Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake—Sarah MacLean

"Lord Ralston," Callie said, eyes flashing with unbridled anger, "you appear to be laboring under the misapprehension that I am in some way beholden to your whims. Allow me to set you to rights. You may be able to direct your servants and your family as you see fit, but I fall into neither of those categories. And while I may be a plain, missish, passive creature, I am through with being ordered about by you. I am leaving." (223)

Part of Vaginal Fantasy Rewind

I had to take a little break from the VF Rewind books to read something else, because I was just getting so frustrated with every scenario—it was definitely a sign to pause for a minute.

But I'm back!

In this period romance, Calpurnia Hartwell is a spinster at twenty-eight (of course), who decides that she's finally going to stop focusing on her reputation and live a little. Callie creates a list of nine things that she wants to experience, and number one on the list is be kissed passionately. And she knows exactly who she wants to help her with that particular task—Gabriel, the Marquess of Ralston, who she's been in love with since he was kind to her during her first season in society, lo those ten years ago. Not above a little quid pro quo, Ralston concedes to her unconventional request if she agrees to help sponsor and train his newly found half-sister Juliana to be ready to be introduced to society. Callie's reputation and esteem are exactly what Ralston needs in order to help Juliana be accepted. What Ralston doesn't count on is that he will develop even stronger feelings for Callie, much to his chagrin considering his general aversion to the idea of love as a result of watching his parents relationship crash and burn.

Oh boy. This is definitely a bodice ripper, if ever I've encountered one. There were some very racy scenes, for sure. And just look at this image on the inside cover.

But beyond that, and despite the cheesy title, I actually liked it.

I've read a lot of other female protagonists in books like this that I didn't find nearly as charming as Callie. I appreciated that she called Ralston out when he was being demanding or dictatorial (although I did sometimes find her a bit more forgiving than I would have been). It was nice to see a kind of subtly feminist character, especially one who is just discovering what freedom means for her, and how freedom is different for men and women of her society. I think it made Callie more realistic that she wasn't entirely self-possessed all the time. She had doubts, and she didn't always hold herself in high esteem. Who among us has not suffered thus?

Ralston was jealous but not overly possessive. I didn't love him as a character, and was overall more compelled by Callie and Mariana and Juliana and Nick. But he was indulgent of Callie and seemed to understand her and appreciate her for all that she was, even though it wasn't what society deemed acceptable or what he had thought he would be interested in.

I do find the whole miscommunication or misunderstanding thing overdone in books like this. I mean, do people have miscommunications or misunderstandings that completely mess things up in real life? Absolutely. I just find they're rarely things as trivial—that are massively exaggerated—as they are in books like this, merely to create conflict. I think there are other avenues to creating conflict. Or maybe that's just wishful thinking, and I hope that people are more communicative and open with each other in real life.

Also, I don't know if this is true for all versions of this book, but the copy I got from the library has an excerpt for this book IN THE BOOK. Classic.

Moving right along! Eleven down, twenty-one to go!!
The ladies didn't talk much about Nine Rules...during the Hangout, since it was the alt pick. (Desperate Duchesses was the main.) But amusing as always, nonetheless.

Have you read any books in this genre with obstacles or conflicts that were completely inflated in what seemed a ridiculous manner? Or am I too optimistic about our communication skills these days?

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