Nine Rules to Break when Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean is not my favorite of her books by far. There I said it. However, I ventured over to her website and discovered this was one of her very early books, so I cut her some slack.
Here’s what you should know about Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake before you read it.
This is a Good Book
That is an entirely subjective title that I don’t use lightly. I want to be very clear that this is a good book with great characters and lots of tugs on the ol’ heart strings. My issue with it is that I read MacLean’s later works first, and those are grab you by the throat and throw you against the wall amazing. So the difference between her new work and this book is enough to leave you going – huh?
I loved this heroine, and I hated her, and that’s how you know she’s well written. She is a plump, plain wallflower, so if you like wallflower historical romance, this book is for you. Callie overhears her sister’s betrothed call her passive, and this infuriates the spinster into creating a list of things she wishes to experience now that she is on the shelf.
The list is just as sinful and decadent as one would hope.
First thing on the list is, of course, a kiss from the most notorious rake in all of London.
No wallflower historical romance is complete without a really good rake we love to hate. Gabriel St. John, Lord Ralston, does not disappoint. He has eschewed love because his mother ran away and broke his father’s heart. He swears never to love, but that doesn’t stop him from helping Callie with her list.
I use the term helping loosely if you know what I mean.
The Part That Annoyed Me
My dear readers you will find an extraordinary amount of head hopping in Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake. This is such a critical faux pas I didn’t believe it was really happening until well into the book. But as I was reading, I kept finding myself jarred from the narrative, so I examined the paragraphs more closely. Sure enough we went from one point of view character to a different one as we traversed through each paragraph.
This is a big no-no in my book as it disrupts the reader from the narrative. I was shocked to see a skilled artisan like MacLean doing it, and this is what prompted me to go look on her website. There I discovered it was an earlier book, and I forgave her. Head hopping is okay if you’re just starting out, but I’ll warn you it does interrupt your experience of this story.
The plot focuses on Callie completing her list and helping Ralston launch is semi-illegitimate half sister into London society. The plot gives the opportunity for all of those clandestine moments wrought with the tension of potential discovery that we crave. It didn’t quite reach the level of connecting the characters to the actions they were committing the way her other books do, but I was still along for the ride.
Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake is a great book for all wallflower historical romance readers. Callie was just the kind of wallflower we love, and Ralston was just the kind of hero to love her. But please don’t let this deter you from reading MacLean’s other works. She is absolutely one of my must read authors, and I know you will find her later books just as heart stopping as I do.
If you’re looking for more wallflower historical romance, check out this book by yours truly.