Series Review: Love by Numbers by Sarah MacLean

Series Review: Love by Numbers by Sarah MacLeanNine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean
Series: Love by Numbers #1
Published by Avon on March 30, 2010
Genres: Historical, Romance
Pages: 422
Format: eBook
Source: Library
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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.

Sarah MacLean came really highly recommended when I got obsessed with Tessa Dare. As such, my expectations were massively high, so, while I very much enjoyed Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake, it wasn’t quite as funny, voicey and awesome as I hoped.

My favorite aspect of Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake is the premise. Callie, short for the mouthful of a moniker Calpurnia, has been relegated to the shelf, a 28 year-old spinster. Unlike the woman on the cover, Callie’s plump and doesn’t fit with the current fashions. To make matters worse, her style-challenged mother put her in the current styles, which did nothing to flatter Callie, and in terrible colors.

Callie’s characterization didn’t feel quite perfect to me at times, but one thing I really liked about her was how horny she was. In most historical romance novels, the women really don’t have any clue at all about sex and they’re shocked by all of it. Callie’s pretty much up for it and she’s been constructing sexual fantasies in her head for ages. She doesn’t know everything, but she’s horny af, and it’s awesome.

Callie does veer a bit between prim and proper and incredibly outspoken. That’s the arc here, that she’s letting her true self have free reign for the first time, but it just felt a bit off at points. I can’t say precisely where, but I just didn’t always have the strongest sense of who Callie was. I love the list-making Callie a lot, and the fact that she just completely stops giving a fuck.

Callie and Gabriel aren’t a strong ship for me. I like them, but I didn’t get massive feels. They don’t banter enough to really get me going, but they’ve got a nice connection. I do like how open they are with each other, and the fact that he signs on to help her accomplish her inappropriate list without too much fussing. Also, I knocked the rating up from 3 to 3.5 for the fact that, once Gabriel is into Callie and knows that, he pursues her even when he fucks up. When she tries to push him away, he stays and is like “no, you are going to listen to me.” Not in a creepy way but in a “let’s use our words and communicate like adults” way. Romance novel characters often suck at frank communication, and I appreciate that the plot didn’t do the typical “and then they broke up for months” thing. They worked through their issues in a timely fashion.

There are elements of humor, like the fencing scene and the whole just-the-right-amount-of-melodramatic ending. The book does feel long, though. There’s no reason for it to be quite so massive. The early chapters dragged a bit. Until the ship really kicks in, it was pleasant but not unputdownable. The moments with siblings were really sweet, though. I really appreciated how close Callie and her sister were, rather than being at odds.

I will warn you, though, that the sex in this book is not particularly good. On the plus side, Gabriel totally focuses on Callie’s pleasure, and he goes down on her before letting her go down on him. Callie also very much takes the lead in deciding to do the sex. On the down side, there’s so much “laving.” Like, dear god is that not a sexy word. Plus, MacLean’s really into the hero asking the heroine what she wants during the first actual sex and it’s so awkward and I suspect she generally wouldn’t know precisely. There was also some absurd description that I laughed at a lot, but I sadly failed to mark the page.

MacLean’s definitely fun, and the recommendation was on point, though I had my standards set a smidgen too high.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

Series Review: Love by Numbers by Sarah MacLeanTen Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord by Sarah MacLean
Series: Love by Numbers #2
Published by Avon on October 26, 2010
Genres: Historical, Romance
Pages: 384
Format: eBook
Source: Library
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“Lord Nicholas is a paragon of manhood. And his eyes, Dear Reader! So blue!” Pearls & Pelisses, June 1823

Since being named on of London’s “Lords to Land” by a popular ladies’ magazine, Nicholas St. John has been relentlessly pursued by every matrimony-minded female in the ton. So when an opportunity to escape fashionable society presents itself, he eagerly jumps—only to land in the path of the most determined, damnably delicious woman he’s ever met!

The daughter of a titled wastrel, Lady Isabel Townsend has too many secrets and too little money. Though used to taking care of herself quite handily, her father’s recent passing has left Isabel at sea and in need of outside help to protect her young brother’s birthright. The sinfully handsome, eminently eligible Lord Nicholas could be the very salvation she seeks.

But the lady must be wary and not do anything reckless…like falling madly, passionately in love.

Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord improves on its predecessor. Nick and Isabel make an adorable couple. I like their dynamic a lot, because he’s less of an alpha male/rake type. They work together and establish trust, and they have some adorable banter at times. I totally got the shippy feels from this one. Also, the chapter starters of historical dating advice are hysterical.

What really made Ten Ways to Be Adored stand out was the fact that Lady Isabel, daughter of an earl who left the family impoverished, has decided to use the fairly limited resources at her disposal to create a safe refuge for women. There are no servants at “Minerva House,” as she calls it. The women who live there all chip in and do their part, titled or not. They genderbend to create the illusion of men around for the times when outsiders show up. It’s super awesome.

Another plus to Ten Ways to Be Adored is that Nick has a Turkish best friend, who goes by Rock (Durukhan being hard for the English to pronounce properly). Some of the Turkish back story is a bit questionable admittedly. Still, it’s rare to find diversity in historical romance, and Rock’s a delightful character. And I love that he gets a ship of his own.

The sex scenes continue to be not the best, though MacLean’s descriptions calm down. There’s only one instance of “laving.” Ten Ways to Be Adored also engages in the classic misunderstanding trope where the heroine says to someone else that she doesn’t love the hero because she’s lying to herself and he overhears and then leaves her blah blah tragic separation. I hate this trope. The resolution of it is cute, and at least it only lasts a few days rather than months but it just felt forced for plot’s sake and not particularly like something these two would actually do.

Partway into book three, I can already tell this one will be my favorite of the trilogy. It’s definitely the shippiest.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:


Series Review: Love by Numbers by Sarah MacLeanEleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke's Heart by Sarah MacLean
Series: Love by Numbers #3
Published by Avon on April 26, 2011
Genres: Historical, Romance
Pages: 367
Format: eBook
Source: Library
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There is no telling where a scandal might lead...

She lives for passion.

Bold, impulsive, and a magnet for trouble, Juliana Fiori is no simpering English miss. She refuses to play by society’s rules: she speaks her mind, cares nothing for the approval of the ton, and can throw a punch with remarkable accuracy. Her scandalous nature makes her a favorite subject of London’s most practiced gossips…and precisely the kind of woman the Duke of Leighton wants far far away from him.

He swears by reputation.

Scandal is the last thing Simon Pearson has room for in his well-ordered world. The Duke of Disdain is too focused on keeping his title untainted and his secrets unknown. But when he discovers Juliana hiding in his carriage late one evening–risking everything he holds dear–he swears to teach the reckless beauty a lesson in propriety.

She has other plans, however; she wants two weeks to prove that even an unflappable duke is not above passion.

Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke’s Heart was a disappointing conclusion to an otherwise fun series.

Up to this point, I’d really enjoyed Juliana in the prior books. I was actually looking forward to her romance with Leighton, in fact. They very much could have had a P&P vibe, considering their initial moment of flirtation followed by Leighton’s coldness and propriety when he realized she wasn’t of high enough status for him. Unfortunately, they have a purely physical connection. They don’t banter or really interact about anything but their physical need for each other. Leighton attributes changes in his personality to her, but it’s more like he changed so he would have an excuse to do what he wanted with his penis.

Also, on a side note, I hate that every single Italian historical romance heroine is the same damn character. She’s always scandalous, fiery-tempered, lush, and exoticised. Prior to this book, Juliana bantered adorably with family and friends, but that almost entirely disappears. MacLean had done really well with the family and friend relationships prior, but there’s too much focus on this inferior ship.

To be fair, the book does improve at the very end, when Leighton finally and suddenly decides to stand up to his mother and follow his heart. It’s a fairly satisfying conclusion if only it hadn’t followed on the heels of the two of them kissing/hooking up and then Leighton treating her like garbage. This story would have worked so much better if Leighton wasn’t engaged to another woman and without the whole plot about his sister.

It’s a shame that I didn’t enjoy this one, but, as a whole, I was impressed with a lot about MacLean’s writing. I’ll definitely be reading more of her books at some point.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:


One response to “Series Review: Love by Numbers by Sarah MacLean”

  1. The first book in this series has been on my TBR for quite some time but it’s too bad the last one didn’t work out too well. A Rogue by Any Other Name sounds really good too.
    Bonnie @ For the Love of Words recently posted…Stacking the Shelves (161)My Profile

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