Book one of the Rule of Scoundrels series saw one of the Marbury sisters married off to one of the notorious owners of the gambling club, the Fallen Angel. One Good Earl Deserves a Lover by Sarah MacLean follows a similar plotline, but this time focuses on the strangest Marbury sibling and her thirst for knowledge.
Philippa Marbury is engaged to married to Earl Castleton in two weeks time, which leaves her just two weeks to learn the intricacies of what goes on in the marriage bed. She classes herself as a scientist and has studied the anatomy on the matter, but is yet to grasp the specifics of how to please a husband. With only two weeks to go, she is running out of options and has no-one she can turn to – it would be too embarrassing to approach her sisters and too improper to proposition anyone in society. Instead, she thinks it best to ask Cross, a part-owner of the Fallen Angel who is rumoured to be an especially proficient lover.
Needless to say, Cross is unprepared when this strange female asks him to teach her about the physicalities of love, and is utterly against agreeing with her proposal. He refuses to ruin her, instead challenging her to a wager – if he wins then she cannot continue with her scientific endeavour, but if she wins then he will consent. Of course, as the owner of a gambling club he knows how to stack the odds in his favour, with Pippa inevitably losing. What ensues are a number of amusing scenes as she tries to accost other people at the club, notably seeking out a prostitute to question about the details.
Cross reaches the end of his tether and cannot bear the thought of anyone teaching Pippa about ruination than himself. However, he is scared to get too close to her, especially with her impending nuptials and the threat she poses to his solitary existence. Regardless of how he feels about her, he has his own problems to deal with in the form of rival club owner Digger Knight, who is determined to use Cross’s past and his status against him to get what he wants, no matter the cost.
I loved the character of Philippa Marbuy, as she was funny, unafraid to speak her mind and totally inept in social situations. She was the strange one out of her sisters, as she has more interest in science and anatomy than in balls and dresses, with her marriage being a matter of convenience rather than love. Whilst both she and her fiancé respect each other, it is clear that they have little in common and there is no chemistry between them. Despite this, Pippa always tries to keep her word, and is a firm believer in the truth over dishonesty, which often places her at odds with Cross and the values his club represents. I really enjoyed seeing her scientific mind, especially as she tries to interpret everything around her in terms of logic, seeing loopholes in Cross’s wagers.
Cross, on the other hand, was an intriguing character that was clearly running from something in his past. We are given a brief insight into this in the very first flashback chapter, but when we learn his secret at the end of the book it explains a lot about him. He is not all he appears to be, and I liked how haunted he is by temptation, but at the same time refuses to give himself over to it. Pippa is the complete opposite from the women he associates with in the club, and I loved how MacLean kept me on edge as I was never one hundred percent sure if he would give in to his desires.
The relationship between the pair blossoms slowly over the course of the book, but at the same time, when given the time scale of two weeks, it was also a whirlwind romance. I liked how much Pippa and Cross had in common, regardless of their opposing social circles, as she is a scientist and he a mathematician. It takes each of them a while to realise that they are in love, and I did think that the book took too long to reach the first kiss scene. I was anticipating this a lot earlier, but afterwards the atmosphere between the pair was hot and steamy and I had to keep reading on.
I enjoyed the plot of the book, as Pippa is full of knowledge and yet totally naïve, with the same being true of Cross. They are both hiding their true motives and often forget the importance of their reputations, with scandal being a constant threat. When we first meet Knight, I was unprepared for how much of an antagonist he would become, and at one point I couldn’t see how Cross would escape his impossible gamble and truly earn his freedom. I was hooked, and easily devoured each page as I watched the relationship develop.
MacLean’s writing style was fun and frivolous, and I am really enjoying seeing each of the Fall Angel owners succumb to a women’s touch. The book ends with the hint that Temple will be next, but with all the Marbury siblings now paired off, I’m at a loss as to who his match will be! I’m looking forward to finding out, as the romances in this series so far have been well-developed. The only point I will make about this book is that it seemed a bit drawn out, as the action could have happened much sooner. Regardless of this, the conclusion was exciting and amusing, and I really liked how all of the loose ends relating to both Pippa and Cross were tied up.
I loved this addition to the Rule of Scoundrels series as Philippa Marbury was a breath of fresh air as a heroine. Her scientific knowledge made her stand out as an oddball, but this was a redeeming feature and I loved seeing her interactions with Cross. Both have need of each other, having a chemical attraction formulating a true love match.
BOOKS IN SERIES ORDER
- A Rogue by Any Other Name
- One Good Earl Deserves a Lover
- No Good Duke Goes Unpunished
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