Up until a few days ago, I was twenty six years old. Every time I were to answer the age question though, twenty eight would come out. I couldn't figure out why. I didn't want to be older than I really am but maybe it was just the age I felt I was at the moment? Callie though, Lady Calpurnia Hartwell, well, she's twenty eight years old -- a spinster, what else? I guess you could place me in that category as well. I think it's me being able to identify with the heroine of this book, it's me being able to empathize with her situation that made this book most especially dear to me. I was there with her all the way, and I'm so glad she got her Happily Ever After with Gabriel. :)
Lady Calpurnia Hartwell has always followed the rules, rules that have left her unmarried --- and more than a little unsatisfied. And so she's vowed to break the rules and live the life of pleasure she's been missing.
But to dance every dance, to steal a midnight kiss --- to do those things, Callie will need a willing partner. Someone who knows everything about rule-breaking. Someone like Gabriel St. John, the Marquess of Ralston --- charming and devastatingly handsome, his wicked reputation matched only by his sinful smile.
If she's not careful, she'll break the most important rule of all --- the one that says that pleasure-seekers should never fall hopelessly, desperately in love ...
Onto the review.
Quite possibly one of the hottest, most delicious story of love I have ever read. (And trust me, I have not stopped devouring romance novels since I discovered it at the beginning of this year, and this is definitely listed in my top five.) There is this Something Special about this book that had me laughing and gasping and fanning myself and sighing and crying and everything in between. Sure, the wallflower spinster heroine has been featured many times before, and so has the rakish hero that is sure to win her heart, but in the hands of Sarah Maclean, their personalities and their stories transcends the archetypes and they simply become .... real.
Maybe it's because even though Lady Calpurnia Hartwell has been put 'on the shelf' she hasn't given up on life -- on living HER life. So though reputable and sensible, she allows herself to do the unthinkable and makes a list of things she must do in her life to satisfy her, so she can be happy. Ladies, who here has not put into words (lists!) their dreams of breaking through and accomplishing the very thing that seems out of reach, limiting us, compelling us to live our lives, but barely just. I for one, can relate to her situation of being boxed in, and I can really sympathize with her, and the only thing left for me to do was to root for this person who turned her life around by being proactive instead of just reactive; this woman who is intelligent and kindhearted, principled, loving, Callie. To see her succeed, to live and experience life and happiness, to achieve her dreams, and most important of all, to be loved, and to see herself as who she is: strong . . . impassioned . . . beautiful. All this, without hurting anyone, without being bitter and cynical, and despite her heartbreak, never wavering on her principles and not compromising her belief.
Then, there's our hero, the very man who ignited that spark within our heroine's heart, Gabriel St. John, the Marquess of Ralston, the man who got swept up in our heroine's plight of adventure (seriously, he did not stand a chance, did he?) My dear Ralston, you were made to love her, and love her you did. Charm her and love her. Infuriate her, and love her. Seduce her and love her (oh my, the sexual tension, unspeakable heights of hotness and sexiness). Encourage her, and love her. Open up to her and love her. Open her eyes to see how beautiful she is, and love her. Make sure she gets to live the life she deserves and love her. You saw her for who she is, and damn that pride, and the stubbornness (well, in you both, really), because you truly and magnificently proved to her just what she means to you.
This is one of those unputdownable books for me. One of those books that made me gasp/sigh audibly. One of those books that gave me those blasted butterflies in my stomach that seemed to turn pterodactyl-like in one of those heart-wrenching scenes. I wanted to scream in frustration and shake the person into realization. I was silently yelling at her, 'Tell him! Tell him!' I was begging him to see what was happening as it was happening and I wanted their happiness together to begin as soon as possible, anxious for the misunderstandings to be set right, knowing that True Love awaits. I wanted more of their story, after they got their happily ever after. I suppose, there is nothing left to say, except that Ms. MacLean has succeeded. Superbly, of course, because just as Ralston told Callie that kisses should not leave you satisfied, the same also goes for reading great stories.
They should leave you wanting.