Tag Archives: sarah maclean

My Favourite/Favorite Romance Novel Couples

There are books and novellas that I recommend. There are novels I loathed.

This list is my favourite romance novel couples and there is a separate one for my favourite heroes and heroines as individual characters. If I put them in order, I’d never get this list published, so they aren’t.

If you’re uncertain, I suggest leaning towards the couples list for a starting point.

Balogh, Mary Slightly Dangerous CLASSIC
Bowen, Sarina Blonde Date novella  CLASSIC
Bowen, Sarina and Elle Kennedy Him
Bryce, Megan To Tame a Dragon
Chase, Loretta Dukes Prefer Blondes  – LOVE THEM
Cole, Kresley Dark Desires After Duska guilty pleasure THUNDER SEX™!
Dare, Tessa One Dance with a Duke
Dare, Tessa Any Duchess Will Do
Duran, Meredith Fool Me Twice
Florand, Laura All’s Fair in Love and Chocolate
Florand, Laura The Chocolate Kiss
Florand, Laura The Chocolate Touch – Top 5 romance and couple
Florand, Laura The Chocolate Heart Whoops! One of my least favourite couples.
Florand, Laura Chase Me
Gabaldon, Diana Outlander  OBVIOUSLY, plus the series
Garwood, Julie The Gift – Old School
Hoyt, Elizabeth The Ice Princess
Kelly, Carla The Lady’s Companion
Kelly, Carla Marrying the Captain
Kennedy, Elle The Deal
Kinsale, Laura Flowers from the Storm
Kleypas, Lisa Dreaming of You
Kleypas, Lisa Where Dreams Begin
Kleypas, Lisa Again the Magic
Kleypas, Lisa Secrets of a Summer Night
Kleypas, Lisa The Devil in Winter 
Kleypas, Lisa Love in the Afternoon
Lauren, Christina Beautiful Player
Lauren, Christina Dirty Rowdy Thing
Linden, Caroline One Night in London
Long, Julie Anne Like No Other Lover
Long, Julie Anne What I Did for a Duke  CLASSIC
Long, Julie Anne A Notorious Countess Confesses 
MacLean, Sarah One Good Earl Deserves a Lover
McNaught, Judith Almost Heaven  OLD SCHOOL
Milan, Courtney The Duchess War
Milan, Courtney The Suffragette Scandal  IF YOU READ ONLY ONE…
Parker, Lucy Act Like It
Phillips, Susan Elizabeth Natural Born Charmer
Quinn, Julia An Offer from a Gentleman
Quinn, Julia Romancing Mr. Bridgerton
Quinn, Julia It’s In His Kiss
Reid, Penny Neanderthal Seeks Human
Reid, Penny Beauty and the Mustache
Spencer, LaVyrle Vows
Thorne, Sally The Hating Game CLASSIC
Willig, Lauren The Seduction of the Crimson Rose 

Links to my other reviews can be found on my complete reading list of books sorted by author or Author Commentary & The Tallies Shameful or my  streamlined recommendations list.



So You Want to Read a (Historical, Contemporary, New Adult, Paranormal) Romance …

Alternatively: The Worst Romance Novels I Have Ever Read

This recommendations list is gleaned from at least 80 authors and over 500 books.

Ten Great Romance Novellas to Get You Started

Looking for something specific? Here’s a list of authors I’ve read enough to see thematic consistencies and it’s hard to go wrong with these writers:

Tessa Dare – FUN, bring your willing suspension of disbelief, on double-secret probation right now
Laura Florand – contemporary romances set in France, great intensity
Talia Hibbert – contemporary romances set in England
Carla Kelly – lovely Regency romances, often military-themed
Lisa Kleypas  – the gold standard, also writes contemporaries
Julie Anne Long – extremely clever and funny
Courtney Milan – The very best currently publishing, one for the pantheon.
Lucy Parker – great romance, great fun
Julia Quinn – An excellent place to launch your reading. Start with The Bridgertons.
Sally Thorne – Only two books, but the linked one is a CLASSIC!

I lovehate Jennifer Ashley’s sincere romance mired in tortured heroes and overwrought plotting.

This list is an edited version of my Complete Reading List by Author. Reviewed books are linked.

Mallory, a frequent commenter, asked me to make a personal Top 5 list. I tried. I couldn’t do it.


  1. Balogh, Mary Slightly Dangerous – historical
  2. Bowen, Sarina Blonde Date  – new adult novella
  3. Chase, Loretta Lord of Scoundrelshistorical
  4. Gabaldon, Diana Outlanderhistorical
  5. Heyer, Georgette Venetia (Dameral/Venetia) – historical
  6. Jenkins, Beverly Indigo  – historical
  7. Kinsale, Laura Flowers from the Storm old school, historical
  8. Kleypas, Lisa Dreaming of Youhistorical
  9. Kleypas, Lisa The Devil in Winter  – historical
  10. Long, Julie Anne What I Did for a Duke – historical
  11. Milan, Courtney A Kiss for Midwinter – historical novella
  12. Milan, Courtney The Suffragette Scandal  – historical
  13. Montgomery, L.M. The Blue Castle – historical now, but not when published
  14. Quinn, Julia Romancing Mr. Bridgerton  Bridgerton Book 4 – historical
  15. Thorne, Sally The Hating Game – contemporary

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The Complete Reading List by Author

Short Version: Recommended books are in bold, reviewed books are linked, these are ruthlessly streamlined recommendations lists –

So You Want to Read a (Historical) Romance
Ten Great Romance Novellas to Get You Started
Plus just for funsies: The Worst Romance Novels I Have Ever Read

I have more content based lists over there on the right  –>

Annual Reading Tallies & Author Commentary 2012 – 2017
On reading romance: Emotional Version and Pseudo-Intellectual Version.

My AUTOBUY List (Links Will Take You to a Summary of the Author’s Catalogue)
Tessa Dare (on probation right now actually)
Laura Florand Though she stopped publishing.
Talia Hibbert
Lisa Kleypas   The Queen for a very long time. Her back catalog is very deep and strong.
Julie Anne Long  Historicals only
Courtney Milan  The. Very. Best.
Lucy Parker Delightful. witty contemporaries
Sally Thorne Because her debut was just that good!

Albert, Annabeth Waiting for Clark (Bryce/Clark)
Albert, Annabeth Save the Date (Randall/Hunter)
Alexander, R.G. Ravenous novella (Declan/Trick/Jennifer)
Alexander, Victoria Love with the Proper Husband (Marcus/Gwen)
Alexander, Victoria Lady Amelia’s Secret Lover novella (Robert/Amelia)
Alexander, Victoria The Prince’s Bride (Rand/Jocelyn)
Alexander, Victoria The Importance of Being Wicked (Winfield/Miranda)
Alexander, Victoria Lord Stillwell’s Excellent Engagements novella (Winfield/ Felicia&Lucy&Caroline)
Alvarez, Tracey In Too Deep (West/Piper)
Andre, Bella The Way You Look Tonight (Rafe/Brooke)
Ann, Jewel E. When Life Happened (Gus/Parker)
Ashe, Katharine In the Arms of a Marquess (Ben)
Ashley, Jennifer The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie (Ian, not surprisingly/Beth) – GENRE OUTLINE
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Rules of Scoundrels Series: A Rogue by Any Other Name and No Good Duke Goes Unpunished by Sarah MacLean

There are many reasons that Sarah MacLean is on my autobuy list, but one of them is that she has enormous potential that is coming into full flower. No Good Duke Goes Unpunished has a twist at the end that not only guarantees I will be combing back through this and the other two books in her “Rules of Scoundrels” series, but I will purchase next book, Put Up Your Dukes*, the second it becomes available. These historical romances feature four displaced aristocrats who have joined together to run a wildly successful gambling hell called The Fallen Angel. Each book features one of the exiles, i.e. A Rogue by Any Other Name (Bourne), One Good Earl Deserves a Lover (Cross), No Good Duke Goes Unpunished (Temple), and Put Up Your Dukes** (Chase).

A Rogue by Any Other Name

Theoretically, I read A Rogue by Any Other Name last year, but it was during my frantic romance devouring phase and it didn’t really capture my attention. This is not the first time that has happened and it won’t be the last. I read the novel again properly this year after One Good Earl Deserves a Lover because I loved the latter so.

Michael, Marquess of Bourne, and Lady Penelope were childhood friends. He went away to school and she stayed home as was the curse of women in her era. They wrote letters, but Michael’s responses petered out and then stopped after he gambled away his inheritance and left Society behind. For ten years, he has been bent on reclaiming the property that he considers his birthright. There are a lot of people in romances who gamble away their fortunes, but they are rarely the hero. It’s a great touch. Bourne is cold, driven, and, as I said in reference to him in the One Good Earl review, suffers “from a prolonged case of Head Up Posterior”. When Bourne discovers that “his” land is now tied to Penelope’s dowry, it brings him back into the orbit of his childhood friend. Wallflower Penelope is surprised to see Michael again and not happy with the changes in him. They gradually come together as he both resolves and relinquishes his issues. Overall, I enjoyed A Rogue by Any Other Name, but it was not as good as either of the two that followed it.

No Good Duke Goes Unpunished

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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.