Lady Philippa Marbury is . . . odd
The brilliant, bespectacled daughter of a double marquess cares more for books than balls, for science than the season, and for laboratories than love. She’s looking forward to marrying her simple fiancé and living out her days quietly with her dogs and her scientific experiments. But before that, Pippa has two weeks to experience all the rest—fourteen days to research the exciting parts of life. It’s not much time, and to do it right she needs a guide familiar with London’s darker corners.
She needs . . . a Scoundrel
She needs Cross, the clever, controlled partner in London’s most exclusive gaming hell, with a carefully crafted reputation for wickedness. But reputations often hide the darkest secrets, and when the unconventional Pippa boldly propositions him, seeking science without emotion, she threatens all he works to protect. He is tempted to give Pippa precisely what she wants . . . but the scoundrel is more than he seems, and it will take every ounce of his willpower to resist giving the lady more than she ever imagined.
Almost three years ago, a friend called me after reading Sarah MacLean’s Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake telling me I must absolutely read this book. “You’ll love it!” she said. I’m happy to say she wasn’t wrong. Since that time, Sarah MacLean has been on my automatic buy list.
Pippa Marbury is almost too smart for her own good. The kind of woman who is certainly book smart, but isn’t the most intelligent of people when it comes to common sense. As a result she often speaks to people she shouldn’t, goes places she shouldn’t, and puts herself in situations she should avoid at all costs. She speaks plainly to others and wants nothing more than the same in return when she asks a question. She often asks those beneath her social standing to use her first name instead of her title and she’s also unwilling to pass judgment on others based simply upon society’s beliefs. It’s not that she doesn’t comprehend the societal proprieties, it’s that she doesn’t really give a damn. While some readers might find her to be naïve, I prefer to think she’s a woman ahead of her time.
Cross, a ginger-haired accountant and no-good second son of an Earl, is a man haunted by irreparable mistakes in his past. While his backstory as the disappointing spare isn’t all that original in historical romance, I do like how he has worked hard to reform himself well before the heroine arrives on scene. As co-owner of The Falling Angel, Cross has appointed himself protector of the women who work there, even helping those who wish to get out of the profession find work elsewhere. He is a good man doing his best to remain on the straight and narrow. Unfortunately for him, Pippa tempts him, not only physically but intellectually at each and every turn.
While the attraction between Pippa and Cross is present from the beginning, the romance develops at a snail’s pace. But when one considers the fact Cross’s business partner is Pippa’s brother-in-law, and that Pippa is to be married in a matter of days, their reluctance to act on their feelings makes sense. MacLean makes the most of the pacing, maxing out the sexual tension by repeatedly throwing both characters into the face of temptation.
“Tell me, Lady Philippa.” He raised a hand, one finger lingering at the indentation of her upper lip, a hairsbreadth from touching her. “In your study of anatomy, did you ever learn the name of the place between the nose and the lip?”
Her lips parted, and she resisted the urge to lean toward him, to force him to touch her. She answered on a whisper. “The philtrum.”
He smiled. “Clever girl. It is Latin. Do you know its meaning?”
“It means love potion. The Romans believed it was the most erotic place on the body. They called it Cupid’s bow, because of the way it shapes the upper lip.” As he spoke, he ran his finger along the curve of her lip, a temptation more than a touch, barely there. His voice grew softer, deeper. “They believed it was the mark of the god of love.”
She inhaled, low and shallow. “I did not know that.”
He leaned down, closer, his hand falling away. “I’d be willing to wager that there are any number of things about the human body that you do not know, my little expert. All things that I would happily teach you.”
“One Good Earl Deserves a Lover definitely meets all my requirements for a great romance. More than once I caught myself laughing out of pity for poor Cross and his having to deal with a very inquisitive, very intelligent, very frustrating woman. Then there were heart wrenching moments when Pippa believed no man would ever be attracted to her due to her oddness. And as if that weren’t enough, MacLean throws in a good dose of angst, more than once leaving me to wonder if these two were going to have their happily ever after.
While this is the second book in the series, I don’t think it is absolutely necessary to read the first one. But why would you want to skip Penelope and Bourne’s story? Enjoy both I say! I highly recommend this book and look forward to reading the next in the series.
You can buy a copy here.