Friday, 16 May 2014
Review: Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean
Format: Paperback / eBook
Released: May 1st, 2014
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 proper historical romance book I've read and wow did I love it! I now want to real all the regency romance, starting with those written by Sarah MacLean. I haven't been so consumed by a book for a long time, flying through its 400+ pages at a ridiculous speed. Honestly, I couldn't turn the pages fast enough!
Lady Calpurnia Hartwell is twenty-eight years old, unmarried and now considered a spinster. She's entirely fed up of the proper life of a lady, and so writes a list of things she'd like to do, activities that men typically do, like gambling and fencing. Gabriel St John, the Marquess of Ralston, unwittingly finds himself as her partner in crime, and soon it's more than just Callie's reputation on the line. Could she fall in love with a renowned rake?
I haven't read enough historical romance to comment on whether this is one of the best ones out there, but for me it certainly beats most other books I've read recently. Sarah MacLean writes with a style that can only be described as addictive, and makes her characters truly unforgettable. I never for one minute thought I'd genuinely love a regency romance, but love is indeed the only appropriate word I can use to describe my reading experience!
Callie, for me, is the best kind of heroine. She's been repressed for years, bogged down by society's rules and regulations - their idea of how a lady should behave - and she's had enough. She's on the shelf anyway, so what does her reputation matter? The fact that she decided to forego all that and do what she wants is testament to her character - she's completely headstrong and stubborn and, to the people of the ton, really quite mad. She goes after what she wants without a care for how it will affect her reputation in the long run, instead choosing to enjoy herself and actually live her life. Despite her situation, she's an independent woman who will do anything to get what she wants, by any means necessary. Which is where Ralston comes in.
Ralston is a rake, well-known for his less than positive reputation. He beds women, gambles, avoids as many social events as possible and behaves as any unattached Marquess should. He's everything Callie has ever dreamed of for over a decade, but he doesn't even notice her until the day she strides into his bedchamber. He's much like Callie when it comes to character traits: he too is infuriatingly stubborn, so used to getting his way with everyone and everything. He has trouble with feelings thanks to an absent mother, making it difficult for him to really let anyone in. His development throughout the novel is so brilliantly written and realised, and he's a male lead I won't be forgetting in a hurry! Plus, he's ridiculously handsome with the ability to raise only one eyebrow. Sigh.
Another aspect of this book I enjoyed is the whole Regency setting. My best friend happens to be an Austen enthusiast, so I know a fair amount about that period in history. I still learnt a lot of stuff through reading this book - mostly about the ton and the rules of ladies and lords - and I really enjoyed it. It was a completely different, alien world back then, with different manners and ways of life. The men were proper and romantic, while the women were mostly focused on securing themselves a well-to-do husband. My, how times have changed!
Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake has opened my eyes to the world of historical regency romance and has left me with a strong yearning to read/watch Pride and Prejudice again. It's one of those novels that takes over your life while you're reading it and is, in my opinion, the best introduction to this genre you could hope for. I loved every single page of it and I can't wait to read the rest of Sarah MacLean's Love by Numbers series. I think she's created a new historical fiction fan!
* Please note: this is an adult book with sexual content and is aimed at older readers.