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.
This was absolutely amazing! I fell in love with Sarah MacLean's writing when I read her debut historical romance, Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake, and this book has sealed her as an auto-buy for me. This book is the third in the Love by Numbers series which focuses on a trio of siblings. The first two books featured the Ralston twins, Gabriel and Nicholas, while the third involves their Italian half-sister, Juliana. I adored everything about this book from the feisty (but not annoying) heroine to the seemingly cold hero to the sexual tension.
I have liked Juliana Fiori ever since she appeared in Nine Rules... and am excited that her book lived up the hype. She is a truly admirable heroine who showed her strength of character by traveling all the way to England to meet her brothers after her father's death. Then, after being accepted by her brothers and introduced to the ton, she tries to do her best to be a "proper lady" and make them proud of her. Of course, as so often happens, Juliana is looked down on for her Italian looks, accent, and tendency to always be in the wrong place at the wrong time. What I especially liked about Juliana was the fact that she took almost everything in stride and never let the ton see how unhappy and uncomfortable she was with the negative attention. It was a joy to watch her gain confidence in herself through the course of the book.
It takes a special hero to match up with a lady as fiery and unique as Juliana. Thankfully, Simon Pearson, Duke of Leighton, is as strong a character as his heroine. Simon is one of my guilty pleasure heroes: stoic, cold, and obsessed with propriety until that special lady comes along and turns his world upside down. Unlike Juliana, he is looked upon highly by the ton for his good looks, breeding, and manners. But, Simon has a secret that threatens his sterling reputation so he is on the hunt for a proper wife that will help soften the blow when the truth inevitably comes to light. Simon goes on an emotional journey in this book just like Juliana. He learns not to rely so much on what others think, how to live for himself, and how to find that one person who will stand by him regardless of what happens.
Besides the two leads, the best part of this book is the chemistry between them. The tension between Juliana and Simon is mindblowing and kept me turning pages up till the end. They have known each other for most of the Season and had a minor, secret flirtation early on. But, things really pick up when Juliana is discovered in Simon's carriage (through a series of coincidences) and cajoles him into giving her two weeks to prove that he is not immune to physical desire. This part of the book was a pure joy to read! Juliana and Simon are perfectly matched (despite their outward differences) and know just how to irk the other. There is a nice balance between the hot, spicy scenes and some romantic, tender ones that show their true feelings.
Overall, I found this be a thoroughly satisfying ending to an entertaining series. Juliana is one of my favorite romance heroines ever and Simon has definitely made his mark by making my book boyfriend list. Sarah MacLean outdoes herself with this story and I can't wait to see what she comes up with next! BTW, even though this is the third in a series, interested readers can definitely view this one as a stand-alone.
Favorite Quote: "You are beautiful and brilliant and bold and so very passionate about life and love and those things that you believe in. And you taught me that everything I believed, everything I thought I wanted, everything I had spent my life espousing--all of it...it is wrong. I want your version of life...vivid and emotional and messy and wonderful and filled with happiness. But I cannot have it without you." --Simon
Love By Numbers
1. Nine Rules To Break When Romancing a Rake
2. Ten Ways To Be Adored When Landing a Lord
3. Eleven Scandals To Start To Win a Duke's Heart