First Published: 2010
Paperback & Kindle
Adult, Historical Romance
Re-Readability:When I re-read Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake at the beginning of 2017, I thought I'll just take my old review of this novel, clean it up a little and compare my original thoughts to this re-read and viola, I'll have a ready post. Kind of like instant noodles.
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.
So imagine my absolute surprise (and a bit of horror) to discover I had never reviewed this novel. Impossible! I thought to myself. How could I have never reviewed THE novel that made me fall madly in love with historical? There had to be a mistake. Only there wasn't one. Cue face palm and desk bang.
I will attempt to write a satisfactory review for this wonderful novel, that managed to tug at my every heartstring without seeming to be anything special at all at first glance.
The thing, or rather person, who alleviated this novel to me and made it one of the measuring scales for all other heroines after it is the main character, Callie Hartwell. Callie is me. She is the girl who reads a lot and isn't terribly beautiful and fantasizes about the day someone will think her beautiful. Someone will think her special. Someone will notice the woman she is and how much she has to offer. I felt her insecurity and her fear in me, like they were my own emotions
But unlike me, once she realizes that by all accounts, she is never going to get that--that she is far too old (in Victorian area times) and far too "boring" for anyone... well, she might as well have some fun. Do all the things she never let herself do. Be daring and brave... so that if no one else can call her interesting--she will always know that she is.
Callie Hartwell decides to become a doer. To say fuck you to all of the rules that have gotten her diddly squat and do something exciting.
And this is where Callie Hartwell stole my heart. Because she makes me think that if she can do it, all wrapped up in a society that doesn't think a woman can do anything, then so can I. I can be brave. I can be daring. I can do anything I've always dreamed of.
I cannot even begin to explain how powerful of a feeling this character gives me.
When I first read about her, I was a coward, connected to Callie by what might be. Today, I'm a lot more outspoken and unafraid, and a part of me things this is because of the seed of courage Callie installed in me. That voice in your head saying yes you can. If that's not something incredible to say about any novel, I don't know what is.
Now, after I prattled on and on about Callie, a bit about her choice in men. And what a yummy choice it is. Gabriel is that rake we love to read of so much - the one who is the most eligible bachelor of the ton, but also the one most rumored about. But there is more to Gabriel than that - he appreciates family above all, his bond to his twin is irrevocable, he is a responsible marquess if nothing else, and he has a dry sense of humor. My favorite kind.
Now, Gabriel must act at least somewhat reputable, bringing a bastard sister into the sharp folds of the ton, and who better teach her the ways than the one female he knows who doesn't have a blemish to her name; Callie.
So what if they met when she came to ask him for a kiss, in his bedroom, in the depth of the night. So what if he can't seem to stop thinking about her. So what if she thrills and scares him all at the same time. So what...
Their romance is scorching hot, people. You will need to fan yourself, repeatedly. You will also scream at them to do it already because god darn it, they are making you uncomfortable with all this sexual tension!
And can I also get a hallelujah for this couple talking to each other, and not letting any stupid misunderstandings come between them for more than a day? I mean, seriously, some book couples make it seem like "communication" is a crude word!!!
If I haven't made myself clear with this gashing (and highly personal) review... go read this novel if you like historical romances, or romances in general. I mean do it now. Go on... scoot!
(BTW - I literally read this two months ago and writing this review made me desperately want to pick up this novel again like, right now. What is my life.)