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on 15 June 2010
"Nine rules to break when romancing a rake" is a delightful and entertaining book that I loved reading.

Lady Calpurnia Hartwell (that's really her name!) has always followed the rules of society and it never did her any good. She's nearly thirty and still a spinster without any hope to find a man she could love. Over the years she has accepted the role of a walflower and lost hope to lead a more satisfying life.
When her younger sister get's engaged Callie realizes that it's finally time to do something about the boredom in her life. She makes up a list with nine items that she wants to do but aren't acceptable for a single woman. Suprisingly the one man she has dreamed about for years turns out to be her partner in crime. Gabriel St. John, the Marquess of Ralston, wants Callie's help to intruduce his newly found sister into society. He soon realizes that Callie is so much more than a wallflower and is utterly fascinated by her. She is happy about his attention but still dreams of his love even though she fears that he will never be able to truly love her.

"Nine rules to break when romancing a rake" by Sarah MacLean is one of the best historical romances I read in a long time. The story is so lovely and I enjoyed reading about the characters right from the start. The plot is very entertaining and also unique. I love the idea of the list and how carrying out the items made Callie into a stronger woman. She is a great and very likable character and Gabriel is perfect for her. I loved how in the end he convinced her that she really is as beautiful on the outside as on the inside. Gabriel is a strong man who can have everything he wants in life. But he never misuses his privilege and he is really a very charning rake. I enjoyed all the scenes when Callie and Gabriel were together and I especially liked their banter and the sexy moments between them.
I also enjoyed reading about Callie and Gabriel's siblings and hope to meet them again in future books by Sarah MacLean.

So all in all there's nothing left to say besides that I think that Sarah MacLean is a fantastic author. I will definitely get her upcoming book "Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord" which will be published November 1 2010 and is about Gabriel's twin brother Nicholas.
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VINE VOICEon 19 June 2010
At the ripe old age of 28, Lady Calpurnia Hartwell is firmly on the shelf. Relegated to the spinster seating at every ball and on the fringes on society, Callie is a little more than unsatisfied by her lot. So she vows to make a change in her life and do all the things that she's always wanted to do even if she has to break society's rules to do it.

But stealing a midnight kiss, smoking a cheroot, learning to fence and drinking in a tavern aren't as easy to achieve without a willing partner. And willing or not, the handsome rake Gabriel St. John, the Marquess of Ralston, soon finds himself caught up in Callie's adventures.

I absolutely adored this book and it's definitely one of the best that I've read in a long time. Gabriel is a delicious rake but he's such a rich character and it's so entertaining to see him almost baffled by his growing feelings towards Callie. Callie herself was such a refreshing heroine. She was so endearing and likeable that I felt really engaged with her and really rooted for her. Together the pair had the kind of chemistry that gives you butterflies in your stomach and makes you think about the story even when you're not reading.

The plot itself was witty, clever and so entertaining. Despite Callie undertaking scandalous tasks, the book never got ridiculous and you always cheered for Callie. There were times when I laughed out loud, times when I felt Callie's pain and times when I was almost giddy at the sweetness of the romance between Callie and Gabriel. There were also no clichés and the secondary characters were as rich and full as the main pair but without ever overshadowing the actual love story. Gabriel's twin brother, Nick, gets his own story in the next book, Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord. I'm hoping that other characters that appear in this book also get their own stories in the future.

Overall this is a book that leaves you with a warm, fuzzy feeling. It's so well written and so engaging that you're sure to enjoy it and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good romance. I will definitely be looking out for any new stories written by Sarah McLean. 5 stars.
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on 16 June 2017
One of the better books of this genre. Easy to read and very entertaining. It has a good story line. I was impressed that I could not completely predict the story line. Generally these kind of stories are written to a set formula and you always know what will happen and how it ends. This had one or two surprises in stock which made it more enjoyable. The heroin is very likeable and so are the other characters.
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After ten unsuccessful years on the marriage mart, Lady Calpurnia Hartwell has had enough. An impeccable reputation is all very well, but hardly what she dreamed of as a child. With her little sister about to marry, Callie is tired of false sympathy and impertinent comments. Perhaps the time has come to stop being so passive - and to take her fate into her own hands.

After all, she's never even been kissed! Luckily she has just the rake in mind to help her out - Gabriel St. John, Marquess of Ralston - who Callie's been in love with for ten long years. But when Ralston bargains for her help in return for a kiss, a new Callie is born, and it's time to have some fun.

Ridiculous, frivolous, funny and thoroughly enjoyable, Callie's adventures in the top tier of the ton are a delight. As a proper girl who has always done what's expected of her, no one could blame her for being tired of being good. Especially when it's done nothing for her. And the bold, frequently fearless way she sets about achieving her list with such romantic naivety makes her hopelessly endearing. She's no fool, she's just had enough of being ignored while life passes her by.

Ralston is a suitably handsome hero, seductive and sinful, with an awkward habit of turning noble at just the wrong moments. He's got enough shadows in his past to hint at being a tragic hero, but his cheeky twin brother and unexpected sister save him from angst. As does his indulgence for Callie's starts, no matter how ridiculous they are.

Pure fun from start to finish, with a sparkling historical setting, a touch of adventure, a hint of wickedness and bundles of romance, MacLean is a great addition to the genre. As for whether Callie achieves everything on her list... well, you'll just have to read it and see.
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on 5 April 2017
Well-written, sharply witty and lovable flawed characters. I am hooked! Already downloading the next in the series. Sarah Maclean fan.
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on 14 April 2013
This book was brill. It had a heroine who I could relate to and I grew to like the hero too. Good plot with lovely characters and lots of humour. I HAD to read it in one go which obviously I couldn't do but managed it in 24 hours. Wish I could read it all over again.
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on 2 March 2012
I rarely write reviews but felt I had to in this case because I nearly didn't buy the book because I had severe reservations after reading the previous reviews and then loved it!

I found it was a light-hearted read that was well paced from start to finish. It was definitely fun and easy to read.
The main characters were a delight from their introduction and continued to improve on further acquaintance. I was worried that there would be no attention to historical accuracy if a gently-bred female was going to carry out the items on this list but the setting was perfect and there was meticulous detail about most of the period fashions and cusoms. I originally thought that the "9 rules" to break would end up by being repetitive but this was not the case and the plot lines kept me interested all the way through.

I do agree with one of the reviewers however - there were at least 3 "turgid" nipples in various scenes through out the book which I also couldn't take seriously but they did make laugh! Fortunately these were the only occasions where I felt the writing was in the least bit clumsy.

I would definitely recommend this book and am now off to buy the next one in the series.
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on 9 November 2010
Loved this book. Some books of this genre are a bit too soppy for me but this was great and made me want to keep turning the page!
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on 27 February 2012
I really enjoyed Sarah MacLean's fresh voice and accomplished writing style, and there were a lot of things about this book I liked - the family feeling between the otherwise prickly St. John family was lovely, and I also liked the way the heroine's family love her but clearly underestimate her. The Regency atmosphere is also great - whether she's conjuring up a private fencing club or a crowded shopping street, Sarah MacLean's descriptions are evocative and sharp.

I liked Callie, the resourceful imaginative heroine stuck in a wallflower's life, and I liked the plot device of her list of things that she intended to do even though they were forbidden to respectable ladies, particularly the very funny scene with the cheroot. I wanted her to find love on her own terms.

Unfortunately, I just couldn't buy into the central romance. I liked Ralston when he was with his family and when he first does a completely unexpected act of kindness for Callie in the first chapter, but the further I read into the book the less I felt I knew or liked him. The final straw was when he demanded to be allowed to *supervise* the rest of her explorations of her list, and enforced this with a threat of blackmail. I felt that if she married him she would just be exchanging one captivity for another, and not in the fun way, either. Also, there's a love scene involving a turgid nipple, and I just can't take turgid nipples seriously.

I wish I'd liked this book better, and I'd definitely read more by Sarah MacLean in the future. Three stars.
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Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake is the first proper historical romance book I've read and wow did I love it! I now want to real all the regency romance, starting with those written by Sarah MacLean. I haven't been so consumed by a book for a long time, flying through its 400+ pages at a ridiculous speed. Honestly, I couldn't turn the pages fast enough!

Lady Calpurnia Hartwell is twenty-eight years old, unmarried and now considered a spinster. She's entirely fed up of the proper life of a lady, and so writes a list of things she'd like to do, activities that men typically do, like gambling and fencing. Gabriel St John, the Marquess of Ralston, unwittingly finds himself as her partner in crime, and soon it's more than just Callie's reputation on the line. Could she fall in love with a renowned rake?

I haven't read enough historical romance to comment on whether this is one of the best ones out there, but for me it certainly beats most other books I've read recently. Sarah Maclean writes with a style that can only be described as addictive, and makes her characters truly unforgettable. I never for one minute thought I'd genuinely love a regency romance, but love is indeed the only appropriate word I can use to describe my reading experience!

Callie, for me, is the best kind of heroine. She's been repressed for years, bogged down by society's rules and regulations - their idea of how a lady should behave - and she's had enough. She's on the shelf anyway, so what does her reputation matter? The fact that she decided to forego all that and do what she wants is testament to her character - she's completely headstrong and stubborn and, to the people of the ton, really quite mad. She goes after what she wants without a care for how it will affect her reputation in the long run, instead choosing to enjoy herself and actually live her life. Despite her situation, she's an independent woman who will do anything to get what she wants, by any means necessary. Which is where Ralston comes in.

Ralston is a rake, well-known for his less than positive reputation. He beds women, gambles, avoids as many social events as possible and behaves as any unattached Marquess should. He's everything Callie has ever dreamed of for over a decade, but he doesn't even notice her until the day she strides into his bedchamber. He's much like Callie when it comes to character traits: he too is infuriatingly stubborn, so used to getting his way with everyone and everything. He has trouble with feelings thanks to an absent mother, making it difficult for him to really let anyone in. His development throughout the novel is so brilliantly written and realised, and he's a male lead I won't be forgetting in a hurry! Plus, he's ridiculously handsome with the ability to raise only one eyebrow. Sigh.

Another aspect of this book I enjoyed is the whole Regency setting. My best friend happens to be an Austen enthusiast, so I know a fair amount about that period in history. I still learnt a lot of stuff through reading this book - mostly about the ton and the rules of ladies and lords - and I really enjoyed it. It was a completely different, alien world back then, with different manners and ways of life. The men were proper and romantic, while the women were mostly focused on securing themselves a well-to-do husband. My, how times have changed!

Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake has opened my eyes to the world of historical regency romance and has left me with a strong yearning to read/watch Pride and Prejudice again. It's one of those novels that takes over your life while you're reading it and is, in my opinion, the best introduction to this genre you could hope for. I loved every single page of it and I can't wait to read the rest of Sarah MacLean's Love by Numbers series. I think she's created a new historical fiction fan!
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