books

Sarah MacLean

Books

Rules of Scoundrels: A Rogue by Any Other Name (2012), One Good Earl Deserves a Lover (2013), No Good Duke Goes Unpunished (2013), Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover (2014)

Love by Numbers: Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake (2010), Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord (2010), Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke’s Heart (2011)

 

Rules of Scoundrels

 

A Rogue by Any Other Name (2012)

A-Rogue-by-Any-Other-NameBorne is a rake and a rogue. Ruined by the loss of his estates, taken at the gaming tables by the man who had been his guardian, the father of the boy who had been his best friend. Now, part owner of one of the most exclusive gaming hells in London, Borne lives only to regain his estates and to take revenge upon the man who tried to hard to destroy him.

Lady Penelope Marbury has been on the shelf for years, and her mother despairs of her becoming a spinster. She wants Penelope married, and she wants a good marriage. One that will help her two youngest daughters make good matches. Especially since Penelope’s broken engagement years earlier put two of her other sisters in less than admirable matches.

It’s an amusing story. I did like the letters that started each chapter, that detailed Penelope’s life as she grew older, and what she felt as she wrote letters she would never sent. The letters helped understand a bit better the reactions Penelope had to Borne. Because I wasn’t buying it initially.

I enjoyed the banter–I always love good banter.

“Events of the evening are much more adventurous. Much more illicit.”
“What do you know about illicitness?”
“Not much. But I feel confident that I shall be a quick study.”

There were also a couple of passages that caused me to pause for a second.

Penelope realized that she did not think she’d ever heard the honest laughter of a woman to whom she was not related.

As someone who enjoys laughing–and tries to laugh as much as possible–the idea of living in a society where you couldn’t let your hair down and laugh is almost as bad as the rest of the restrictions women had placed upon them.

An interesting book, with quite a lot of boinking. Just so you know.

Set in 1831.
Rating: 7/10

Published by Avon

One Good Earl Deserves a Lover (2013)

One-Good-Earl-Deserves-LoverThis one I really liked.

Lady Philippa Marbury is engaged to Lord Castleton, who is very kind, but according to all the ton, very stupid. Pippa’s sister and brother-in-law have both encouraged her to break the engagement, but Pippa made a promise, and she intends to keep it. After all, Castleton isn’t a bad man, he’s just going to bore Pippa out of her mind.

Because Pippa is smart and–she fully admits–odd. She doesn’t always get social niceties, and she loves books and science.

You see immediately why I like Pippa.

Cross is another member of the Fallen Angel gambling hell (Borne was married off in the previous book), with a reputation as a ladies’ man. He was also brought on board by Chance, because of his ability to count cards (and also to keep the books). He was a second son, and living up to all that implied (lots of money and little responsibility) when tragedy struck, all of which set him on is current path.

I really liked Pippa.

“Men are uncomplicated, generally,” Sally said, all too sage. “They’re beasts when they want to be.”

“Brute ones!”

“Ah, so you understand.”

Pippa tilted her head to one side. “I’ve read about them.”

Sally nodded. “Erotic texts?”

“The Book of Common Prayer. But perhaps you have an erotic text you could recommend?”

“I am not entirely certain that I support the profession.”

“No?” Thank God. He would not put it past Pippa to simply pronounce a newfound desire to explore all aspects of the world’s oldest profession.

“No.” She shook her head. “I am concerned that the ladies are ill-treated.”

I also like that Lord Castleton was a good and kind man. It made it all the more difficult to want to see Pippa break the engagement, because there was no reason to and because she’d be hurting him for no reason.

It’s another fun story. Despite all the boinking.

Set in 1831
Rating: 8/10

Published by Avon

No Good Duke Goes Unpunished (2013)

No-Good-Duke-Goes-UnpunishedThis is the third Rule of Scoundrels book, and tells the story of how Temple ended up fighting in the basement of the Fallen Angel, despite being a Duke.

Can’t say this was my favorite. The characters were fin, but nothing amazing, and although we eventually saw why Temple should forgive her, I still have a very hard time seeing why he truly would. It’s not that she didn’t seem repentant, and it’s not like she didn’t have a good reason for running away, I can’t say that she made particularly good decisions.

And after the geek girl in the previous book, Mara was a letdown.

Not that she didn’t have her moments.

She closed her eyes and willed him to lose the power of speech. Immediately and irreversibly. “Obviously, I didn’t mean—”

“Well. Thank you.”

In the entire history of time, had willing ever worked?

She straightened. Soldiered on. “I would not take it as a compliment. The Greek gods were a strange bunch. Always turning into animals and abducting virgins.”

Dear God. Could she not keep her mouth shut?

But mostly, I felt meh about the whole thing.
Rating: 6/10

Published by Avon

Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover (2014)

Never-Judge-a-Lady-by-Her-CoverThe final book in the Rules of Scoundrels finally sees us learning the identity of Chase, the owner of the Fallen Angel and the most notorious in the group. Everyone wants to know Chase’s identity, but few have seen him.

Or rather, as the end of the last book revealed, her.

This was fun, but at times I felt let down my Chase, and I questioned some of her decisions.

First, the most obvious solution to her problems would be to go to the continent. Or India. Or any of the other places where no one would know who she was and where she could remake herself. It’s not like there was social media or anything that would make her easily recognizable (never mind the fact that few have seen her for years).

She’s got plenty of money. She could easily travel and start over somewhere else.

Second, she trusted her identity as Chase to her partners and their wives. And a number of her employees. Why on earth she couldn’t tell Duncan West as well? She trusted him with one of her secret identities, why not the other?

Not that the story wasn’t fun at many points, and I quite liked Caroline.

What did we discuss relating to Society events?”

“This is not exactly an event,” Caroline argued.

“It’s close enough. What did we say?”

Caroline’s brow furrowed. “Not to bring up skull drinking?”

And I quite liked the idea of the club helping women (from all walks of life) escape if need be. I don’t think it would have been quite as presented, and I don’t think the wealthy and titled would have often accepted, but it was still nice, and a good reminder of who is truly to blame in abusive relationships (which existed since time immemorial through today).

So, fun, but not sure the series would be worth a re-read.
Rating: 7/10

Published by Avon

 

Love by Numbers

 

Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake (2010)

Nine-Rules-to-Break-When-Romancing-a-RakeSet in London in 1823

Lady Calpurnia Hartwell (Callie to her family) is a spinster. It’s been 10 years since her coming out, and so she has come to accept that she is never going to get married (and she is quite lucky that her family didn’t force a marriage upon her). However, the engagement of her younger sister has made her realize how much life she has missed, sitting on the shelf maintaining her reputation.

I’m in for an adventure, don’t you think? Do you imagine there will be a ruddy-cheeked barkeep with a missing tooth or two? Or a tired, winsome barmaid, working to keep her children fed and clothed? Or a group of young workmen eager for a pint of ale to chase away their tiring day?”

Anne spoke dryly. “The only thing I imagine there will be in that tavern is an overly romantic lady doomed to be disappointed by reality.”

Gabriel St. John, marquess of Ralston is rake. He has no interest in marriage and even less interest in love. But when he and his twin brother discover they have a younger sister, he knows he’ll have to reform (or at least act reformed) for her to be accepted into society.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this story. Callie is delightful, deciding that she is tired of being a wall-flower and creating a list of things she wants to do. I initially wasn’t quite sure why she’d been in love with Ralston for so long, but the more we learned about him, the more complex and interesting he. Because he may well be a rake, but he generally respects women, which is a concept that was not contradictory at that time.

And she’s marvelous.

“You aren’t really here to see the art, are you?”

Callie’s confusion showed. “Certainly. I very much enjoy the fine arts. You do not?”

“I like a pretty painting as much as the next chap,” Oxford said. “But no one really comes to the private viewing to see the art, Lady Calpurnia. It’s about proving you are able to secure a ticket.”

Callie dipped her head to keep the baron from seeing her roll her eyes.

There was a good deal of boinking and pre-boinking activity in this book, but the relationship between Callie and her family, and Callie and Ralston’s family were complex and interesting. And although Callie and Ralston has misunderstandings and miscommunications (some of which I saw coming from quite a while away) they generally talk to each other and resolve those misunderstandings. (People having misunderstandings and NOT talking to each other is something that irks me in books.)

So, despite all the boinking, I quite enjoyed it.
Rating: 7.5/10

Published by HarperCollins

Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord (2010)

Ten-Ways-to-Be-Adored-When-Landing-a-LordSet in England and Yorkshire in June 1823.

This book follows Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake, and sees the other twin, Nicholas St. John, become a highly sought-after prize on the marriage mart. So when he’s asked to search for a friend’s missing sister, he gladly leaves London.

Lady Isabel Townsend is impoverished, holding the family lands together by her wits and hard work, while her father squanders everything that isn’t entailed. Unfortunately for her, because her brother is a minor and she only a female, her father’s death doesn’t make things any easier for her.

Especially since she is hiding a whole lot of secrets.

There is much to enjoy about this book. For instance, Isabel’s brother:

A young boy with a face covered in what looked suspiciously like strawberry jam. Nick was not entirely certain how to proceed under such circumstances, but, before he could say anything at all, the child took matters into his own hands.

The door slammed shut as quickly as it had opened.

“THERE’S A MAN AT THE DOOR!”

And Nicholas’ friend Rock (who I very much liked, and am sorry he got such short shrift in this story).

“What would one need with a houseful of women? ”

Rock set his book aside, leaning back against his chair and looking up at the ceiling. “There isn’t a single reasonable answer to that question.”

There were things that bothered me about this story–not big things, just niggling little irritations that didn’t throw me out of the story, but nagged at me nevertheless, but the fact that Nick is so kind and generous allowed me to easily sweep them aside.

(S)he redirected her attention to her brother.

Only to discover that he was wearing an equally unlikely dinner ensemble: short pants, a dirty linen shirt, and an elaborately tied— if hopelessly wrinkled— cravat.

It’s a cute story, and I liked the characters and how they held so strongly to what they believed. It wasn’t the strongest story, but it was a pleasant escape.

Please note: this is a boinking book.
Rating: 7/10

Published by HarperCollins

Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke’s Heart (2011)

Eleven-Scandals-to-Start-to-Win-a-Dukes-HeartJuliana Fiori is the daughter of scandal–her mother abandoned her first husband and twin sons and ran off to Italy to marry a merchant, and then abandoned that husband as well. After her father’s death, she discovers she has two brothers who will both help her and present her to society. Unfortunately, society is uninterested in a young woman of dubious birth.

Juliana was suddenly, embarrassingly aware of the fact that she was in a man’s home. Unescorted. With the exception of a dog. Who had already been revealed to be a poor judge of character.

Simon Pearson, the Duke of Leighton, wants nothing to do with scandal, partially because of how he was raised, and partially because of events in the previous book. His is friends with the younger Ralston, St John, but can’t stand the older brother Gabriel, who as a notorious rake until marriage (see, the first book) settled him down, and with his own impending scandal, wants absolutely nothing to do with Juliana.

Unfortunately, trouble seems to follow Juliana, and leads her to the Duke of Leighton.

“Handled him how?”

She paused, cradling her bruised wrist in her hand in a way that made him wonder if she might have sprained it. “I hit him.”

“Where?” Ralston blurted.

“In the gardens.”

The marquess looked to the ceiling, and Simon took pity on him. “I believe your brother was asking where on his person did you strike your attacker?”

I really like Juliana. I loved her inability to get idiom and her turns of phrase.

“He called me a pie!” she announced, defensively. There was a pause. “Wait. That’s not right.”

Simon, on the other hand, was very hard to like. I understand that he was raised by a horrible mother, and has tried very hard to live up to his reputation as a Duke, but… he he is just not very nice.

(H)e took her elbow and turned her toward her brother’s home. “Walk.”

“Why?”

“Because we cannot remain standing here. It is not done.”

She shook her head. “Leave it to the English to outlaw standing.”

I want Juliana to be happy, and I of course want Simon to stop being a jerk, but I have a difficult time believing he’d truly overcome how he was raised, and would make Juliana happy in the long run.

So, it was an interesting story, I just didn’t like the hero, and am not certain they really had a HEA.
Rating: 6.5/10

Published by HarperCollins ebooks