RITA Reader Challenge Review

RITA Reader Challenge Review: Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean

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Title: Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake
Author: Sarah MacLean
Publication Info: Avon 2010
ISBN: 9780061852053
Genre: Regency

RITA®, and the RITA statuette are service marks of Romance Writers of America, Inc.The rules of the RITA® Reader Challenge stipulated a limit of 250 words, but I loved this review SO much I let it break that rule. This is not an invitation for anyone else to so, but I loved Diana’s review because it highlights how fiction can dare readers to think of themselves differently.

Book Cover First, the description of the book:

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 . . .

And now, the review, from Diana:

I’m taking a chance to send something I wrote just last night, having read the book NINE RULES TO BREAK WHEN ROMANCING A RAKE by Sarah MacLean just a couple of nights ago. I’m new to reading romance novels, and I have relied on sites such as yours to figure out which books to try and whatnot. I’m a lurker, and have not participated in anything, not really having the boldness to do so, till now. I really enjoyed reading this book, and something compelled me to express my love for this story, and it’s the same force that gave me courage to share what I wrote. Nothing fancy, nothing extraordinary. So … whether this gets to be a part of the review collection, is out of my hands. (I guess I’m just taking a page out of my favorite heroine, and the mere thought of writing a review and sharing it with others is good enough for me.) Thanks for taking the time to read!

Quite possibly one of the hottest, most delicious story of love I have ever read. (And trust me, I have not stopped devouring romance novels since I discovered it at the beginning of this year, and this is definitely listed in my top five.) There is this Something Special about this book that had me laughing and gasping and fanning myself and sighing and crying and everything in between. Sure, the wallflower spinster heroine has been featured many times before, and so has the rakish hero that is sure to win her heart, but in the hands of Sarah Maclean, their personalities and their stories transcends the archetypes and they simply become …. real.

Maybe it’s because even though Lady Calpurnia Hartwell has been put ‘on the shelf’ she hasn’t given up on life—on living HER life. So though reputable and sensible, she allows herself to do the unthinkable and makes a list of things she must do in her life to satisfy her, so she can be happy. Ladies, who here has not put into words (lists!) their dreams of breaking through and accomplishing the very thing that seems out of reach, limiting us, compelling us to live our lives, but barely just. I for one, can relate to her situation of being boxed in, and I can really sympathize with her, and the only thing left for me to do was to root for this person who turned her life around by being proactive instead of just reactive; this woman who is intelligent and kindhearted, principled, loving, Callie. To see her succeed, to live and experience life and happiness, to achieve her dreams, and most important of all, to be loved, and to see herself as who she is: strong . . . impassioned . . . beautiful. All this, without hurting anyone, without being bitter and cynical, and despite her heartbreak, never wavering on her principles and not compromising her belief.

Then, there’s our hero, the very man who ignited that spark within our heroine’s heart, Gabriel St. John, the Marquess of Ralston, the man who got swept up in our heroine’s plight of adventure (seriously, he did not stand a chance, did he?) My dear Ralston, you were made to love her, and love her you did. Charm her and love her. Infuriate her, and love her. Seduce her and love her (oh my, the sexual tension, unspeakable heights of hotness and sexiness). Encourage her, and love her. Open up to her and love her. Open her eyes to see how beautiful she is, and love her. Make sure she gets to live the life she deserves and love her. You saw her for who she is, and damn that pride, and the stubbornness (well, in you both, really), because you truly and magnificently proved to her just what she means to you.

This is one of those unputdownable books for me. One of those books that made me gasp/sigh audibly. One of those books that gave me those blasted butterflies in my stomach that seemed to turn pterodactyl-like in one of those heart-wrenching scenes. I wanted to scream in frustration and shake the person into realization. I was silently yelling at her, ‘Tell him! Tell him!’ I was begging him to see what was happening as it was happening and I wanted their happiness together to begin as soon as possible, anxious for the misunderstandings to be set right, knowing that True Love awaits. I wanted more of their story, after they got their happily ever after. I suppose, there is nothing left to say, except that Ms. MacLean has succeeded. Superbly, of course, because just as Ralston told Callie that kisses should not leave you satisfied, the same also goes for reading great stories.

They should leave you wanting.


Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake is available from Amazon | Kindle | BN | nook | Book Depository | Powell’s

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Freshechelle says:

    I have flirted with downloading this book for months. Was surprised when the author asked me to be her friend on FB despite the fact that previously I hadn’t heard of her.  Smart ego-stroking move on her part – maybe she secretly knows me.  Anyhoo, this review finally pushed me over the edge.  Nice to see the genre so warmly embraced by a neophyte. (did I use that word correctly?  hope so)

  2. 2
    Suzanne says:

    I read this book last month and it was a great read. I am with Diana on recommending this little winner. :)

  3. 3
    Mary says:

    I loved this book. So much fun!

  4. 4
    Marinell says:

    I love all her books.  They are wonderful.

  5. 5
    Natalie Arloa says:

    What a marvelous review! I was swept away by your swept-awayness and I’m going to read this book now. I hadn’t been planning to before, but now I have to.

  6. 6
    kkw says:

    What a wonderful review.  Thanks, Diana!  I was looking forward to reading this before and now I can’t wait.

  7. 7
    Lil' Deviant says:

    I read this a few months ago.  I picked it up because someone here went on so about it.  I will admit to not reading a lot of historicals.  But I LOVED LOVED LOVED this book.  It is one of the books I point out to strangers in the store now.  If your looking for a good book….really should give this one a try.  *wink wink*

    If I hadn’t already read this book this review would have made me look it up.  I think you hit all the high points of why I enjoyed it so much!

    Thanks for sharing your review.

  8. 8
    Kristin says:

    I absolutely adored this book and you wrote a truly fabulous review.

  9. 9
    Amber Shah says:

    This is a great review.  I’ve been circling around this book for awhile now, because though it got high reviews, I am burned out of the whole spinster/rake match.  BUT, I’m off to download a sample now thanks to this…

  10. 10
    Diana says:

    Aww, it’s here!! Thank you very much, SB Sarah, for publishing my review [ahem, and for letting me break a rule, just like Callie :P] and to everyone for the kind words. I really hope you guys that are reading this will go out and buy this book and hopefully you’ll end up loving it as much as I do! <3

  11. 11
    Christy says:

    I had absolutely the same reaction to this book.  I even, for the first time ever, emailed the author to tell her how much I loved it.  I can’t wait for Juliana’s book on April 26th!

  12. 12
    PattiR says:

    I have this downloaded on my NOOK (as well as the second book Mr. McLean wrote in this series) just have not had the time to read it.  Now I cannot wait and will make the time! 
    Thanks for ‘breaking the rules’ and writing this review Diana.  Wonderful job!

  13. 13
    PattiR says:

    Should Say *MS. MACLean*  OY!

  14. 14
    Meredith says:

    Fabulous review! I’ve read all three books in the series now (and highly recommend them ALL, esp. if you want to see Callie and Ralston get their “happily ever after”) but Callie remains my favorite heroine.

  15. 15
    Del says:

    Well, that does it. This book has to be on my wish list after such a warmhearted review. Thanks for the rec, Diana :)

  16. 16

    Great review! I love this book so much. About a year ago, I never read romance novels, and always thought they were silly. Then I picked this book up because she also wrote a YA book I enjoyed. It totally opened my eyes to historical romance and how awesome it is, and now I am a total addict… but this book is still my favorite! I am desperately waiting the third book on the 26th!

  17. 17
    Campbell says:

    I don’t know what’s wrong with me….everyone seems to love this book, but it did absolutely nothing for me. Although the premise was rather unique, the romance between Gabriel and Callie seemed so, well, typical.

    I really, really wanted to like this book, since I had heard so many good things about it. Then again, sometimes too much hype can ruin books for me…my expectations are so high that the real thing is doomed to fall short. But I feel like I read a different book from everyone else, because I literally had to force myself to finish it.

    Part of it could also be that I came to Nine Rules fresh off a huge buzz from Unveiled, which I absolutely adored. For me, the former just couldn’t compare.

    Ah well…to each her own. Great review, though! I’m glad others enjoyed this book, even if I didn’t!

  18. 18

    I know it’s a faux pas for writers to comment on reviews of their books, but I can’t help it!

    Diana, I think you just gave me my most favorite review ever. I’m so honored that you took the time to read Nine Rules, and so so flattered that you decided to write a review of it.

    And more than all that, I’m so grateful that you did…because you can’t possibly know how you’ve inspired me today, on a day when deadlines and doubt loom. Thank you. Thank you thank you.

  19. 19
    Isalys says:

    This is one of my TOP 5 favorite romances, ever!  It’s one of those stories that just stays with you…long after you’ve finished reading it, your find yourself comparing others to it. It has truly set a standard for what a romance novel should be!

    Great review Diana!
    ~Isalys

  20. 20
    Din says:

    Diana, I think you just gave me my most favorite review ever.

    Oh my God. Your comment, all of it. You took away all my words, and I am only left astounded, immobilized, and elated. I am humbled, and really very grateful for giving us an awesome story and great characters, especially ones we can aspire to be. Thank you. :D

  21. 21
    michellekcanada says:

    One of the best books I read all of last year. 10 was just as awesome and I can’t wait till later this month for 11!

  22. 22
    Pamelia says:

    This book is one of my favorites too.  Thanks for the great review and I too am waiting for book 3.

  23. 23
    Aimee says:

    I love love love this book, and I am so excited for her next release! Probably my favourite romance novel OF ALL TIME!

  24. 24
    CrookedGoose says:

    I love this series.  She also wrote a regency YA, “The Season” that I liked too.

  25. 25
    Patsy says:

    I downloaded this because of this review, and I COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN.  I have now purchased the rest of Sarah Maclean’s books.  Thank you!

  26. 26
    V says:

    Read the first chapter because you guys gave it an A-. Loved it and now reading the rest. Thanks!

  27. 27
    lizzie(greeneyedfem) says:

    I started—and finished—this book this weekend, and really enjoyed it. Some of the dialogue was laugh-out-loud, and I love the “spinster decides to live a little” storyline (The Blue Castle is one of my favorite books ever).

    AND the sex is hot—yay! But I have to share my one criticism, because it happens fairly often in romances and it always pulls me out of the story. That is, that there are not one but TWO scenes in which sex is had in an insecure location (meaning, they are not in a private room or bedroom, the door is unlocked, anyone could walk in at any time, and it’s frankly surprising no one does).

    ARGH—this drives me BONKERS—when the hero and heroine are naked and/or full-on having sex in a public place (or a house teeming with servants, or a garden full of guests, etc etc), and neither one thinks twice about it. The thrill of potential discovery is not part of the sexual encounter, and neither character thinks, “What if someone walks in right now?” or “Should we lock the door?” or “Anyone could see us!” Nope, they are just magically undisturbed and unobserved for up to an hour, with no anxiety about being walked in on.

    I never quite believe it in any book and in this book it happens TWICE! Do hero/heroine pairings just have some outsider-expelling forcefield that forms around them once the dress comes off?? /petpeeverant

  28. 28
    Karin says:

    I’ve never read anything by the author before, but this review sold me on it.

  29. 29
    Emily says:

    I thought this book was typical but So well down. The epitome of romance novels.

  30. 30
    Jilli-Bean says:

    I read this book based off of the review here and I’m SO GLAD that I did. Being a brown eyed brunette who’s a bit on the overweight side, I tend to have a soft spot for similar heroines. Callie’s determination and courageousness in changing her life for herself, not because anyone else thinks she should, and on her terms made me smile.

    I think one of the other great things about this book is that she and her sister are friends, even though on is called ‘The Allendale Angel’ and the other is an unnoticed spinster. There had been a post here about the lack of female compatriots in romance literature and I think the Allendale sisters, who later happily bring Juliana into their fold is a book that has it in spades. Genuine brotherly love too.

    Thanks again for turning me on to this book guys!

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