As the Italian half-sister to the Marquess of Ralston, Juliana Fiore is no stranger to scandal. True, her habits of bold dress and speaking her mind don't help her situation, nor does having a foreign merchant for a father. But the real scandal of her reputation has little to do with her at all - and everything to do with her mother. And her habits of running out on her children and marriages.
Unable to overcome such a shocking parentage, Juliana soon learns to stop trying to live it down. Why bother when the ton only thinks the worst of her anyway? Especially when the Duke of Leighton is around.
Except the Duke of Disdain hasn't always despised her. In fact he was once just Simon to her. Until he found out who she was, because to Leighton reputation is everything and scandal is the last thing he wants, seeks or needs. But when Juliana challenges him to a wager of passion, even this cold Duke is too human to resist.
After the Excellent Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake and the disappointing Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord, I'll admit I was a little nervous about this final part of the St.John siblings' trilogy. Thankfully the first chapter proved me wrong. Juliana (unlike Nick) more than lives up to the promise of the fiery, spirited and slightly insecure young woman seen in the previous books. She's reckless, passionate and fun - especially when her English idioms fail her - but she's also caring and warm.
Which makes her pursuit of Simon slightly perplexing. This is not a man wearing a public mask and behaving totally different in private. He really is the Duke of Disdain, cold, judgemental and arrogant. He doesn't have a softer side - until Juliana turns his life completely upside down. Which means he spends the majority of this book being insufferable and arrogant, confused about just how Juliana keeps getting to him.
Set in the heart of the London ton there's plenty of scope for fun and farce - except this isn't the jubilant romp of Nine Ways.... Instead it's an elitist, catty place where Juliana faces more humiliation than humour. At least she has the support of sister-in-law Callie and new duchess Mariana, else this would be too bleak to bear.
Although I'm not sure what Juliana wanted to achieve with her challenge, and I'll admit I did grow bored of the constant superiority/inferiority complexes, conversations and arguments, this is a definite improvement on Ten Ways.... In all it's a fairly decent historical tale, with nothing too objectionable or memorable. Good, with hints of greatness, it just lacks the overall sparkle that MacLean is capable of. 3.5 stars.
I absolutely loved "Nine rules to break when romancing a rake", the first in this series from MacLean, and was hugely disappointed with "ten ways to be adored when landing a lord" so I bought this on a whim really. I was eager to get back to London and Ralston & Calle (from the first book), and wanted to see Juliana bring Leighton to heel!
Whilst I don't believe it as good as the first, it still holds an attraction, and gives you more insight into the already established characters as well as an introduction to someone I hadn't expect to meet!
"Eleven scadals" finishes off this series nicely and also gives you a brief glimpse of the heroine in "a rogue by any other name", MacLean's newest novel.
Juliana Fiori may be the sister to a powerful Marquess but that doesn't mean she's a simpering English miss. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth as trouble and scandal seem to follow her wherever she goes and the ton delights in making her the subject of their gossip.
Simon Pearson, the Duke of Leighton doesn't have room in his perfect, ordered life for scandal of any kind. He is too focussed on his reputation, title and keeping his secrets well hidden. But Juliana presents a temptation that he can't quite resist and when she promises to show him passion - he might just find he's not as above love as he first thought.
From the first page I was hooked by this book. I loved Simon and Juliana from MacLean's first two books and couldn't wait for them to get their own story. Juliana was the feisty Italian that I came to expect and Simon was even more of the disdainful, arrogant duke than he first appeared. The pair had good chemistry and interacted well.
The story kept me interested and I couldn't put the book down. Until about the middle. Then, for some reason, I became a little disenchanted. Simon and Juliana seemed to be on a neverending cycle of her doing something scandalous, him being disdainful and neither of them ever bending, learning or changing. It picked up again towards the end and I liked the ending although, if I'm honest, I didn't feel that I ever got to completely understand the characters, their love or their motivations.
I've still given this book 4 stars because I'll admit that since I was so looking forward to this book it probably could never have lived up to my expectations. Add to that the fact that it could never beat the exceptional Nine Rules to Break... and I've probably given worse books more stars.
Overall I still really liked this book and would recommend it to someone who enjoys a good ol' Regency romance. It's well written, engaging and I'm sure you will enjoy it. I'll also eagerly be waiting for MacLean's next book and the start of The Fallen Angel's series, A Rogue by Any Other Name. 4 stars from me!
This book needed a good editor. The story, as told by another reviewer, was quite interesting but oh lord the internal arguments of the two protagonists went on ... and on ... it seemed, forever. Very repetitious too, padding out the book so much that I skimmed the last third. Each time the couple came together it was "just for one night" as he was betrothed and she was too scandalous for him ... and lo, a few pages on, there they were, having another sensuous session. Followed by pages of their individual - and uninteresting - musings. If the author had cut some of her precious pages, this would have been a neat ending to the series. As it is, like so many last books in series, this was a disappointment.