The more the outrageous the title of a historical romance the more inclined I am to enjoy reading it. This one was no exception. Lady Calpurnia has spent ten years as a retiring wallflower, a little plumper than the average debutante; she spends each dance with the matrons though she really loves to dance. At twenty seven, she’s never been kissed though she has secretly harbored a crush on Gabriel, the Duke of Ralston, ever since he long ago said a few kind words for her at a dismal party.
The aforementioned Duke has a dilemma on his hands in the form of a long lost sister, who shows up on his doorstep after her father’s death, in need of chaperoning and entre into society. Their mother’s questionable behavior makes a successful debut far from certain, so Ralston needs to find a woman of impeccable manners and breeding to sponsor his sister. Meanwhile, Lady Calpurnia draws up a list of all the things she would like to do in order to feel as if she has lived a little.
Nine Rules to Break When Romancing A Rake, is a fun break from the strictures of reality. Of course these two strike a bargain of mutual satisfaction, and fall in love along the way and in spite of themselves. Calpurnia helps Gabriel launch his sister and he helps her safely negotiate some of the more challenging items on her list – gambling, smoking cheroots, drinking scotch in public, and kissing passionately – to name just a few. Calpurnia and Gabriel are engaging characters who suffer a couple of bumps along the way to happily ever after, but I enjoyed their journey, and that of the charming supporting characters- Calpurnia’s sister and Gabriel’s brother and sister, to be specific.
MacLean is a talented writer and I loved the well rounded people and carefully considered story line. Plus, Calpurnia is a reader! So she talks about books. We like this, yes? This is wonderful escapist fare that I devoured over the course of a day. Recommended.