First thing though....are these just about the longest titles for romances? I get the gimmick but didn't think that the titles rolled off the tongue too well and are too difficult to remember when you are trying to talk to others about them. I also thought that by the end of the last book it had been overused a little bit by the time we go through Callie's list and Juliana's scandals amongst others.
If you are looking for something highly original in historical romance, then these books are probably not the best place to look. There are numerous tropes that abound throughout the books - arrogant dukes, wallflowers, to do lists are just some of them - but the thing about this series is that the tropes and cliches are done well, and therefore this reader is prepared to keep reading! If you start seeing the tropes and cliches and they are not written well, then that is when you lose readers.
The covers are pretty standard in terms of romance covers too, but I have to say I really didn't like the cover to the last book in the trilogy. It took me at least a couple of attempts to figure out the dress because the pink sash just looked not quite right.
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.When you are a wallflower, you really have two options. Most accept their status as fate, but Lady Calpurnia Hartwell has decided that she has followed society's rules for far too long and she is therefore going to have some fun. She creates a list of things she would like to do. Smoke a cheroot, fence, gamble are all on the list, as is engage in a passionate kiss.
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 . . .
Callie has long been in love with Gabriel St John so she chooses him to help her achieve her goals. St John, Marquess of Ralston has needs of his own. His family name has long been tainted with scandal, most especially because his mother abandoned her family years before. Now, the half Italian sister he didn't know he had has turned up on his doorstep and he needs someone to show her the ropes so that she can be introduced to society. He therefore proposes a trade - Callie gets her passionate kiss, he gets someone to teach his sister all that she needs to know about the ton.
Ralston finds himself drawn into Callie's adventures albeit after being initially mindful that he doesn't find his family linked to yet more scandal. More and more though he finds himself drawn to Callie herself even though he has long believed that he should not fall in love.
Funny, warm and romantic, I was glad that I already knew that there were two more books ready to be read!
“Lord Nicholas is a paragon of manhood.The name Nicholas St. John is on the list of every mother in the ton who has a daughter to be married off. Never mind that the Ralston family has a few scandalous secrets in it's past. Nick has a heroic reputation after his war service, is twin brother to a marquess, he is knowledgeable when it comes to antiques and he has an innate ability to find lost objects.
And his eyes, Dear Reader! So blue!”
Pearls & Pelisses, June 1823
Since being named “London’s Lord 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 she is 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.
When Simon Pearson, the Duke of Leighton, asks Nicholas St. John to find his wayward sister Georgiana, he jumps at the chance to escape from the unwanted attention of the ton. Nicholas tracks the girl to the home of Lady Isabel Townsend. To say that Isabel is distrustful of men is an understatement. The book opens with Isabel turning away yet another man who says her wastrel father sold her to him as a bride. Soon after however, we learn that Isabel's father has died, leaving an eight year old boy as his heir. The estate is falling apart, there is no money for repairs and Isabel has a houseful of people that she feels very responsible for.
She decides to sell of some of the collection of antiques to raise some cash and Nicholas agrees to value her statues (and yes, that might be a euphemism). He knows that there is something not quite right but he can't quite figure out what. Isabel is desperately trying to protect the secrets of Townsend Park and the inhabitants, protect her brother's title but she can't protect herself from loving Nicholas.
She lives for passion.If you were to draw a picture of what a young lady of the ton should be, you wouldn't end up with a picture of Juliana Fiori! No simpering miss here. Juliana is beautiful, she is outspoken, she is unconventional, her parentage is questionable - in short she is scandalous. And things get even worse for her when her runaway mother returns much to the derision of society.
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.
Simon, Duke of Leighton is doing everything he can to avoid scandal. There is enough hidden scandal in his family, and he really needs to get married to someone beyond reproach before his secret gets out, so why is it that he is drawn to Juliana like a moth to a flame. Even becoming engaged to the perfect ton girl is not enough to stop him from being attracted to Juliana.
Leighton is your quintessential cold fish duke, a man who believes that he doesn't need passion in his life. He does everything he can to ensure that his life is ordered, so when scandal touches his own family he is really unsure of how he should deal with it. This leads him to make decisions that I as a modern reader found difficult to fathom, particularly in relation to his sister. We see glimpses of the man underneath the ducal veneer but it is really only once this situation is somewhat resolved that this reader sees that it is possible for him to be the man that Juliana has seen him to be.
In terms of Juliana, she just can't seem to help herself from landing in trouble, whether it be ending up in a duke's coach at the end of a party, falling into a lake in Hyde Park...falling in love with a man who is engaged to another. Simon gives Juliana two weeks to try and prove to him that you can't live life without passion, but maybe it is Juliana who will learn that passion can often lead to love.
I now count myself as a fan of Sarah Maclean and can't wait to see what her next book brings. A Rogue by any Other Name is due out next February and I was really pleased to see that Penelope gets her turn to star in the next book! I am hoping that Georgiana will get her story in due course.