Publisher: Avon (2010)
Format: Mass Market Paperback | 397 pages
Genre(s): Historical Romance
Description (Goodreads): "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..."
After all the YA books I've read this year I decided I needed to switch genres even if just for a little while. And Sarah MacLean seemed like the perfect choice. I've had this book in my shelves ever since it came out and I've read so many good reviews that I thought I should finally read it.
It felt good to read an adult book for once even if it falls into the category of "brain candy". I was looking for a quick, sensual and funny read and Sarah MacLean's debut delivered.
Lady Calpurnia Hartwell, sister of an Earl and renowned paragon of virtue among the best of London's society has had enough. Enough of being meek and well behaved. Enough of being overlooked by men. Enough of being "on the shelf". So she decides to make a list of things that she dreams of doing; scandalous things like drinking scotch and gambling at a men's club. And who better to help her than the most infamous rake of London?
Honestly there's isn't much in this book that wasn't already in other historical romances I've read. The plot isn't exactly original: there was the bold but innocent heroine and the rakish but honorable hero that seem to meet everywhere and have all these opportunities to be alone. Of course the hero has a dark past and the heroine is chirpy and believes in luurve. Same old, same old. There was even the infamous "scene in a carriage" (I think I wrote somewhere I was getting tired of those).
Still, the characters were charismatic and most important of all there was chemistry. Oh and humor (I like humor with my historical romances, that's why I love Julia Quinn).
That, more than the plot or character traits (which vary little from one book to the next, no matter the author) is what makes or breaks an historical romance in my opinion. That and the writing style. MacLean delivers superbly on both accounts with sparks flying between her protagonists and engaging writing. The pace was pretty good and she is great at writing scenes that pull at your heartstrings (even if they are cheesy).
There was an overuse of certain expressions like "this kiss was different from all the others they had previously shared" for example. Ugh, I was so tired of reading that. Every time the protagonists kissed there it was.
That aside, I enjoyed this book immensely and am very happy that I decided to buy the rest of the series a while back. I'll certainly be adding Sarah MacLean to my list of historical romance authors to watch out for.