It has been a while since I’ve done a romance review, but I just finished a new series (new to me anyways) and thought I’d share!
I was fortunate enough to actually take a romance writing course with the author, Sarah MacLean, and not only was it a super fun class (how could writing romance NOT be fun?!) but it was so incredibly insightful in how authors bring to life such amazing stories.
What I really love about MacLean’s books is they are full of incredible writing and storytelling. We’ve all read the romance novel that while we might love the story and love the characters, we know (and gladly accept) that it is not the most eloquent prose. Personally, as a romance reader, as long as the story hooks me and I’m invested in the relationship I can usually overlook everything else. But the best romance novels are those that not only feature a unique story, but are so well written you feel almost scholarly (a sexy scholar, obviously), which is exactly what you get with this series!
The Love By Numbers trilogy follows three siblings of the Ralston House as they find love. The first book, Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake, is the tale of Callie and Gabriel, Marquess of Ralston. What makes this first book so fun is Callie is not your typical heroine. Labeled a wallflower (a title she has all too willingly accepted), Callie is spurred into taking control of her own life upon the engagement of her younger sister. Overhearing a conversation regarding what to do with her and her spinsterhood, Callie decides if she’s going to be put on the shelf she might as well live life to the fullest. Her adventures ultimately lead her to partnering with the Marquess of Ralston, Callie’s long term crush and ultimate male fantasy. One kiss is all is takes for their own adventure to begin. This was by far my favorite of the three books. There is something so relatable to Callie that makes you want to be her best friend.
The second book, Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord, was my second favorite book. Following Nick St. John, Gabriel’s twin brother, we trade in the London season for the Yorkshire country side where we meet Lady Isabel Townsend. Lady Isabel is used to shouldering burdens, both of her family and beyond. Never the one to ask for help, you can imagine her surprise when London’s “Lord to Land” shows up on her door step ready to assist her in assessing her marble collection. Although wary of her secrets getting out, Isabel rolls the dice and allows Nick into her life (Best.Decision.Ever). We all know that ladies with secrets make for some of the best heroines (and stories), which is why this was such a great read (believe me, Isabel has plenty of secrets!). This tale has a more dramatic flair to it and pairs a strong willed heroine with a caring and compassionate hero. It’s a delightful read through and through.
The final book, Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke’s Heart, took a while to grow on me. I found the heroine, Juliette, entirely unlikeable at the beginning of the book. Additionally, the story’s hero, the Duke of Leighton, isn’t exactly full of the warm and fuzzies either. However, about 10 chapters in I began to become fully invested. I will say that even though it was hard to immerse myself immediately in this book, both of these characters probably underwent the largest transformation of the entire Love By Numbers series (which is pretty awesome). Additionally, one of the best surprises of the book is that Penelope Marbury makes an appearance! For the longest time I couldn’t place where I had read Duke of Leighton until Penelope came into the picture. It was then I realized she is the heroine in MacLean’s current series The Rules of Scoundrels (which I am completely obsessed with). There is an even BIGGER surprise at the end of this book (especially if you have read the Scoundrel books, including Temple’s story) that was such a brilliant connection that I am giddy with anticipation for the final Scoundrel book release this November.
For fans of the Scoundrel series looking for something to read before Chase’s book comes out, I highly recommend Love By Numbers. And if you haven’t read either series – you can’t go wrong – but if you read fast like I do, go ahead and plunge into Love By Numbers so that when you move onto Scoundrel’s you won’t have to endure the agonizing wait for the final book!