One Good Earl Deserves a Lover by Sarah MacLean

Girl meets boy. Girl asks boy to ruin her. Boy refuses. Boy gives in.

I’ve read about 140 romance novels in the past year, and attempted another two or three dozen. I feel depressingly confident in saying that I’ve read all the good ones. At least, all the good ones that I can get my hands on, as I am unwilling to pay $7.99 each to purchase an author’s out of print backlog as it spills into Amazon’s Kindle stock.  This means I do a lot of three things:

  1. Wait for the good authors to release new books.
  2. Take a chance on new authors on Amazon.
  3. Try random library books with titles like:                                                                                 If You Give a Girl a Viscount                                                                                                Sex and the Single Earl                                                                                                  Cloudy with a Chance of Marriage

Between the awful titles and covers, the publishers really do manage to convey what they think of their extremely profitable readership. This book has an awful title, too. I don’t blame the author. I’m sure she would have preferred something less excruciating.

One Good Earl Deserves a Lover is the second book in Sarah MacLean’s Regency Rule of Scoundrels series. Each book features one of four displaced lords who run a notorious, and therefore extremely fashionable and popular, gaming club called The Fallen Angel. The first book, A Rogue By Any Other Name, introduced the gentlemen, and told Bourne and Penelope’s story. That book was good, but the hero suffered from a prolonged case of Head Up Posterior. This book is much better, lovely in fact. It picks up exactly where the Epilogue of the last book left off. I love it when they do that!

Pippa Marbury is getting married in two weeks. She is a woman of insatiable intellectual curiosity and as such is extremely inquisitive about what to expect on her wedding night. Instead of doing the logical thing and throwing herself at her very nice, very boring fiance, she approaches a notorious rake to provide the “ruination” she seeks; however, Cross is not actually the roue he appears to be, so he naturally/correctly/wisely refuses Pippa’s request, but he doesn’t really want to. Hijinks ensue.

Cross (Jasper, Earl Something) is likeable, fiercely intelligent, and kind, a quietly tortured hero. He’s also a redhead which is extraordinarily unusual for heroes in the genre; what’s more, he’s tall and he gangles (H/T Douglas Adams). The men in these books are never short, but at 6’6″ Cross, dwarves Pippa. I’ve complained about the practicalities of height differences before. These are details that occur to me while reading romance novels and break my otherwise extraordinarily willing suspension of disbelief. What does absurdly tall Cross do when he wants to kiss Pippa? He picks her up, they both sit down, he kneels in front of her. Not in swooping romantic gestures, but simply as a practicality. It’s small details like this that make Sarah MacLean the writer she is and put her on my autobuy list. I’m so grateful for the effort to keep things logical.

Pippa is bespectacled and bookish. She’s odd. An intellectual at a time when such efforts would have been barred to her, she’s also rich and has disinterested parents, and thus free to follow her scientific interests. I don’t normally latch on to the heroines as much as the heroes, but I loved Pippa and related to her strongly.  Her insistent uniqueness was really endearing. Pippa knows she’s unusual, she always has been, and while she doesn’t necessarily like it, she embraces it as who she is. In my family, speaking in a clever and complicated way is seen as a game. As a result, I tend to sound like a Gilmore Girl by way of Katharine Hepburn. It’s not a good thing. It’s a thing I was mocked for as a child and a thing that I still constantly try to temper in my everyday life: Don’t be too clever, don’t use words people might not know, don’t be too enthusiastic, don’t talk too quickly, don’t use references. I loved Pippa for being herself in a way I don’t often feel I’m allowed to be. Defiantly so. Defiantly curious, defiantly intellectual, defiantly demanding what she wants and needs, and being rewarded for it with a lovely man who genuinely understands, cares for, and delights in her.

And now I can go read Malin’s review of this book and see if we agree. We usually do.

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