Like any good scientist, Pippa's done her research and Cross's reputation makes him perfect for her scheme. She wants science without emotion—the experience of ruination without the repercussions of ruination. And who better to provide her with the experience than this legendary man? But when this odd, unexpected female propositions Cross, it's more than tempting . . . and it will take everything he has to resist following his instincts—and giving the lady precisely what she wants.
Anybody who has read my blog on a consistent basis can figure out that I am a huge fan of historical romance. It was one of the first "adult" genres that I tried and I have been obsessed ever since. That being said, while I continue to love the genre and am always on the lookout for great books, I have found myself getting a little bored. There are moments where I feel like I have read every possible scenario and met every possible character in Regency/Victorian-era England. But, then I came across Sarah MacLean whose books are a breath of fresh air for me with their well-developed characters and their unique plotlines. And her latest, One Good Earl Deserves a Lover, is a great example of what I mean.
This book is the second in MacLean's Rules for Scoundrels series which focuses on the owners of London gambling club called The Fallen Angel. Each of the men has a reason for his association with the club and quite a few secrets in their past. The first book, A Rogue By Any Other Name, involved an outcast lord and the woman he had loved for ages. Now, the focus shifts to Cross, The Fallen Angel's mysterious bookkeeper, and Philippa Marbury, the daughter of a marquess who is thought to be odd by most of the ton.
I really enjoyed the way that MacLean developed both of the main characters. I was particularly fascinated by Pippa's scientific interests and how they shaped her view on the world and society. Like many women of her day, Pippa is expected to make a decent marriage and she goes along with these expectations. But, what makes this heroine unique is that she is determined not to go into her marriage without understanding every aspect of it including the sexual parts. I always love it when a heroine does something unexpected to throw off the reader and the hero and Pippa did just that with her proposition to Cross. It was also nice to see the way that Pippa balanced her duties and her desires as the storyline progressed.
Cross was a mysterious character who I enjoyed seeing slowly start to reveal himself to Pippa and his colleagues at The Fallen Angel. His past is pretty bleak and it has definitely shaped his character in both positive and negative ways. What I really loved was how fascinated Cross was by Pippa from the moment he saw her and how he really appreciated what a rare woman she was. He did have a few too many "I'm not worthy" moments that tortured heroes tend to have in romance novels, but it didn't really disrupt my enjoyment of the story enough to bring the rating down.
Since Cross and Pippa were not cookie-cutter Regency-era characters, it makes sense that their romance would go along with their unique personalities. The beginning was a little unconventional with Pippa asking Cross to teach her about sex in preparation for her marriage to another man, but it quickly escalated into something sweet and romantic. Both Cross and Pippa were lonely and were in need someone they could really relate to. It was also fun to read about a romance that was a nice combination of sugar and spice. Cross and Pippa had some pretty steamy scenes which balanced well with the development of the emotional relationship.
The secondary characters helped bring the story even more to life. Surprisingly, I really liked Pippa's fiance, Castleton, which is rare in historical romance. He was was a decent guy who was willing to do his duty, but also concentrated on what made Pippa happy. I really hope that MacLean writes his story someday even in a novella format. Readers also get to see more of The Fallen Angel and its workers. I love learning about the history of the club and seeing all of the inner workings that make it so successful. It is truly becoming a character of its own and I can't wait to see more of it.
Overall, I loved this book with its wonderfully unconventional heroine and stoic, mysterious hero. Sometimes the historical romance genre needs a swift kick to get it back to what I really fell in love with years ago and hopefully more writers will use MacLean as an example of how to do just that. Can't wait to read more in this series especially if we get to see the truth behind the brawny Temple who is thought to be a murderer!
Rules of Scoundrels
1. A Rogue By Any Other Name
2. One Good Earl Deserves a Lover
3. No Good Duke Goes Unpunished (Coming August 2013)
BOOK CHALLENGE ENTRY