Friday, June 17, 2011
Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke's Heart
Juliani Fiori is the half sister of Nicholas St. John and Gabriel, The Marquess of Ralston, and has already caused quite a stir in the ton. Juliana doesn't care what the ton thinks of her and doesn't mind that she is regarded as a scandal, but for a short time she fancied that the Duke of Leighton could see past the scandal. Unfortunately he proved that he earned his nickname as the Duke of Disdain when he throws her over after realizing who she is. Simon Pearson, Duke of Leighton, was raised to respect his standing in society and has always known that his most important duty is to the family name and keeping his family away from scandal. His mother has made it clear that he must marry a respectable girl, and marry soon in order to head off the scandal of his sister's illegitimate pregnancy (which we learned about in the previous book) and Juliana is certainly not that respectable girl. When she hides in his carriage to escape a too eager suitor the sparks fly between them and Juliana becomes determined to prove that Simon is not suited for the passionless life he has laid out for himself.
Racing their horses very early in the morning in a deserted Hyde Park, stealing away from crowded parties for a forbidden kiss, and facing down her brothers bring Leighton and Juliana closer together but he is still convinced that he cannot end up with Juliana. Juliana hates that she is falling for a man who sees her as nothing as a scandal because while she puts on a front, she does want him to think that she is good enough for him. As the discovery of his sister's situation looms closer Simon continues with his plans, proposing to his proper English bride, even while he cannot stop thinking about Juliana and wonders if he really can survive a passionless life without her. Juliana is heartbroken, but when she discovers the reason behind Simon's determination to be proper and staid, she realizes that the two of them never had a chance. She wants Simon to want her because of her flaws and her scandals, and by the time he discovers that Juliana is everything and anything he could ever want, he has prove to her that what they have is worth any scandal.
I immediately fell in love with Juliana and Simon and I love stories that bit an uptight male with the happy, free-spirited female, especially since many books feature the opposite. Simon was an excellent proper lord, he carried it off so well and the backstory of his sister and the appearance of his mother made it clear why he acted the way he did. His behavior was practical, realistic, and done completely in character and it made it so much more interesting and fun when he did loosen up. Juliana was the perfect foil for him because she was prone to causing scandal, but her behavior was also done perfectly. I don't like heroines who do thinks purely to cause a scandal or whose behavior is just too ridiculous to seem true and Juliana definitely doesn't fall into this category. She was fun and free and was torn between wanting to fit in and make her family proud and Simon like her more, but she wasn't willing to give up the things that make her happy. I loved reading about their time together because they were both trying to push each other away and seem like they didn't want each other but they so obviously did.
Their relationship progressed very naturally and I liked that the majority of the book was spent on the two of them and the romance. There were a lot of steamy scenes spread throughout the book, not too many though, and so much sexual tension between them that when they did get together it was almost an explosion. Very hot indeed. I enjoyed the plot involving his sister because it really showed how much he had progressed during the book, mainly because of Juliana's help and I liked the appearance of his other because I like small doses of mean women in my books and because it was some nice backstory to his life. I really liked the appearance of Juliana's mother because she was interesting and it served to really throw Juliana's life into stark relief and highlighted some of the fears about herself that Simon helped her overcome. There were many appearances by characters from previous books but I did not feel like they took over the story or became overly annoying. As usual, I love MacLean's writing style; it's fast and funny, but still gets all the important details done right.
Rating: MacLean writes another wonderful book. Almost nothing I didn't like about this book with two wonderful characters who just worked magic together.