Reviewed by Sandra Scholes
For Lady Philippa Marbury reading books and indulging in science is preferable to parading around at society balls in the latest fashionable gowns. She is intelligent and wise beyond her young years, and knows what she wants from a man, even though she is engaged to Lord Castleton. Philippa isn't cut out for marriage, she has her life to live, and takes it upon herself to find the perfect man who could take her to the parts of London that no serious lady would ever dare to explore, Cross. He is the man who is tall, dark and devilishly handsome with a quick wit and a rakish manner. He is also the bookkeeper of the Fallen Angel, London's infamous gambling establishment.
Cross is a legend around London, and also known for his numerous affairs with women, so Philippa could hardly resist asking Cross to 'ruin' her as she does not want to go into the marriage bed with her husband unaware of what will happen. Cross, of course thinks she is insane to ask him to do that to her when he could also get into trouble with her brother-in-law. Cross views Lord Castleton as a young dandy with nothing resembling brains between his ears, and thinks Philippa and he would be miss matched. Not that he can do anything about it, even though deep down as lovely a woman as she is, he would like to.
Cross is reluctant to help her with her research into the bedroom arts needed after a marriage, but as it is only research, and she will keep the matter a secret, he might indulge Philippa's 'madness.' She is well aware that she could not ask her mother or her sisters about sex within marriage, but Philippa wants to be prepared for what will happen between the sheets with her and her husband. She liked Cross from the moment she came through and saw him laid on the floor half naked. As a gaming man, he decides to let chance decide on whether he should help her, and in one roll of the dice, if it is in her favour, he will tell her all she needs to know.
As the second Rules of Scoundrels novel it reads as good as the previous one with the added bonus of a strong heroine, and a dashingly rakish, but trying not to be hero. Cross finds it hard not to succumb to Philippa's advances, and soon finds he is putty in her hands. Sarah MacLean deserves recognition for writing a top notch romp from pre-Victorian times where her heroine is as daring as the hero.
Things I liked about the book:
- At the beginning of each chapter there is an excerpt from "The Scientific Journal of Lady Philippa Marbury," which contains some hilarious insights into her psyche.
- Lady Philippa's one-liners in response to Cross - they are delightful.
- Lady Philippa referring to Lord Castleton as being unintelligent and rather dull, which gives the reader a good enough reason why she would want to be with Cross instead.
This is the second novel from the Rule of Scoundrels series, and is also the author of A Rogue by Any Other Name. If you haven't yet encountered a real page turner, then this will be the perfect introduction into the way a period novel should be written.