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Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake

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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 miss 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.


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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 miss 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.

30 review for Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake

  1. 4 out of 5

    Eastofoz

    This book has everything single thing I love about romance novels: • a kill me now s.o.b alpha hero (be still my pitter pattering heart :D) • an amazing heroine who is (brace yourself now) **shock** normal • biting humor • great repartee • story focus on h/h 99.9% of the time (a rare breed of book) • originality for something that's been done 36 gazillion times • superb tension building • unpredictability where you’re expecting the predictable (aka bug-eyed scenes) • chilling meanness • sex-a-licio This book has everything single thing I love about romance novels: • a kill me now s.o.b alpha hero (be still my pitter pattering heart :D) • an amazing heroine who is (brace yourself now) **shock** normal • biting humor • great repartee • story focus on h/h 99.9% of the time (a rare breed of book) • originality for something that's been done 36 gazillion times • superb tension building • unpredictability where you’re expecting the predictable (aka bug-eyed scenes) • chilling meanness • sex-a-licious scenes • page turning writing that plastered a smile on my face from start to finito • crying moments that had me actually reaching for the Kleenex box to the point that I’d get mad too because I couldn’t see to read for how watery my eyes were • sigh worthy Cinderella moments (yeah what about it, everybody likes Cinderella and the prince who sweeps her off her feet :p) I love this book! It’s been a while I haven’t had an OMG-crack-open-the-address-book-and-call-all-the-friends-to-tell-them-about-this-gem. It’s such a simple story too. Why can’t more authors do the same?! Here’s the basic story lowdown: Calpurnia Hartwell is an on the shelf spinster who’s been in love with the King of Hotnicity Gabriel, Marquess of Ralston, for a good 10 years. Unrequited love at its finest. Gabe’s a screw society skirt chaser but he has to turn over a new leaf to ensure his half-sister’s success with the ton. He asks Callie to help him out because she’s so upstanding. Callie’s in heaven/hell. The reader is on cloud nine :D This story reminded me of those great romance writers who have a particular talent to put out amazing reads and get on your auto-buy list. There’s some of Lisa Kleypas’ sparkling storytelling and hot sex scenes, some way out of left field steam scenes à la Suzanne Enoch, a very hard to find arrogant but you-can’t-help-falling-in-love-with-him-yourself hero like only Anna Campbell can write (FYI: if you liked Campbell’s Duke of Kylemore you’re going to adore the Marquess of Ralston), biting humor and choice verbal sparring like only Loretta Chase can do and a splash of Julia Quinn’s laugh out loud humor with bittersweet moments of seriousness interspersed throughout the novel. With a dash here and a pinch there of all these authors’ trademarks, Sarah MacLean has made some memorable characters that will leave you with a parched throat because you haven’t swallowed (or blinked for that matter) once in the past 10 minutes you’ve been reading and holding your breath. When you do regain those abilities you’ll be trying to catch your breath as you sing the “OMG” song ;) Both the h/h are brilliantly constructed so you can empathize as well as sympathize with them. Callie isn’t the “diamond of the first water” and she’s not some independent blue stocking either. She’s just a normal woman with normal woman insecurities and desires who’d really like to find love. How many women can’t say the same thing you know. You could just feel her pain while shaking your head and saying “I'm with ya sister”. You just don’t get that kind of depth where the author plucks the heart strings not because of something tragic but because of the everyday stuff. Then there’s Gabriel :D His arrogance and do-it-because-I-said-so attitude really could have made him a close relative of Anna Campbell’s Duke of Kylemore and his cold and calculated aloofness reminded me of Katie MacAlister’s Drake Vireo –two oozer of sex heroes if ever there was one. What’s fabulous about our man Gabe is that he’s soooo arrogant but then he gets all confused and unsure of himself because he screws up big time ---who can’t find a few men like that in everyday life ;D Oh yeah, and this guy’s a whisperer. Good lord he whispers against her lips, her ears, her hair –just gives you the shivers :D As for the other characters, there’s the witchy gossipists of the ton or the well-meaning family member who feels compelled to tell you for the umpteenth time that you basically have no life. You just cringe along with Callie as she goes through all this politely excusing herself to go cry and ask herself ‘why is it always me’ :( To be clear, Callie is no crier for no reason. I hate whiny woe is me heroines and MacLean did a superb job of not turning her into one of those. When she cried you bawled right along with her. It’s very emotional without it being painfully tragic or dramatic. There are also the characters who are so freakin’ mean they rile you up nice and good (lol!) It’s the kind of story that I think everyone can relate to on some level whether you’ve felt like her or know someone who has. When an author can take you away like that, for me they’ve written some mighty fine keeper shelf material. A brief word about the ending: it’s put a cramp in your cheeks beautiful. Of course with that comes the anger because you finished it too fast like an idiot and didn’t savor the read like you should’ve :-o Ah, the good book :) Just one little qualm: seems that the art department at Avon thought they were doing the art design for “The Mediterranean Lover’s Sex Kitten” or something –what the???! That is not Callie or Ralston at all. Whatsamatter with these people? Don’t they think the reader looks at that??! This is the kind of book you’re still reading at 3am with the book light on all the while whispering, “just one more page – geeze I’m almost done the chapter – ok just a few pages of chapter 33”, even when you have to be up by 6am or, even better, when you wake up at 6am and your first thought as you pat around for your glasses is “Where’s that book! I can get in just a few pages before I go to work” suddenly finding yourself with 10 minutes to boot it out of bed but still torn to read :D It sucks you in and glues itself to your fingers. Bad book! (lol!) Very, very, very, very few authors make auto-buy for me after just one book. Well, it would appear that I have found a new one to add to that select group –now, why doesn’t MacLean have a damn backlist already! Pick. Up. This. Book. Today. :D

  2. 5 out of 5

    Karla

    There once was a plain and plumpish blubbery waste of space girl with tons of money called Calpurnia, who never got married even though she had some suitors. We're told she's a pragmatic girl who has dreams of marriage, house, home, and children, but she's turned everyone away because they're not the same as that handsome guy she once talked to for a couple minutes a decade ago about how her quaintly Classical name isn't really cause for eternal shame and contemplated suicide. So in the meantime, There once was a plain and plumpish blubbery waste of space girl with tons of money called Calpurnia, who never got married even though she had some suitors. We're told she's a pragmatic girl who has dreams of marriage, house, home, and children, but she's turned everyone away because they're not the same as that handsome guy she once talked to for a couple minutes a decade ago about how her quaintly Classical name isn't really cause for eternal shame and contemplated suicide. So in the meantime, she's beaten herself up emotionally about how she'll die the same fat and lonely sow she's always been. Occasionally she faps to Homer and his romance of Odysseus and Penelope, but then feels ashamed that a megaton heifer like herself should even entertain such thoughts. Because as she is entirely all-too-aware, pretty babies abort when a plain girl even considers sipping from one of these: But then one day, after she's been reminded by herself and others once too often that she's a dusty loser of the Youth, Beauty and Happiness Game, she decides to Fuck That Shit and makes a list of racy and scandalous stuff to do because who cares what an obese and homely water buffalo like herself does anyway? She's going to pick herself up and fly free, dammit! So one night, drunk on sherry, she arrives at the house of her decade-old object of pathetic pining with the intent of getting a kiss from him. Of course he soon has those Inexplicable Feelings for the hefty cow with the massive milk bags and is Fiercely Protective of her, to his sudden bewilderment and confusion. But now that they're in closer quarters because his Italian half-sister future series heroine needs a Professor Higgins to make her presentable in Society, this most notorious rake in London blah-blah-blah-lame-cliche and Two Ton Annie will discover that what they've been looking for, all along, is each other. I didn't get far. Page 150. Such self-abuse is biblically abhorrent, and I felt lightning starting to crackle around me, so I bailed. But from what I did read, it was every Regency romance cliche packed into one book. (Marriage wager! Making out in a carriage!) I tried to read this because of the raves, but there was absolutely nothing in it that I haven't read in books like this before. There was the ugly duckling heroine who eventually becomes a swan, paired with the bad-ass rake who is really a slightly risque playboy with media savvy. Blah. The heroine was really ridiculous, the heaps of abuse she put on herself and got from others such a blatant attempt by the author to get me behind her. It gets more than a little wearying to read a heroine who has the attitude of when my attitude is If these are the awesome romances of today penned by Ivy League-educated authors, then I'm going to stick with the trashy rapefests of the 70s and 80s by Midwestern housewives, thankee very much.

  3. 5 out of 5

    UniquelyMoi ~ BlithelyBookish

    Updated because.... I've been asked by the lovely Jessie Edwards, one of the fabulous ladies in charge of the Avon Addicts program, to choose my favorite Avon romance. Is she kidding?? She must be joking! Just one??? *sigh* Anyway, to refresh my memory, I reread a few of my old Avon reviews and I've decided to repost this review in hopes that anyone not familiar with the Love by Numbers series will give it a go. Yes, it's that good. So, my favorite Avon romance... Well, there are a few books that i Updated because.... I've been asked by the lovely Jessie Edwards, one of the fabulous ladies in charge of the Avon Addicts program, to choose my favorite Avon romance. Is she kidding?? She must be joking! Just one??? *sigh* Anyway, to refresh my memory, I reread a few of my old Avon reviews and I've decided to repost this review in hopes that anyone not familiar with the Love by Numbers series will give it a go. Yes, it's that good. So, my favorite Avon romance... Well, there are a few books that instantly came to mind - Again the Magic with the physically and emotionally scarred Aline, and John, the man who loved her, by Lisa Kleypas; Whisper Falls starring good girl Tessa who falls for the bad, bad boy, Lucky Romo, by Toni Blake; Flowers from the Storm with Christian, one of the most tormented heroes I've read, and Maddy, the woman who saves him - and he saves her right back, by Laura Kinsale; (review links can be found below) and this one... Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean. Well... I've picked Nine Rules, and here's why... It's because if I could choose to be any heroine from a historical romance, I'd want to be Lady Calpurnia Hartwell, and here's why... I find I’m at a loss for words when trying to describe the wide range of emotions this book evoked in me, except to say that it made me laugh, cry, sigh, gasp, and hope for a happily ever after for the hero and heroine more than I have in any other book I’ve read in a very long time. And, this is the first book in which I’ve found myself more invested in the heroine’s happiness than the hero’s. The prologue had my heart breaking for a young woman’s shattered – albeit it brief – fairytale fantasy, and her so very low self esteem. But that said, this is one of those books that made me wish that I were the heroine. Not just so I could live happily ever after, but for the kind of person she was. I loved her for her goodness, her kindness and compassion. I adored her for her sense of humor, her generosity and her selflessness, but most of all; it was her strength, her courage to live, rather than sit on-the-shelf collecting dust as society dictated that all "self respecting" spinsters should. It’s for all of these reasons that I wish I were Callie. It took me awhile to fall in love with Gabriel St. John, Marquess of Ralston, but it did happen. I mean, how could it not? Take a gander at that step back… again, I ask... How could I not fall for him?? The look on his face speaks volumes as to his passionate nature, his need… his hunger for this unusual woman who was nothing like society expected her to be. She was daring, witty, refined, and intelligent and she’d managed to work her way under his skin, and before he knew what happened, into his heart. His reputation was no secret - he was known by all as a rake and a libertine, so when he became aware of her plan to experience the same kinds of things that gentlemen are allowed to experience, I wasn’t terribly surprised when he offered to facilitate her in her quest to check each item off of her list, whilst risking utter ruination! I’m always impressed by other readers who include quotes in their reviews. Me? I’m too engrossed in the book to make myself stop long enough to make notes, but this book demanded that I do exactly that — twice. This first quote I’ll share is from the prologue and had me sobbing. My ever faithful Goodreads friends, Catherine and Rane, were there to help me through this tear-jerking scene as I posted it on my status update: She pushed aside a devastating pang of sorrow as the truth coursed through her. She would never have the magnificent Marquess of Ralston, nor anyone like him. She felt an acute certainty that the things he had said to her earlier were not the truth but instead the lies of an inveterate seducer carefully chosen to appease her and send her blithely off, easing his dark tryst with his ravishing beauty. He hadn't believed a word of it. No, she was not Calpurnia, Empress of Rome. She was plain old Callie. And she always would be. Seriously, when read in context, with the entire prologue, that was one of those most heartbreaking moments from any book I can recall. Now, the second quote/snippet I have for you is the moment in which I finally became invested in seeing Callie and Gabriel’s happily ever after come to pass, and knowing I could believe in it. (view spoiler)[ This is yet another gut wrenching scene and takes place when Callie finds out about a wager that had been placed between Gabriel and Oxford as to whether or not Oxford would be able to convince Callie to marry him. Of course, this is a romance novel so we, the readers, already know who’s going to end up the winner, but when Callie gets wind of it, she’s humiliated and thinks she’s nothing more than something for men to wager over. Gabriel had proposed to her and she’d accepted, but now, even though the bet was for 2,000£, she suddenly felt so very worthless. So she has demanded that Gabriel stay away from her, and she’s fled the ball where this scene takes place. Oxford, well into his cups, has some unflattering things to say about Callie in front of Gabriel and Benedick, Callie’s brother: “Certainly, the best thing about spinsters is that they’re eager for a toss, but you can’t really mean to tell me you need to resort to one as plain and uninspiring as that one. Although, it did appear she was more than willing to lift her skirts for you…and I suppose that is something.” Benedick stiffened, and fury, hot and quick, coursed through Ralston at the words, so demeaning and unpleasant, directed at the woman he planned to make his wife. Because there was absolutely no question that Callie was going to be his wife. Drunk or no, Oxford would pay for his words. Reaching out, Ralston grabbed Oxford by the lapels of his topcoat and slammed him against the stone wall that marked one edge of the balcony. The force of the blow took the breath out of the baron, and, gasping for air, he slumped to the ground, clutching his chest. Ralston looked down his long, elegant nose at the vile creature at his feet and said, “You just impugned the honor of my future marchioness. Choose your seconds. I will see you at dawn.” Leaving Oxford sputtering on the ground, Ralston spun on one elegant heel to face Benedick. “When I am done with him, I am coming for your sister. And, if you intend to keep me from her, you had better have an army at your side.” (hide spoiler)] So, Gabriel had been slowly working his way into my heart, but it was his actions and his words in defense of Callie that sealed the deal for me. The bottom line – this was my first Sarah MacLean read and it most assuredly will not be my last. I’m anxiously awaiting the October 26th release of the second book in this series, Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord. It’s Gabriel’s brother, Nicholas St. John’s story, and will undoubtedly be every bit as wonderful as this book was. So tell me, what's YOUR favorite AVON romance?? Have you read any of my top 4? If you're interested in reading why I loved the other books so much, here are my reviews: My Review of Again the Magic My Review of Whisper Falls My Review of Flowers from the Storm

  4. 4 out of 5

    Shawna

    Reread/listened to audiobook May'2022 I enjoyed listening to the audiobook version of this 5 star romance. Original rating/review April'2010 5+ stars – Historical Romance What a wonderful, charming, sexy, entertaining, sweet, funny, emotional, steamy, and well-written regency romance with an utterly lovable, quirky, plump, Plain Jane, wallflower, spinster heroine and a sexy-as-sin, tarnished-heart-of-gold rogue hero to die for! Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake is a truly delightful read wit Reread/listened to audiobook May'2022 I enjoyed listening to the audiobook version of this 5 star romance. Original rating/review April'2010 5+ stars – Historical Romance What a wonderful, charming, sexy, entertaining, sweet, funny, emotional, steamy, and well-written regency romance with an utterly lovable, quirky, plump, Plain Jane, wallflower, spinster heroine and a sexy-as-sin, tarnished-heart-of-gold rogue hero to die for! Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake is a truly delightful read with everything I love in a historical romance: an engaging story, witty dialogue, humor, drama, emotion, smokin’ hot love scenes, an endearing heroine, and a deliciously sexy rake hero reformed by love. Sarah MacLean has earned a place on my author auto-buy list, and I can’t wait for Nick’s story, Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord, to come out! Big 5 stars!

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    OMG I LOVED THIS SO MUCH. ugh. The romance. Was so cute. I really loved the premise how Callie made this list she wanted to do because she was a spinster and was tired of not living her life. It was fun watching her try to achieve her list and how Ralston is always roped into her antics. Their romance was just so adorable. I also loved how close Callie was with both her sister and her brother. I just couldn't get enough of this book and highly recommend it! OMG I LOVED THIS SO MUCH. ugh. The romance. Was so cute. I really loved the premise how Callie made this list she wanted to do because she was a spinster and was tired of not living her life. It was fun watching her try to achieve her list and how Ralston is always roped into her antics. Their romance was just so adorable. I also loved how close Callie was with both her sister and her brother. I just couldn't get enough of this book and highly recommend it!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Nalini Singh

    I loved the "on the shelf" heroine who decides to do all the things ladies aren't supposed to do (smoke a cheroot, gamble, attend a duel...), and the scandalous hero who gets caught up in her rule-breaking (until he actually helps her do some of the things on her list). Totally recommended! I loved the "on the shelf" heroine who decides to do all the things ladies aren't supposed to do (smoke a cheroot, gamble, attend a duel...), and the scandalous hero who gets caught up in her rule-breaking (until he actually helps her do some of the things on her list). Totally recommended!

  7. 4 out of 5

    chan ☆

    parts of this were really sweet and swoony but ultimately the hero and heroine brought the story down a star or two

  8. 4 out of 5

    Danielle The Book Huntress

    I enjoyed this book a lot. It was rich with depth and with characters that I was interested in reading about. Callie was tired of being trapped by society's expectations, and the box she'd been put into, and decided to claim some happiness for herself. I liked that Gabriel liked her for who she was. He was drawn to her, even though she didn't fit society's ideas of beauty. She became the one woman he couldn't resist, and it wasn't hard for me to believe that was the case as I read this story. I I enjoyed this book a lot. It was rich with depth and with characters that I was interested in reading about. Callie was tired of being trapped by society's expectations, and the box she'd been put into, and decided to claim some happiness for herself. I liked that Gabriel liked her for who she was. He was drawn to her, even though she didn't fit society's ideas of beauty. She became the one woman he couldn't resist, and it wasn't hard for me to believe that was the case as I read this story. I think Ms. MacLean did a great job of writing this novel, that was recognizably full of honest and real emotions. Normally, I don't care for the Regency hoyden, who gallivants around town doing things that women just didn't do. But, this book wasn't quite like that. Callie was a woman of her times. But, she was a woman who was trying to claim some happiness for herself. She never felt anachronistic in her morals. She was just tired of trying to live up to others' expectations. So, despite this being a theme I'm far from fond of, I wasn't bothered by Callie's hijinks. I really liked and felt for Callie. Some readers complained about it constantly being repeated that she was plain and plump. I didn't really see that. I think that it was mentioned as much as necessary, especially considering that's the box that Callie had been put into. I felt for her, seeing how insensitive people were in their treatment of her. It felt authentic. Women are often treated in such a fashion, when they don't fit into the mode that society defines for them. If you're not married, don't have a man, or a boyfriend, then what's wrong with you? You must be flawed somehow. You have no purpose in life. Sadly, that's still the case. This was a very sexy book. There are some pretty spicy scenes, and they are quite well-done. The chemistry between Gabriel and Callie felt authentic. I could see why they were attracted to each other, and why they fell for each other. Those love scenes really kept me on the edge as I read. I liked Gabriel a lot. Although he was a rake, he showed himself to be fairly admirable in his behavior. There were some lines that he knew he shouldn't be crossing with Callie, but the way this book was written, you could see that he couldn't resist his feelings for Callie. I didn't find Gabriel especially tortured. But, I don't guess all heroes have to be. He did have some baggage with his mother running off and leaving him, and you could see how that affected him, making him afraid to give his heart to a woman. But, with Callie, it was natural for him. He couldn't hold that back from her. I liked Nick, Benedick, and Juliana a lot. I hope that Ms. McLean writes stories for them as well. Reading Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake was a very pleasant experience. It wasn't a particularly dark romance (which is my favorite), but it was nuanced and had an intensity between Callie and Gabriel that made it a fairly compelling read. I think Ms. MacLean is a very good writer, and it's clear she makes an effort to write a high quality historical romance that manages to entertain but also has an underlying message. She treats important elements of historical romance with respect, but writes a story that is fun, sensual, and engaging, and she earned my respect for doing so. She's definitely going on my to-read list.

  9. 5 out of 5

    EmBibliophile [hiatus]

    4.25 stars Not only am I a shallow person who sometimes picks books because of their lovely covers, but I’m also a shallow person who picks books because of their fun titles. I saw the book titles of this series and I was sold! Aren’t they fun? Callie doesn’t like the way her life turned out. She’s tired of being a spinster and she is longing for an adventure, so she made a list of scandalous things to do which is completely inappropriate for a lady. This book got me laughing out loud. It’s so fun 4.25 stars Not only am I a shallow person who sometimes picks books because of their lovely covers, but I’m also a shallow person who picks books because of their fun titles. I saw the book titles of this series and I was sold! Aren’t they fun? Callie doesn’t like the way her life turned out. She’s tired of being a spinster and she is longing for an adventure, so she made a list of scandalous things to do which is completely inappropriate for a lady. This book got me laughing out loud. It’s so fun and so cute. I couldn’t stop smiling the whole time I was reading it. It’s ridiculous! It was so fun watching the heroine trying to complete her list and how each item put her in an awkward situation with the hero. I loved her relationship with her sister and brother and how close she was to them. And the romance was just so cute!! Read this book! it’s gonna make your day!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Vinaya

    Nine Rules to Follow When Writing a (Regency) Romance: 1. Read Georgette Heyer: This one is self-evident. (If it's not, read this) 2. Spinster on the shelf: Make sure your heroine is never the belle of the ball. Young, vibrant beautiful ladies are, of course, infinitely less interesting than pale, passive, middle-aged women who somehow mysteriously retain the fresh bloom of youth and the ability to attract rich, handsome men who are being desperately pursued by 17 and 18-year olds. Right. 3. The ha Nine Rules to Follow When Writing a (Regency) Romance: 1. Read Georgette Heyer: This one is self-evident. (If it's not, read this) 2. Spinster on the shelf: Make sure your heroine is never the belle of the ball. Young, vibrant beautiful ladies are, of course, infinitely less interesting than pale, passive, middle-aged women who somehow mysteriously retain the fresh bloom of youth and the ability to attract rich, handsome men who are being desperately pursued by 17 and 18-year olds. Right. 3. The handsome, titled rake: Your hero cannot be a man of moderate tastes and self-control. Where's the fun in that? Be sure to create a handsome, irresistible man-whore who has bedded hundreds of women and is, in all probability suffering from a severe case of syphilis. But the title, of course, will subsidise a multitude of sins. Quel amour! 4. Using Cant: You have to gammon your readers with some fustian about a bluestocking who turns into a diamond of the first water and sets her cap at a Corinthian, resulting in some cork-brained adventures. (But it's still okay to use apologize instead of apologise, realize instead of realise, and so on... we're sure the Americans learnt these (mis)spellings from the Brits!) 5. Hoyden-ish behaviour: Despite being brought up in a society renowned for the rigidity of its rules and mores, make sure your heroine almost never wears a corset, rides astride, wears men's clothes, freely uses swear words such as 'damn' and somehow still fails to incur the attention or wrath of society. 6. A makeover: The spinster on the shelf must always get an opportunity to re-invent herself and dazzle all comers. For this purpose, you will need 1) a French modiste 2) a stunning gown 3) feminine lingerie 4) a devoted abigail with magic hands and 5) a beautiful face and lush figure that have so far been hidden under dowdy clothes for some unknown reason. 7. A Special Ball: If it didn't happen in a ballroom, it ain't worth talking about! All major scenes, but ESPECIALLY the makeover, must be accompanied by a ball. Preferably the Season's biggest one. Said ball must be rife with passion, drama and, of course, the waltz. (Who gives a shit about the quadrilles and the country dances, bring on the cabaret waltz!) 8. The Big Misunderstanding: The path of true love is never smooth. Huh, what did you think this was, real life? Can't have no Happily Ever After without the Big Misunderstanding. Generally, the BM involves a wager of some sort. What else do these gambling rakes have to do apart from waste their blunt wagering on their women? Alternatively, it could involve abduction by the evil dandy, but it's more fun to see the hero and heroine make an ass of themselves. (No, not arse, darling, ASS!) 9. And last, but most importantly, EXHIBITIONIST SEX: For some reason, it appears almost mandatory in Regency romances for the hero and heroine to have sex or almost-sex in places where it would be easy for other members of the public to walk in on them. Like an unlocked fencing room in a men's club. Or a garden adjoining a ballroom. Or an alcove in a museum. Or, of course, the ubiquitous carriage. It's like nobody in Regency England's ever heard of a bed! Also, Regency romances are the perfect illustration of Big Stick in Little Hole syndrome, since the heroine is always a virgin, the man is always well-hung and yet the first time they have sex is magical, with only some minor, fast-vanishing pain. Obviously practice makes perfect doesn't apply to Regency sex. Epilogue: I actually liked this book; it was funny in parts, did not read like bad Georgette Heyer fan fiction, and even the sex scene was a little goose-bump-inducing... the first time. After that, well, jeez, I know how it's done, skip it already! There was a big discussion going on over at Jillian's review about the actual romance quotient of graphic sex scenes, so I'm not going to get on that soapbox here. I've had a love-hate relationship with historical romances for a while now, but I'm pleased to report that Nine Rules falls on the like side of the scale; if you're a fan of historical romances, I would recommend you put this on the top of your list!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sarah MacLean

    once again, don't take my word for it. ;) once again, don't take my word for it. ;)

  12. 4 out of 5

    MelissaB

    Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake was an utterly charming and wonderful read! I was very impressed with the story and the characters. I loved the heroine, I really felt emotionally connected to her and wanted her to get the love and life she longed for with the handsome rogue hero. Lady Calpernia Hartwell is an on the shelf spinster at 28 years old. She believes herself plain and thinks her opportunity to have a husband and children is over. Seeing her young sister fall in love brings Cal Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake was an utterly charming and wonderful read! I was very impressed with the story and the characters. I loved the heroine, I really felt emotionally connected to her and wanted her to get the love and life she longed for with the handsome rogue hero. Lady Calpernia Hartwell is an on the shelf spinster at 28 years old. She believes herself plain and thinks her opportunity to have a husband and children is over. Seeing her young sister fall in love brings Callie to the realization that she wants more out of life that sitting in the spinster section of the ballroom. She makes a list of nine daring things she wants to try because they are forbidden things that only men do or will cause her ruination. But she figures what's the point of a perfect reputation when she will never be married, so she impulsively heads out to complete the first thing on the list - a kiss. Callie goes to Gabriel St. John, the Marquess of Ralston because she has secretly been infatuated with him for years. Gabriel is quite surprised to see the proper Callie appear in his bed chamber one night. She reluctantly asks him for a kiss which he agrees to for a price - he needs a respectable sponsor like her to help introduce his newly found half-sister into society. So begins the relationship between Gabriel and Callie as she helps prepare his sister to enter society. Callie is still working on her list so she is always landing on situations where Gabriel needs to help save her reputation. He is intrigued by this new daring and passionate side to Callie and decides to help her with her list. Callie finds herself falling more for Gabriel as she gets to know him but she knows he will never fall for a plain wallflower like her. This was a very romantic and wonderful story! I loved the charming story and characters. The writing pulled me into the story and kept me on the edge of my seat as I watched Callie spread her wings and find the life and love she wanted, while Gabriel fell harder for Callie every time they were together. The sexual tension was very hot! The love scenes were sexy too. I enjoyed this book very much and would highly recommend it to historical romance fans looking for a great romance!

  13. 5 out of 5

    D.G.

    First of all, please know that I’m picky. For a romance to grab me, it has to have a compelling plot, interesting characters and internal consistency. This last quality is what I called when the elements of the story come together to form a cohesive whole. If one of those elements is missing, I start having problems with the book. Nine Rules has a compelling central plot – a wallflower who decides to eschew convention and her reputation to do things she always wanted to do because she wants to li First of all, please know that I’m picky. For a romance to grab me, it has to have a compelling plot, interesting characters and internal consistency. This last quality is what I called when the elements of the story come together to form a cohesive whole. If one of those elements is missing, I start having problems with the book. Nine Rules has a compelling central plot – a wallflower who decides to eschew convention and her reputation to do things she always wanted to do because she wants to live instead of merely existing. Those nine things have nothing to do with ‘romancing a rake’ so the title is a total misnomer. After a promising beginning when the heroine realizes she wants to be passive no more, the book becomes very predictable and it falters in the other two areas (characters and consistency.) The characters are likeable but they are cookie cutter historical romance, people you’ve seen over and over in similar stories: the plain but voluptuous wallflower, the rake, the fortune hunter, the badly dressed Mama, the gorgeous mistress, a couple of beautiful and lively sisters (one of the hero’s, one the heroine’s), etc. The characters spew historical romance clichés one after the other so it’s no wonder I had trouble differentiating from others of their ilk: Hero: I’ve never met a woman like her before! Heroine: It won’t fit! Worse, the book has lapses in logic that defy the imagination – the heroine is described as voluptuous but is able to pass as a man by binding her breasts with scraps of linen (!?!) After doing the deed, the ‘smart’ heroine doesn’t worry for a second about the possibility of being pregnant and when the hero brings it up, she tells the hero that the risk is small (what the heck does she know?) There’s never a cohesive explanation as to why she’s a wallflower – she’s rich, titled, engaging and generously endowed so she has a few things going on for her…it amazed me that no man seemed interested in a fortune attached to a pair of large breasts. All in all, this is not the worst historical romance book I’ve read but I expect to forget everything about it in the next few weeks.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Baba

    FULL REVIEW NOW POSTED "I love you. I love your extravagant name and your beautiful face and your brilliant mind and your ridiculous list and your taste for adventure, which I imagine is very likely going to be the actual cause (view spoiler)[of my death. And I very much wanted to be able to tell you all that before you were shot in a field." (hide spoiler)] Even though the plot is very predictable, I really enjoyed Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake. It's another winner and delightfull FULL REVIEW NOW POSTED "I love you. I love your extravagant name and your beautiful face and your brilliant mind and your ridiculous list and your taste for adventure, which I imagine is very likely going to be the actual cause (view spoiler)[of my death. And I very much wanted to be able to tell you all that before you were shot in a field." (hide spoiler)] Even though the plot is very predictable, I really enjoyed Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake. It's another winner and delightfully penned by the very talented Ms. MacLean. London, England April 1823 Gabriel St. John, Marquess of Ralston and a rake of the highest caliber, is in for a surprise. His brother Nick is telling him that they have a sister. A half sister, as it is. Since her father is of common birth, the ton won't accept Juliana easily. Ralston needs someone with an impeccable character to introduce his half sister into society. Well, Gabriel found someone. Lady Calpurnia (Callie) Hartwell, proper and well-behaved spinster. She is twenty-eight years old and she has the most pristine reputation of any member of the ton. However, that is about to change. Callie doesn't want to be passive and plain and unadventurous anymore. Therefore, she creates the infamous list… Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake 1. Kiss someone--passionately 2. Smoke cheroot and drink scotch 3. Ride astride 4. Fence 5. Attend a duel 6. Fire a pistol 7. Gamble (at a gentleman's club) 8. Dance every dance at a ball 9. Be considered beautiful. Just once. Yes, Callie, you're in for a surprise. Your wishes shall be fulfilled… In a whisper, she announced, "I came to ask you to kiss me." Ralston will kiss her. For a price. And the story takes it from there. As expected I loved the dialogue. It's witty and very entertaining. Further, I appreciated the fact that Ms. Maclean portrayed another average-looking heroine. Again, beauty lies in the eye of the beholder and I loved to see our hero falling for Callie. And he fell very hard eventually. Throughout the story, Ralston's feelings changed and he really saw her as beautiful. He realized that there was nothing about her that was plain or unassuming. Ultimately, Ralston was the man to let her loose from her cage. Despite my issues with Gabriel, I have to admit that he was very sexy. His tempting words and his deep and sensual voice sealed the deal for me. Some wicked glances, some hot kissing and touching and somehow I fell for him too. The love scenes are deliciously well-written--very sensual and passionate. What didn't work for me The conflicts (view spoiler)[the wager was extremely predictable (hide spoiler)] and the plot were too predictable--just too convenient for my liking. I would have loved to see more and better relationship development as well. Further, Ralston is very reluctant to accept his feelings resp. his love for Callie, and after some time I felt kinda worn out. After completing her list, Callie seems to be in dire need to create another one. It is very short though. "My new list only has one item." "That sounds like a very dangerous list." "Oh, it is," she agreed happily. "It's very dangerous. Particularly to your reputation." Now he was curious. "What is the item?" "To reform a rake."(...)"Done."

  15. 5 out of 5

    Hulya Kara Yuksel

    I absolutely adored this book. It was quite sensational. 😜😜😜 @Seda: My dear friend, thank you so much for recommending this book to me. I cannot wait to read the other books in this series. Probably very soon. 😋 I absolutely adored this book. It was quite sensational. 😜😜😜 @Seda: My dear friend, thank you so much for recommending this book to me. I cannot wait to read the other books in this series. Probably very soon. 😋

  16. 5 out of 5

    Blacky *Romance Addict*

    This was absolutely enchanting, lovely, witty, funny, emotional, and a billion similar epithets :) I really loved it <3 The style of writing is great, much to my liking, the dialogue is witty and funny, and the characters believable and loveable <3 I only wish Sarah MacLean had more books so I could enjoy her writing some more :) The first chapter had me giggling and squealing all over hahah Callie is trying to hide in the bushes during a ball because her mother forced her to wear the ugliest dres This was absolutely enchanting, lovely, witty, funny, emotional, and a billion similar epithets :) I really loved it <3 The style of writing is great, much to my liking, the dialogue is witty and funny, and the characters believable and loveable <3 I only wish Sarah MacLean had more books so I could enjoy her writing some more :) The first chapter had me giggling and squealing all over hahah Callie is trying to hide in the bushes during a ball because her mother forced her to wear the ugliest dress ever made in mankind XD and of course there she meets Ralston <3 It was lovely and funny :) The second chapter is 10 years after that (yes, 10!!). Callie is dissapointed in life, watching her younger sister get engaged, while she remains a spinster (oh that is such a dreadful word). Anyway, one night she decides to live her life, be free and do what she would like to do if she were not confined by society and the fact that she is a woman. So she goes to Ralston to do the first thing on her list - get kissed, passionately. And so it begins <3 I just loved them, such a great couple, she did not dissolve into tears on every little thing, even that one time when I really though should do it, she was strong and got in his face hehehehe he deserved it XD Gabriel was *sigh* so lovely, their chemistry was incredible, every conversation filled with tension, and he's so freaking good at creating it <3 no wonder she went musshy all the time near him looool A great book, and I highly recommend it for all the lovers of historicals, it is very well written :) Can't wait for Nick's story <3 <3 <3

  17. 5 out of 5

    Emilia Barnes

    Welcome to one of the worst historical romances (not-at-all-historically-accurate-barely-disguised-porn-books) I have ever read. Welcome to the land of cliches, to the Kingdom of the One Dimension, the Empire of Clumsy World-building. This nirvana of terribleness is somehow a well-regarded, best-selling novel. Do you want some of Sarah Maclean's success? Well, it shouldn't be too hard. If you know nothing about history, can barely put a sentence together and don't feel like writing well-rounded Welcome to one of the worst historical romances (not-at-all-historically-accurate-barely-disguised-porn-books) I have ever read. Welcome to the land of cliches, to the Kingdom of the One Dimension, the Empire of Clumsy World-building. This nirvana of terribleness is somehow a well-regarded, best-selling novel. Do you want some of Sarah Maclean's success? Well, it shouldn't be too hard. If you know nothing about history, can barely put a sentence together and don't feel like writing well-rounded characters you're pretty much half-way there. Here's the recipe for a popular hist-rom novel for the 21st century, or what I like to call 5 Writing Rules to Break to A Million Dollars Make. Rule Number 1 Consistency Or The Schrödinger's Plain Regency Heroine Is she fat and plain? Is she voluptuous and beautiful? The author wants your sympathy, but also wants her heroine plausibly desirable to an extremely horny rake, so this is where the Schrödinger's Regency heroine comes in. She is both trollishly hideous, so no man wants her and she is desperate to be kissed, and at the same time also Jessica Rabbit levels of hot, so that a man who can have any poontang he wants (and does have it) cannot keep his breeches buttoned in her presence. The trick here is to write her as if you were completely unaware that language has any meaning at all, and therefore you can and should claim she is both a deformed ogre and a luscious babe liberally all over the place. Be bold! You've got this! Rule Number 2 Good World Building Or Regency World Schmegency World Who needs rules and consistency? Not you, that's who! This technique is called "Not Giving a Shit" and it goes like so: In the title of this novel, the author introduces you to the idea of rules, which the heroine wishes to break. The title is supposed to hint at something illicit and forbidden and therefore exciting. And I know what you're thinking. Rules work on the basis of consequences, so if you get caught something bad should happen, right? And it should be difficult to get away with it, so there's a sense of danger, which makes the getting away with it as exciting as the title promises. Right? Well, no, because how are you going to churn out fifty of these suckers a year if you are going to bother about these little technicalities? Look, if you want to be serious about this business, you have to focus on what's important. Emilia, I hear you say, we can't just have no consequences whatsoever in this novel. People are going to call our bullshit. No, I tell you, they certainly won't. Trust me. You know how in Regency England men went about in really tight pantaloons and waistcoats? And you know how I said previously that our heroine is full-figured? And do you know what one of the rules she wants to break is? That's right, she wants to go into a gentleman's club, and so does go there, dressed as a gentleman. Don't worry, this world is full of morons, nobody spots her, she manages to have sex in that club and it's a-okay. Because this is a world full of imbeciles. And that is also, by the way, what the author clearly thinks her readers are. Rule Number 3 No False Advertising Or Rake Schmake Next, make sure you’ve got the word “rake” in the title. Oh, you're worried nobody is going to buy a novel about a rake, because rakes went around whoring and gambling and acquiring debts and STDs and who wants that? That's not sexy, right? But I'll let you in on a little open secret in the industry. When a book has "rake" in the title, it's sort of like when supermarkets tell you that something costs £49.99 so your brain doesn't think you're about to spend £50 on some nonsense you don't even need. In short, it's a cheap fucking trick. Always remember: words mean nothing. Rule Number 4 Clear Genre Descriptor Or Romance or Porn? You’re worried that to write a good romance requires hours of work to create two characters who are compatible and who spark on the page, and credible conflicts which they must overcome and which the reader will find delightful to read, so that by the end they- Nah, stop it, you nerd. Just stuff your novel with endless, anachronistic sex. Look at this little gem of a novel. There's a time and place for everything except for the protagonists of this here little porno for whom the time is always and the place is everywhere. Carriages, gentlemen’s clubs, any room in any house they happen to have a conversation in… Did you know that in Regency England you could be a respectable unmarried young woman who has sex in a gentleman's club and then go about the world as if nothing happened? No? Well, that is why you have not yet reached Sarah MacLean levels of book-selling success. But don't worry, we'll get you there. Rule Number 5 Stick the Landing Or The I Love You Paradox So you're nearing the end of your novel. You have disregarded history and logic and linguistics. Your brain is tired and you have no plot and no characters and somehow you have to end things with a bang. I know, this is the tricky part, but bear with me. You see, you're not the only one. If you break all these writing rules it is absolutely inevitable that you will end up at this point, where you have nothing to build conflict out of and therefore nothing to create a satisfying resolution with. So romance writers of the world have come up with this neat little thing, where they go ahead and pretend that the heroine thinks the hero doesn't really love her. See where this is going? It's literally the ending of 99% of all romance novels and it never gets old. So the heroine, who has been content spreading her legs for the hero pretty much everywhere and all the time, gets a proposal of marriage from him, right, and she says no! And then, when the hero goes mad with grief and heartbreak, you write some ten or so pages of them chewing their nails and drinking and brooding and fighting with whatever side-character-like props you have erected to hint at your next novel, before they agree that they do love each other, and there you go, you're done.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Auntee

    I loved this book! Loved it! For the last few years I've drifted away from reading historicals, but with all the rave reviews regarding this book I thought I had to take the plunge and see what all the fuss was about. And all those glowing reviews are not wrong, IMO--this was one delicious read! I absolutely adored the heroine in this book--and I'm not one who usually falls for the heroine. But there was something so real, likable and relatable about the character of Lady Calpurnia "Callie' Hartw I loved this book! Loved it! For the last few years I've drifted away from reading historicals, but with all the rave reviews regarding this book I thought I had to take the plunge and see what all the fuss was about. And all those glowing reviews are not wrong, IMO--this was one delicious read! I absolutely adored the heroine in this book--and I'm not one who usually falls for the heroine. But there was something so real, likable and relatable about the character of Lady Calpurnia "Callie' Hartwell, the 28 year old plain, bland, slightly plump, passive, play-by-the-rules spinster. When Callie realized she was tired of being thought of as 'passive' and decided to be more adventurous in her life (to the extreme, at times) and break some rules, that's when the book became un-put-down-able. Her nine rules that she wanted to break started out with "kiss someone--passionately". And she knew just who she wanted to kiss--the man who had been on her mind for the past 10 years, the man she'd longed for, renowned rake Gabriel St. John, the Marquess of Ralston. Oh my...Ralston...or Gabriel--however Callie thought of him, he was quite the hero. Wickedly charming, devastatingly handsome, seductive, experienced, adventurous, funny, rule breaking--and so, out of Callie's league (or so she thinks). And determined not to fall in love--ever. I loved how he called Callie "Empress" and "lovely" I loved, loved, loved these two as a couple. They had such a spark whenever they were together--their scenes, their dialogue...it was awesome. After Callie broke her first rule with Ralston (such chemistry they had!), she knew he was the one she wanted to break all the rules with! And the rules Callie wanted to break! Or I should say the adventures she wanted to have-- *Kiss someone--passionately (the start of something big for Callie and Gabriel) *Smoke a cheroot and drink scotch (funny) *Ride astride (turned out to be quite sexy) *Fence (funny...then passionate) *Attend a duel (suspenseful and near tragic) *Fire a pistol (humorous) *Gamble at a gentleman's club (hot, hot, hot) *Dance every dance at a ball (Callie comes into her own) *Be considered beautiful--just once. (you've always been beautiful, Callie) I don't want to give away too much of the plot, except to say that Callie (with Gabriel's help) goes about breaking some rules and having some daring adventures, falls for Gabriel and wishes that he could love her as much as she loves him, but something in his past stands in his way. And Callie's opinion of herself causes her not to hope for the impossible. But seeing the impossible slowly become possible is what made this book so enjoyable. I was thoroughly engaged in this story, was dying for Callie to get all that she longed for, and was hoping that Gabriel wouldn't inadvertently hurt Callie and dash all her dreams. The chemistry between Callie and Gabriel was off the charts--and not just the sexual chemistry. These two were so good together--I felt like they each 'got' the other one--they completed each other. And yes, the love scenes were quite hot for a non-erotica. There's plenty of foreplay, but only a few actual sex scenes. Which was perfectly fine--this book was so wonderfully written, the characters so alive, that it didn't need a whole lot of sex scenes to sell the story. I totally believed in Callie and Gabriel's romance, and the big payoff was worth the wait. Spicy hot and passionate. I also enjoyed the supporting characters in this book. Callie's younger, more beautiful sister Mari, her older brother Benedick; Gabriel's twin brother Nick and his 'just discovered' sister Julianna (who Callie was 'tutoring' for her debut into society)--all these characters who interacted with Callie and Gabriel helped to make it a fuller, richer story. This book made me smile, it made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me sigh. It brought out all the emotions. And when a book can do that for me, it's a winner. What a wonderful job Sarah MacLean did--I did not want this story to end. I hope that we see a lot more of Callie and Gabriel (they may be my favorite couple this year) in the next book, Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord. That's one historical that will be an auto-buy for me! 5 stars

  19. 5 out of 5

    Felicia

    Sometimes you just NEED a book like this, and I was definitely in the mood for some mind candy of the genre! Doesn't really re-invent the historical-romance wheel, but has a sweet sensibility about it that doesn't make you feel skeevy when you're reading REALLY naughty bits (which this one does very well!) Typical wallflower/rake setup, I just really enjoyed the style of writing, it was easy and breezy and made me keep reading even when I wanted to slap the heroine upside the head a few times fo Sometimes you just NEED a book like this, and I was definitely in the mood for some mind candy of the genre! Doesn't really re-invent the historical-romance wheel, but has a sweet sensibility about it that doesn't make you feel skeevy when you're reading REALLY naughty bits (which this one does very well!) Typical wallflower/rake setup, I just really enjoyed the style of writing, it was easy and breezy and made me keep reading even when I wanted to slap the heroine upside the head a few times for her self-esteem issues. The hero was totally yummy, and that gets me through. There was nothing dark or nasty about his rakedom, there was actually something sweet about it. Eloisa James is my total kryptonite in this area, so the fact she front blurbed it really sold me, and I'm glad I did! I think this is a first novel, so I'll definitely be picking up the next by the author!

  20. 5 out of 5

    mwana

    This book was very meh. It started out promisingly. A young wallflower, Callie, stumbles into a dashing rogue who makes her feel daring although briefly. Fast forward ten years later, she ends up bored at a ball and sneaks off to hide in her brother's man cave. Or whatever the equivalent of a man cave is in regency romance. Her brother tempts her to take scotch and she decides nah, too much too soon. While leaving, she accidentally eavesdrops on her younger sister and the new husband-to-be who ar This book was very meh. It started out promisingly. A young wallflower, Callie, stumbles into a dashing rogue who makes her feel daring although briefly. Fast forward ten years later, she ends up bored at a ball and sneaks off to hide in her brother's man cave. Or whatever the equivalent of a man cave is in regency romance. Her brother tempts her to take scotch and she decides nah, too much too soon. While leaving, she accidentally eavesdrops on her younger sister and the new husband-to-be who are discussing her miserable spinster situation. The oblivious brother-in-law calls her passive and all those years of boredom and being overlooked overwhelm our dear sweet MC. She then writes down 9 rules she will have to break so as to feel adventurous and whatnot. The things were a boring combination of what ladies shouldn't do and what men take for granted. Like gamblling and riding a horse astride. It was all just so tedious. Callie would be in one part defiant and in the next spineless. Sometimes it felt exhausting rooting for her. Her mother was presented to be some kind of obstacle but that challenge is never really faced. In some instances, it's like they forgot the existence of the list. The story grew even more disappointing when it trickled down to romance tropes. Callie got some kind of spiritual makeover when she finaly realised that yeah she's the gorgeous woman she never thought she was; Callie is a reactive flushing wanton virgin who makes the rake believe in love again; the eventual chaotic conflict that makes the main couple break up and they get back together due to either nosy or well-meaning friends orchestrating events to getting them together. While I wasn't looking for anything groundbreaking, I wasn't entertained enough to make up for it.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mo

    Enjoyed this one. I do love the books where these Rakes suddenly find themselves "in love". Something they promised they would never do!! I liked that Callie was normal. She wasn't super slim. She wasn't overtly beautiful. She was normal. “Love isn't one-sided and selfish. It is full and generous and life-altering in the best of ways. Love does not destroy, Gabriel.It creates.” It was a terrifying feeling. And if it was love, he wanted none of it.” Enjoyed this one. I do love the books where these Rakes suddenly find themselves "in love". Something they promised they would never do!! I liked that Callie was normal. She wasn't super slim. She wasn't overtly beautiful. She was normal. “Love isn't one-sided and selfish. It is full and generous and life-altering in the best of ways. Love does not destroy, Gabriel.It creates.” It was a terrifying feeling. And if it was love, he wanted none of it.”

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ingie

    Written March 12, 2015 4 1/2 Stars - Simply Splendid! A very well done audio edition of a lovely historical Just my second HR by Sarah MacLean but I have a good feeling. Everything I want in a good 'Regency'... I have a weak heart for those wonderful spinster romances with older heroines. Yeah, I'm not kidding they touch my heart every time. A fantastic 13 hrs audiobook narrated in the very best way by Carolyn Morris. Highly recommended! ****************************************** Written March 12, 2015 4 1/2 Stars - Simply Splendid! A very well done audio edition of a lovely historical Just my second HR by Sarah MacLean but I have a good feeling. Everything I want in a good 'Regency'... I have a weak heart for those wonderful spinster romances with older heroines. Yeah, I'm not kidding they touch my heart every time. A fantastic 13 hrs audiobook narrated in the very best way by Carolyn Morris. Highly recommended! *********************************************************** London 1823 Lady Calpurnia Hartwell is the 27 years old spinster sister who always has followed the rules. She is still unmarried without any more hopes for a husband. When her ten years younger sister is celebrating her engagement is Callie reaching a point. She makes a wicked un-lady like 'wish and must do' list. To dance every dance, to be kissed at midnight she need a willing partner. Someone who knows everything about rule-breaking. Someone like the wicked dangerous, Gabriel St. John, the Marquess of Ralston, a well known charming rake. “Kisses should not leave you satisfied. They should leave you wanting.” Is there anything more beautiful and hopeful than when the abadoned woman in the corner, a genuine overlooked 'old' wallflower, at last gets attention? It is like a heartbreaking romantic romances dream. One day she, the plain girl, gets the honor of dancing the waltz with him (you know HIM —"The Man...we all want") and in the end, after a lots of turns and struggling, she actually wins the most coveted, handsome and naughtiest, nobleman in the London ballrooms. "Callie," he said, his voice thick with warning as she set her free hand to the second button on his coat. "What if I want the rogue, Gabriel?" the question was soft and sweet. "What are you saying?" ~ ~ “Give me a taste of scandal.” Gosh! I just love those moments. I love to think about all these good romance-books I still have to enjoy. Sarah MacLean knows how to do it. So does Carolyn Morris. *********************************************************** 9 Rules to Break When Romancing a Duke had it all. Funny, romantic and steaming smexy with a good dialogue, easy to like MC's and a big amusing cast of second characters. Add a good storyline with nine naughty rules. ~ Nothing was over and done before it was over and done. I wasn't sure until the last page. I LIKE - An Adorable Awesome Audiobook...Always

  23. 5 out of 5

    Amy | Foxy Blogs

    OH MY GOSH!!! Loved it! The title of this book had me pondering what a "rake" means. A man who is morally loose. Simply put- a womanizer. I wonder if the slang word- 'ho' comes from men being called, rakes? Callie is a total rule follower. She’s a 28 years old unmarried women who is feeling unsatisfied with her proper life. Her brother challenged her to break some of her rules. Her younger sister is newly engaged and going to live the life that Callie has always dreamed of. Callie begins to ponder OH MY GOSH!!! Loved it! The title of this book had me pondering what a "rake" means. A man who is morally loose. Simply put- a womanizer. I wonder if the slang word- 'ho' comes from men being called, rakes? Callie is a total rule follower. She’s a 28 years old unmarried women who is feeling unsatisfied with her proper life. Her brother challenged her to break some of her rules. Her younger sister is newly engaged and going to live the life that Callie has always dreamed of. Callie begins to ponder, ”What if…” Callie’s list of things she wants to do in her lifetime: 1. Kiss someone – passionately 2. Smoke cheroot and drink scotch 3. Ride astride 4. Fence 5. Attend a duel 6. Fire a pistol 7. Gamble (at a gentleman’s club) 8. Dance every dance at a ball 9. Be considered beautiful. Just once. Gabriel’s a gentleman that Callie has had her eye on for 10 years. He's a powerful man who's a ladies’ man. His twin brother, Nick, and him learn they have a half sister, Julianna. To introduce Julianna into the society properly they will need a society woman to teach her the proper way of doing things. Callie and Gabriel strike a deal that starts with her getting to cross off #1 on her list in exchange for her help in getting Julianna ready to be introduce into society. "Love isn't one-sided and selfish. It is full and generous and life-altering in the best of ways. Love does not destroy. It creates." -Callie SERIES: Each book focuses on a different sibling. Book 1- Gabriel. Book 2- Nicholas. Book 3- Julianna. 185th book of 2013

  24. 5 out of 5

    Topastro

    *Originally read April 2019. Reread December 2019 & May 2020. Its safe to say I'm obsessed with this book. I only wish Carolyn Morris narrated more historical romance books.* This was my first Sarah Maclean book and I absolutely adored it. Calpurnia and Gabriel stole my heart and the audio book was fantastic. I can't wait to read more from Sarah Maclean. *Originally read April 2019. Reread December 2019 & May 2020. Its safe to say I'm obsessed with this book. I only wish Carolyn Morris narrated more historical romance books.* This was my first Sarah Maclean book and I absolutely adored it. Calpurnia and Gabriel stole my heart and the audio book was fantastic. I can't wait to read more from Sarah Maclean.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Warda

    MY EMOTIONS!!! 😭

  26. 4 out of 5

    Dina

    I love the inside cover of this book! I love the inside cover of this book!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Juliana Philippa

    Yay!! Finally a good new release, a wonderful new author, and a fantastic shy-wallflower-heroine (4.5 stars) Summary "Plain" and spinsterish 28-year-old Lady Calpurnia "Callie" Hartwell is sick of being seen as an old spinster, on-the-shelf, passive, and uninteresting - and thus THE LIST is born. On this list of nine things are activities that normally-shy Callie would never have dared to even contemplate, let alone actually do (gamble at a gentleman's club, drink scotch, smoke a cheroot, attend a Yay!! Finally a good new release, a wonderful new author, and a fantastic shy-wallflower-heroine (4.5 stars) Summary "Plain" and spinsterish 28-year-old Lady Calpurnia "Callie" Hartwell is sick of being seen as an old spinster, on-the-shelf, passive, and uninteresting - and thus THE LIST is born. On this list of nine things are activities that normally-shy Callie would never have dared to even contemplate, let alone actually do (gamble at a gentleman's club, drink scotch, smoke a cheroot, attend a duel, kiss someone passionately, etc.). Her partner in crime becomes Gabriel, Marquess of Ralston, the notorious rake whom she has secretly had a crush on for ten years. Gabriel - unlike most HR heroes, of course! - is completely opposed to the idea of love due to his parents' disastrous marriage. He is somewhat elusive and inaccessible, and does not easily open himself up to others or have the approachable demeanor that his twin brother does. A recently discovered half-sister has left him in a quandary, as her background will make it hard for the ton to accept her. So who better to help him launch her in society than the spinster with the perfect (-ly boring) reputation - who happens to conveniently have shown up at his house in the middle of the night seeking a kiss. Callie, on her end, wants to live life and experience some adventure; she is more than willing to help with Gabriel's sister, so a deal is struck and the rest is history! This book has wonderful leading characters, great supporting ones as well (especially the siblings - they're stellar), there were many laugh-out-loud scenes, the witty banter and teasing between Gabriel and Callie will leave you smiling, and the tension/romance was great. Reaction So great to find a new author and it was wonderful to finally read a good "new release" book after such a string of bad ones by some of my favorite historical romance authors. MacLean has a new book coming out again soon - October 26th to be exact - and I can't wait (!!!). The book is Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord (yes, are we sensing a pattern here with the titles?) and it will feature Gabriel's twin brother, Lord Nicholas St. Justin, and Lady Isabel Townsend (who we have not yet been introduced to). We also have Gabriel's sister's and Callie's brother's books to look forward to! Similar Books I'm a big fan of the shy-wallflower-intelligent-plain heroines - I know, unlike almost every other historical romance reader out there ;-). Anyway, here are more of my favorite books that have the same type of heroine; they're not in order of preference, but they were all 4-5 star reads for me: ~ Lisa Kleypas --- Devil in Winter, Dreaming of You ~ Suzanne Enoch --- Always a Scoundrel, London's Perfect Scoundrel (this book doesn't totally fit into the category, but the books are similar and it is one of my top five favorite HR books of all-time) ~ Christina Dodd --- One Kiss From You, Rules of Surrender, The Runaway Princess ~ Julia Quinn --- Romancing Mister Bridgerton ~ Sabrina Jeffries --- A Notorious Love ~ Judith Ivory --- The Proposition ~ Jane Feather --- The Least Likely Bride Side Note Oh, and P.S. did I mention how FABULOUS it was to finally have a character named Juliana whose name is spelled the same way as mine and is NOT one of the book's evil characters?!?! Totally looking forward to her romance with what we can only assume will be the horrid Duke of Leighton. (Written on April 16, 2010)

  28. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne (Under the Covers Book blog)

    2012 Reread - I still love this book, I wish I could give it more then 5 stars! 2015 Reread - See above, I can't help but love this book I really loved this book! I loved the idea of the list of forbidden activities, the lovable rake and the unconventional heroine. It all starts when 27 year old spinster Callie hears her younger sister having a romantic liaison with her fiancee at their betrothal dinner and hears herself described as passive. This instigates her to make a list of activties that 2012 Reread - I still love this book, I wish I could give it more then 5 stars! 2015 Reread - See above, I can't help but love this book I really loved this book! I loved the idea of the list of forbidden activities, the lovable rake and the unconventional heroine. It all starts when 27 year old spinster Callie hears her younger sister having a romantic liaison with her fiancee at their betrothal dinner and hears herself described as passive. This instigates her to make a list of activties that she has always wanted to do, such as gamble at a gentleman's club and attend a duel. She actions her first item on the list a passionate kiss, that very night. And who better to kiss then Ralston, the man she has been in love with for 10 years, but who has never noticed her. Notice her he does when she gets into his bedroom and asks for her first kiss, he obliges her but for a price. She must help Ralston introduce his sister into society. I think everyone at some point has had a similar list to Callie, a list of things they have always wanted to do and hope one day they will be able to pluck up the courage to actually go through with them. The first thing I love about Callie was that she was going to act on her list, she was going to seek out adventure after ten years of waiting for it to come to her. The infamous list leads Callie and Ralston into a number of both funny and passionate encounters, which gradually makes Ralston rethink his opnion of the seemingly very proper, plump and plain Callie. The budding relationship between them was funny and sweet, Ms Maclean wrote the banter between them perfectly. Ralston was a good hero, although I wouldn't put him under the cater gory of tortured hero, he did have a painful past that had him distrusting love. He was also wicked enough to be intriguing but not disgustingly debauched. For those of you who have read The Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas, he sometimes reminded me of a more responsible older brother of St. Vincent. However, as much as I liked Ralston, I found that, for a change, it is Callie that I remember this book for her, her transformation to passive wallflower to adventurous beauty was entertaining to watch unfurl as the romance. The cast of secondary characters were also fantastic, they were well rounded and each had their own small story. Juliana and Nicholas, Ralston's siblings also have books in this series, and I can't wait to read them!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Kay

    ★★★★★ Five full stars! I loved both the hero and heroine in this one, with the author bringing a depth of character I appreciated. It also had great secondary character development. There are a lot of situations that have been done before in other books, but they are done so much better here, with much better dialogue. I enjoyed doing it as a "buddy read," too. Thanks, ladies of Happily Ever After Café for the great discussion! ★★★★★ Five full stars! I loved both the hero and heroine in this one, with the author bringing a depth of character I appreciated. It also had great secondary character development. There are a lot of situations that have been done before in other books, but they are done so much better here, with much better dialogue. I enjoyed doing it as a "buddy read," too. Thanks, ladies of Happily Ever After Café for the great discussion!

  30. 5 out of 5

    NMmomof4

    4 Stars Overall Opinion: This was way more of an angst-fest than I was expecting, and in a good way! I am drawn to unrequited love stories because they always hit me in the feels, and this did not disappoint there! I’m not sure why I put this one off, but I think the title and blurb made it seem like a comedic hr more than the angsty goodness along with the funny banter and situations it was. I’m glad I finally got it on loan through my library and gave it a shot! My only gripe is the ending was 4 Stars Overall Opinion: This was way more of an angst-fest than I was expecting, and in a good way! I am drawn to unrequited love stories because they always hit me in the feels, and this did not disappoint there! I’m not sure why I put this one off, but I think the title and blurb made it seem like a comedic hr more than the angsty goodness along with the funny banter and situations it was. I’m glad I finally got it on loan through my library and gave it a shot! My only gripe is the ending was way too abrupt and I didn’t experience nearly enough of their HEA to please this greedy reader. Otherwise, this was a winner for me! Brief Summary of the Storyline: This is Callie and Gabriel’s story. Callie is a spinster wallflower that is bored with her pristine reputation, so she decides to make a list of scandalous things that would be an adventure for her to complete. After crossing of her first item with the help of her longtime crush, Gabriel, she ends up negotiating helping his newfound sister enter society as her sponsor. They keep on running into each other while she attempts to cross of the items on her list, and Gabriel starts to notice her in a different light. There is some angst, some sexy times, and some sweet moments...and they get a HEA ending. Point Of View (POV): This alternated between focusing on Callie and Gabriel in 3rd person narrative. Overall Pace of Story: Good until the abrupt ending. I never skimmed and I thought it flowed well otherwise. Instalove:Yes for the h, but it takes the H a while. H (Hero) rating: 3 stars. Gabriel. I wanted to shake him. A lot. Other than that, I enjoyed his character. h (heroine) rating: 4 stars. Callie. I liked her. I appreciated her spirit and how she was caring of others. Sadness level: Moderate. I shed more than a few tears for the unrequited type feelings, but I never needed any tissues. Push/Pull: Yes (view spoiler)[ The h pushes away and I’d say that the H is the main pursuer of the relationship (hide spoiler)] Heat level: Good. They have some good tension, chemistry, and scenes -- but not so much it takes away from the story. Descriptive sex: Yes OW (Other Woman)/OM (Other Man) drama: Yes, but mild (view spoiler)[ The H’s ex mistress talks with the h (non-confrontational) and there is OM that pursues the h (for a wager) that causes the H to be jealous (hide spoiler)] Sex scene with OW or OM: Yes (view spoiler)[ There is a scene that the h witnesses before anything happens with the H (about 10 years prior to this story beginning) where the H is with OW kissing and some naked groping (hide spoiler)] Cheating: No Separation: Yes (view spoiler)[They are separated shortly (day/s?), but there was no mention or suggestion of other partners during this time. (hide spoiler)] Possible Triggers: Yes (view spoiler)[ The h was a virgin and the H was a manwhore/rake before the h (on page) (hide spoiler)] Closure: This ends abruptly but with what I would call a HEA ending (view spoiler)[they’re married (hide spoiler)] . I just wanted much, much more! Way more of their HEA and the new lists they could be making together! Safety: This one should be Safe with exception for most safety gang readers depending on personal preferences (view spoiler)[ - Does Not have cheating - Does have a descriptive (semi) sex scene with the H and OW - Does have the h pushing the H away - Does have a separation between the h and H - Does Not have abuse - Does have a HEA ending (hide spoiler)]

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