Great for fans of Julia Quinn's Bridgerton Series
With the upcoming Bridgerton series which will be airing on Netflix on December 25th, I was very much in the mood to read other Regency romances. This is one of Sarah MacLean's first books, published ten years ago, but is so worth going back to. I've read it once before several years ago, but this time I listened to the audiobook and just adored it. The reader's (Carolyn Morris) performance was fantastic. She delivered so much emotion for both leads, perhaps more than I could have done in my head alone. That's the beauty of an audiobook - if you find the right narrator, mixed with a great writer, you're in for a fantastic experience.
In Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake (great title by the way), we fall hard for Callie, an Earl's spinster sister. Callie is a wallflower of the highest order, and well on the shelf at 28 years old. When her younger sister gets engaged, and to a Duke no less, Callie starts really examining her life and she finds it quite lacking. She's tired of being the staid, passive wallflower. She craves adventure. Callie writes up a list of things that she wants to do - quite scandalous things - like smoking, gambling...and kissing - heaven forbid. All of the things on her list are quite forbidden to a highborn lady in English society. For her first kiss and in an attempt to cross off the first item on her list, Callie finds herself clandestinely visiting the Marquess of Ralston in the middle of the night. Callie has loved Ralston from afar for a decade and if she is going to kiss anyone, she wants it to be him. Ralston is a rake of the highest order - he could have taken advantage of Callie and ruined her completely. However, he finds himself curious about his midnight visitor. He also knows that Callie is the perfect person to help introduce his sister into society. The two strike a bargain to help each other, neither realizing just how much their lives have changed in that moment.
Ralston is such a complex character. Seeing him change throughout the story is remarkable. Callie changes as well. She becomes braver, and she finds the person she was always meant to be. As in any good Regency romance, there are waltzes and hidden kisses in the alcoves of ballrooms. There are forbidden touches and heated glances. Beautiful dresses and perfectly styled cravats. But in Callie's search for adventure, we also find things that normal female characters would never do at this time. There is always the risk of being caught, and that makes the story that much more interesting. The love scenes are steamy, and the love story is beautiful.
If you are looking for a really good romance, with complex characters and a bit of rule breaking, then this is the book for you. I highly recommend it, and what a great way to get in the mood for the Bridgerton series.