The secondary characters balanced the story well, especially Isabel’s ‘girls’ and the young earl. The scenes where he and Nicholas bonded were very touching.

My heart broke for Isabel’s plight. The lack of caring shown by her family was appalling, and explained much about her attitude toward marriage. Seeing her and Nicholas come to trust one another was compelling, though somewhat lessened by the actions of both.

Overall a strong read, but not as good as the first.

4 out of 5

The series:
Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake
Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord
Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke’s Heart
This book is available from Avon. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

four-stars


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Review: Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean

Posted April 1, 2010 by Holly in Reviews | 4 Comments

Review: Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLeanReviewer: Holly
Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean
Series: Love by Numbers #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 Harper Collins
Publication Date: March 30th 2010
Pages: 432
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-half-stars

A lady does not smoke cheroot. 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 . . .

 

Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake was such a cute book. I’ve read novels before with a similar storyline – on the shelf heroine wants to break out of her shell and have an adventure, while the erstwhile hero follows about providing her with the source of her much needed adventure/entertainment. I don’t think, however, I’ve read one that was so much fun. I was concerned that Callie would come off as desperate, or do something TSTL, but that didn’t happen.

Callie is tired of never having any adventures. She’s a 28-year-old spinster with a sterling reputation, but she’s tired of lace caps and living in the bounds of propriety. After overhearing her younger sister and her fiance talking about her – and saying some not very flattering things – she makes a list of nine rules she’d like to break; everything from learning to fence to gambling in an actual gaming hell.

The first item on her list is to be kissed. Gabriel St. John, the Marquess of Ralston seems like the perfect candidate. She catches him unawares and asks him for a kiss. Never one to let an opportunity pass, Ralston decides they can help each other. Ralston has just been informed he has a sister who was raised in Italy. He needs someone of impeccable character to help ready her for society. With Callie’s perfect manners and reputation, he can think of no one better suited. In exchange for a kiss, Callie will escort his sister about and help her become ready for society.

Only it doesn’t stop there. Ralston keeps running into Callie in interesting situations, and it isn’t long before he realizes she’s up to no good. He decides to lend himself to her as more than just a first kiss. Yet the more time they spend together the more they realize the attraction between them is stronger than they’d thought. And when that attraction turns into affection, all bets are off….

As Rowena noted in her review, Callie is an excellent heroine. She’s strong, practical and full of life. Her whole life she’s done what society expected of her, and now she decides to find adventure. There were times I laughed out loud at her antics, or held my breath in fear of her being discovered. As I said above, she doesn’t cross that line into stupid behavior. She skirts it on occasion, but she’s mindful of what being caught will do to her reputation. I think I liked that best of all – though she wanted to have a good time, she didn’t want to do it at the cost of her reputation or that of her family.

Ralston was just the right amount of wicked, though I admit to being put off initially by his reputation. I realize it can seem exciting for a man to have such a tarnished reputation – reformed rakes and all that – but I’m kind of over the whole man-whore thing. Still, there were flashes of good in him from the beginning, and though we saw evidence of his rakish ways early on, as the novel progressed I was able to set that aside and enjoy him as Callie did. He was strong and witty, and though he often disapproved of the things Callie wanted to do, he still indulged her.

I also very much enjoyed the family relationships. Callie is close to both her younger sister and older brother. They had a tight family bond that really came through. Even Callie’s awful aunt and mother were endearing in their own way. The relationship between Ralston and his twin brother Nick was also strong and established. Watching the two of them come to know their new sister was hilarious. Julianna is outspoken and sensitive, and neither bother knows what to do with her. Some of the best scenes in the novel were between the siblings; Callie smoking a cheroot with her brother Benedick, Julianna and Ralston fighting over the dance master, etc.

Overall the book was sweet and light with just the right touches of humor and tenderness. I zipped right through it. I’m really anxious to read Nick’s book, Ten Ways to be Adored While Romancing a Lord, which is set to be released sometime this winter.

4.5 out of 5

The series:

Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake
Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord
Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke’s Heart

This book is available from Avon. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

four-half-stars


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