Book Review + TBR Discussion: Nine Rules to Break when Romancing a Rake

This book may be unsuitable for people under 17 years of age due to its use of sexual content, drug and alcohol use, and/or violence.
Book Review + TBR Discussion: Nine Rules to Break when Romancing a RakeNine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean
Series: Love By Numbers #1
Published by Avon on March 30, 2010
Genres: Adult, Historical, Romance
Pages: 432
Buy on Amazon

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.

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.

This is my first real regency/historical romance! And boy did I love love LOVE it. I literally could not put it down. I read it in one day.


Calpurnia “Callie” Hartwell: I do love a feisty heroine who suffers from self-doubt and a bit of naivete. Callie was so incredibly relatable; she is desperate to have more adventure in her life, and very willing to do ludicrous things (for the time) to get it, but she is also terrified every time she does. I loved that one of the things on her list was to feel beautiful. There were a lot of levels to her. She didn’t want to ruin her reputation, but she also couldn’t continue living as a spinster (she’s only 28 for goodness sakes).

Gabriel St. John, Lord Ralston: A rake through and through; we see him having trysts with multiple women in the first bit of the book.  And then Callie comes into his life. The change is not immediate, and in fact, he was quite irritated by her at the beginning. He is thoroughly likable from start to finish, even though, especially in the second half, he says some stupid things that get him in trouble. It was rather adorable to see him suddenly not understanding Callie, when women are an area of expertise for him.

Other notable characters include Nick St. John and Juliana, both siblings of Gabriel (and the main characters of the following two books). I didn’t quite trust Nick, though I really adored his humor and sweet nature toward Callie whenever he saw her. Juliana is fiery and I cannot wait to read a book where she’s the main character. Callie’s sister, Mariana, was also adorable, witty,  sweet and very fortunately engaged to a man who loves her. Anne, Callie’s maid, helps Callie with her adventures, mostly against her better judgment.


Callie is tired of being on the shelf and unable to have any adventure in her life. She wants to do things that men take for granted; things like drinking scotch, riding astride, gambling, things of that nature. She’s also been in love with Ralston for the past ten years, ever since running into him in a dark garden at a ball, and him being so devastatingly charming that she couldn’t forget the encounter, not even if she wanted to. With a reputation that probably couldn’t get any worse if he tried, he’s the ideal choice to help Callie with her list of adventures. Ralston reluctantly agrees, though only if Callie will oversee his newly appeared half-sister’s launch into society. No one would say that Callie is a catch (obviously, since she’s been overlooked for years and is now a 28 year old spinster) and only through getting to know her does Ralston see what no one else seems to. Callie is truly a wonder to behold.


So there’s a lot of sex in this book. A lot. Stay far away if that’s not your thing. I thought there was a bit too much, certainly in the first half. I think having it in the first half really took away from the power of the turning point about half way through. It didn’t seem as important as it could have been, had they simply kissed/made out before then. I guess it makes sense with Ralston’s character, as a rake, that he would take advantage of her, and since she’s been in love with him forever, she would let him.

Otherwise, I awwed my way through the development of their relationship, especially near the end when Ralston really began working through his feelings. They are an absolutely adorable pair, and I wish there was another book about them, because I would totally read it.

Nine Rules to Break when Romancing a Rake is funny, clever, romantic, and moves at a relentless speed. There was never a dull moment. Highly recommended for lovers of Regency Romance, or anyone interested in getting into the genre.

This book is Fulfilling the categories of “Impulse Read” on my TBR Challenge, as well as the “Published in 2000-2013” on my Full House Challenge.

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.