Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake is Sarah MacLean’s second book and the next book in the Summer of Sarah MacLean Event. The event is being hosted by Kelly Gallucci (bookish.kelly on Instagram) and Dana Cuadrado (To All the Nerdy Girls on Instagram) and if you would like more information about the event you can look at my review of The Season.
First, I’d be remiss in not saying – what a FABULOUS title! Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake may be long, but it rhymes and I’m already dying to read this book based on its title alone! Also, this is the first in the Love by Numbers books – who doesn’t love a trilogy?
I have to be honest, I have heard this book referenced A LOT over the years and always planned to read it, but didn’t. THAT was a mistake. As you may have picked up, I read A LOT and adore MANY romance novels but I only have one favourite, Born to be Wilde by Eloisa James, but this book, is coming in for a close tie. Yes, it was that good.
I recently did a writing course with Sarah MacLean, and she mentioned she likes to write books where the hero and/or heroine or both feel like they don’t deserve or will never have love – something I think many people feel in their life. Or hope, it’s not just me, right?
This novel’s heroine is Lady Calpurnia Hartwell, or Callie as she’d prefer to be called. She describes herself as being very plain, unable to see her own beauty. She comes from a good family and has a decent dowry, but she and others feel she lacks in the looks department. Even her family comments on her weight and feel she is officially on the shelf at twenty-eight. I so identified with this character, and it was heartbreaking.
But Callie decides to take her life in her own hands, she’s maintained a perfect reputation all these years but has had no life. She decides to write a truly wonderful list of things she would do if she didn’t have to worry about her reputation – and then she begins to execute them!! LOVE her grabbing her own happiness!!
The first thing Callie wants to have crossed off her list is to be truly kissed, and who better to bestow such a kiss is the well-known rake Gabriel St. John, Marquess of Ralston? Callie had a memorable encounter with Ralson in her first season, which gave her good reason to believe he would be the perfect man to provide a kiss – she was not wrong.
Unlike The Season, this is very much an adult romance with LOTS of wonderful sexy times!! Callie gets what she very much deserves throughout this novel!!
As you have probably guessed, Ralston is the hero of our story. He really doesn’t know what to make of Callie, but he does need her help, ushering his newly discovered sister into society, so he offers the most wonderful kiss in exchange. Ralston and his identical twin brother Nicholas St. John had a troubled childhood due to their mother leaving their father when they were ten, his father never recovered, and both men stopped believing in love. So heartbreaking!!
Ralston is a notorious rake, who has no intentions of ever settling down, but he can’t seem to resist Callie. It is truly wonderful to watch him become so enthralled with the lovely Callie. But like most heroes, he makes some mistakes along the way. MacLean excels at writing the grovel. And grovel he must!!
I LOVED that Callie found the love she thought she would never find AFTER going out of her way to create her own happiness and adventure! Callie’s list was both personal and an exciting adventure. I applaud any woman who takes their own life and future in their hands.
It was a pleasure to see both Callie and Gabriel grow, as they eventually found their happiness. This book left me with so many feeling but the biggest among them was hope.