by Sarah MacLean
Series: Love by Numbers #1
Genres: Historical Romance
Purchase*: Amazon *affiliate
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 is the first novel in the Love by Numbers series by author Sarah MacLean. I read a review by Chrissie @ Once Upon series and simply knew I had to read this novel. I hadn’t visited the ladies and gentlemen of the ton in quite some time and this novel delivered everything I hoped for and more. MacLean gave me feisty characters, hilarious antics and characters I adored.
Lady Calpurnia Hartwell is on the shelf. At 28 years of age, despite a healthy dowry, she finds herself destined to be seated in the spinster section of every ball. Calpurnia is considered plain by the ton. Her buxomest figure is out of fashion and only old men and fortune hunters show her a care. When her younger sister becomes engaged, Calpurnia or Callie as she prefers begins to wish she could be free of her reputation and have a little adventure. A glass of Sherri and a misguided conversation with her brother, leave this imaginative girl to create a list of nine things she would like to do for adventure. Some include; smoking a cheroot, riding astride, gambling, firing a pistol and sharing a passionate kiss. Determined to begin at once, she sneaks out of her home (at midnight) and finds herself at the door of Gabriel St. John, the Marquess of Ralston. He is breathtakingly gorgeous and a notorious rake. An act of kindness on his part when Callie was nineteen, made an impression on her. She has secretly loved him ever since. Thus, she decides he should be the one to kiss her! The tale that unfolds was deliciously romantic and absolutely hilarious as Callie gets herself in one predicament after the other.
I adored the characters MacLean has created for this novel. Callie is such a breath of fresh air. She is a true romantic at heart and a good girl. She wants adventure, but doing these things makes her nervous, creating delightful situations. Her ornery and wise maid made me laugh as did the famous seamstress. Callie’s mother despite having a big heart was dreadful. Her boisterous ways and horrific fashion sense had me bursting at the seams. Gabriel is a complete rake; with a fractured heart. Despite his dandy ways, he has a strong sense of family and looks after his twin brother and sister. With his crystal clear blue eyes and a devilish smile he had me swooning. He believes himself incapable of love and watching his journey of discovery had me consuming this novel without pause. The romance was hot and steamy and the two of them danced a delicious tango. Watching Callie unknowingly rattle this man was divine. I found myself rooting for them, and anxious as I waited for my happily –ever after.
McLean’s plot was fantastic. She kept me riveted as she delivered elements of romance, suspense, adventure, and comedy. I love when a novel sweeps you away and you drift into the realm the author has created. Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake did exactly that. While the tale wasn’t completely original, the characters came alive and I believed in them. I read this almost completely straight through and enjoyed the rollercoaster of emotions McLean wrought from me.
I highly recommend Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake to fans of historical fiction. I plan to continue with this series and will bring you future reviews. Books two and three are currently available. They are; Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord and Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke’s Heart.