The regency-romance genre has strong rules for the proper behavior of ladies, and Sophie Stanton, the female lead of Sex and the Single Earl has no intention of following them. The title of the book, as well as all the descriptions on the front and back cover imply that we're really going to get modern mores in regency dress. That bugs some readers, but I don't mind it - I enjoy a writer like Amanda Quick, who creates modern, independent women in historical guise. The book is well written, though the characters are rather 1-dimensional, and Vanessa Kelly seems to have a pretty good grasp on the historical period. That would probably have led to a 4-star review, but I didn't buy the relationship between the leads.
The "tension" in this book revolves around the pressure everyone around Sophie - especially Simon St. James, her love interest - places on her to conform. The irony is that Sophie ultimately almost always does conform, and Simon, who is presented as the most priggish, reputation-obsessed character, actually seduces her repeatedly in a blatant disregard for his society's values. The contradictions inherent in this behavior for both lead characters does bug me, especially since no one seems to notice how inconsistent their behavior is. So that would have resulted in probably 3 stars, but I had to bring it down to 2 because of the ending.
Romance is supposed to be far-fetched, but it shouldn't be stupid, and alpha males are appealing, but not if they're abusive. When Sophie races off to save a lower-class girl from being auctioned off at a brothel (her one act of non-conformity!) and ends up being beaten and an inch from being raped and killed by the girl's father, she should not also have been subjected to threats by her fiance before he even gets her out of the brothel, nor should he have pressed rough sex on her the next day. I don't know what the appeal is of an innocent girl who is pushed into torrid sex and then emotionally abused by her lover, but I really didn't like it. And if Sophie had truly been non-conformist, she would have kicked Simon's a-- to the curb (I guess I should have been warned by the description of Sophie on the back cover as "ungovernable and flighty" - so belittling!).