Eleven Scandals to Start to win a Duke’s Heart by Sarah MacLean (Love by Numbers #3)
April 26, 2011
Reviewed by Mandi
Favorite Quote: “You are a scandal waiting to happen.
Although this is the third book in the trilogy, it’s the first I read and it works perfectly as a stand alone. This book is so well written, I don’t see how it won’t capture your heart.
Simon, Duke of Leighton or nicknamed the “Duke of Disdain” made my insides flutter. He is the cold, impenetrable duke who lives his life as he was raised – emotionless and bred for his title. His lineage is perfect and he portrays the perfect duke. But he has a secret (one I’m not going to spoil)– and because of this, he must marry the perfect duchess before this secret comes out to the ton. So he sets his eyes upon Lady Penelope, who has an unblemished reputation although there is no romance between them.
But there is a vibrant force in his world that refuses to go away. Juliana Fiori has no title, only a marquess for a brother. From Italy, her mother is a former marchioness who left her titled English husband and two sons and married an Italian merchant, resulting in Juliana. Then, her mother ran out on her, leaving her with her father. Now that her father has passed, she is forced to seek out her half brothers back in England for guardianship. All of this has resulted in a great scandal surrounding Juliana. She is invited to ton events because of her brothers, but the gossip mill is running in full force. She also doesn’t have the proper etiquette of the English ton and speaks her mind quite loudly. When she first meets Simon, he is led to believe she is titled, and a proper lady and he is immediately enamored. But when he finds out who she really is, the daughter of a runaway Marchioness, he is offended. He can’t be seen with the likes of her. But she won’t go away.
He is drawn to her. Attracted to her. And little by little, she breaks down his façade. Juliana is just a fabulous heroine. She has a slight language barrier that has her using the wrong words in certain situations which is very charming.
“He called me a pie!” She announced, defensively. There was a pause. “Wait. That’s not right.”
“Yes! That’s it!” She registered her brother’s fists and looked to Simon. “I see that it is not a compliment.”
It was hard for him to hear over the roaring in his ears. He’d like to take a fist to the man himself. “No. It is not.”
She keeps finding herself thrown into these situations that embarrass her, and keep her the talk of the season which is humorous. Simon wants to ignore her and pretend she doesn’t exist, but by chance and a little planning on Juliana’s part, she becomes part of his life. And we are treated to these little tidbits from their conscious throughout the book that I love:
Desire slammed through him hard and fast, and he stiffened at the blinding emotion. He did not want her. She was a madwoman.
A stunning, goddess of a madwoman.
He cleared his throat.
What I love is that both Simon and Juliana become so frustrated with their station in life. As they are reminded endlessly, “Reputation triumphs.” Simon has a duty, not only being an esteemed duke but to hide this family secret from the public. And Juliana was born into a scandal and that leaves her no leeway in the eyes of the public. She is terrified of becoming her mother, and lives her life finding herself in endless scandals that exhaust her. They both have accepted their fate, but this yearning for the other starts to take over their lives. It is done with such an exquisite, sensual tone by Sarah MacLean – to the point you are not going to want to put down this book. You have to keep reading to see how these two overcome society to be together. Plus you have to read for the very smexy love scenes:
This kiss was an exploration.
It sought and found, chased and captured. It was a kiss that suggested they had an eternity during which to learn each other, and when his tongue ran roughsmooth across her bottom lip, sending wave after wave of sensation rocketing through her, she hoped they did have an eternity. Surely it would take that long for her to tire of this. Of him. She gasped at the feel of him, so powerful, so wicked.
The dialog is fast and witty, the romance is intense and the characters are vibrant and sexy. One of the best romances I have read this year.