Category: Special Features

Falling in Love with Books: Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake

Genres: Adult, Historical

Welcome to Day 2 of Falling in Love with Books 2016! I am so pleased to host Isalys on the blog who is an expert on all things Historical Romance related. At least that’s what I think…So enjoy today’s romantic post from her today!


Title: Nine Rules to Break When Romancing A Rake
Author: Sarah MacLean
Genre: Adult Historical Romance
Release Date: Published March 30th 2010 by Avon
ISBN: 0061852058
(ISBN13: 9780061852053)

A lady does not smoke cheroot. She does not ride astride. She does not fence or attend duels. She does not fire a pistol, and she never gambles at a gentlemen’s club.

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.

Historical romance is my comfort food!  I get so excited every time someone asks me for a recommendation or better yet, tells me they’re new to the genre.  If you do ask me for a recommendation, my first choice will always be Nine Rules to Break When Romancing A Rake by Sarah MacLean. In all the books I’ve read, it’s still one of my absolute favorites!  I also think it’s the ideal book to start with if you are new to historical romance.

Calpurnia – aka Callie – is not your typical heroine.  She’s not a perfect specimen of femininity, in physical appearance or temperament. Do not doubt that she is a proper lady, but even proper ladies need to have fun, right? In her quest for fun, she makes a list of nine unacceptable things she’d like to do; things ladies do not do.  After all, if she’s going to be a spinster, she may as well get her kicks while she can.  In pursuit of these nine things, Gabriel St. John, the Marquess of Ralston gets sucked in and hilarity & romance ensues. 

Gah, I loved these two!  Callie was committed to completing her list and Gabriel, honorable rake that he is committed himself to keeping her out of trouble! Together they were fun and sexy and romantic and everything I look for in a romantic couple.  I loved that she had real insecurities but didn’t let them slow her down and I loved that he was able to see past those insecurities to the strong, playful, sexy and beautiful woman that she was.

“I’m not a wife, or a mother, or a pillar of the ton,” she waved her
unharmed arm as though the life she was describing was just beyond the
room. “I’m invisible. So, why not stop being such a craven wallflower
and start trying all the things that I’ve always dreamed of doing? Why
not go to taverns and drink scotch and fence? I confess, those things
have been much more interesting than all the loathsome teas and balls
and needlepoint with which I have traditionally occupied my time.” She
met his gaze again. “Does this make sense?”
He nodded seriously. “It does. You’re trying to find Callie

I loved that he understood her and ultimately, isn’t that what we all want from a great romance, to be loved & understood?

Now we are quite a few years into the future from the time this story is set in so the things that are off limits and therefore considered rebellious for Callie to do are probably every day occurrences to us. However, wouldn’t we all love to go on a few adventures and try different things.  If we could make our own list of nine things, what would our lists include?

Below is mine and as a fun little twist, I created it based on some of the adventures a few of my other favorite heroines have been on. (Below each item, I included the title and GR link the the book I referenced to you can add it to your historical romance TBR).

Like Nicholaa in The Prize by Julie Garwood
Like Susana in The Rogue You Know by Shana Galen

Like Eloise in To Sir Phillip, With Love by Julia Quinn 

 Like Beth in The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie
 Like Lydia in Bound by Your Touch by Meredith Duran 


I love that you can find such empowered heroines in this genre, especially when set in times of such class and gender-based adversity. As my awesome friend Ang at @Ang_Writes puts it “strong females facing social challenges during interesting parts of history. What’s not to love?”

So if YOU are new to the genre, or maybe you’re not but just haven’t gotten around to reading Nine Rules to Break When Romancing A Rake, I really hope that you do!  And if you do, I hope you love Callie & Gabriel as much as I do.  Tweet me @IsaBookSoulmate if you wanna tell me all about it.

But before you go, what’s on YOUR list???

What a delightful post from Isalys! I love the suggestions she makes at the end of her post and all the books you can add to your Goodreads. So fun! Feel free to tweet Isalys or leave a comment here, and let her know if you have read or plan to read any of these books. See you tomorrow for the next post in Falling in Love with Books!

What Katie Read

Falling in Love with Books: After I Do

Falling in Love with Books: After I DoAfter I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Published by Washington Square Press on July 1st 2014
Genres: Adult, Realistic
Pages: 352

From the author of Forever, Interrupted—hailed by Sarah Jio as "moving, gorgeous, and at times heart-wrenching"—comes a breathtaking new novel about modern marriage, the depth of family ties, and the year that one remarkable heroine spends exploring both.
When Lauren and Ryan’s marriage reaches the breaking point, they come up with an unconventional plan. They decide to take a year off in the hopes of finding a way to fall in love again. One year apart, and only one rule: they cannot contact each other. Aside from that, anything goes.
Lauren embarks on a journey of self-discovery, quickly finding that her friends and family have their own ideas about the meaning of marriage. These influences, as well as her own healing process and the challenges of living apart from Ryan, begin to change Lauren’s ideas about monogamy and marriage. She starts to question: When you can have romance without loyalty and commitment without marriage, when love and lust are no longer tied together, what do you value? What are you willing to fight for?
This is a love story about what happens when the love fades. It’s about staying in love, seizing love, forsaking love, and committing to love with everything you’ve got. And above all, After I Do is the story of a couple caught up in an old game—and searching for a new road to happily ever after.

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Welcome to the 2nd edition of FALLING IN LOVE WITH BOOKS! This year I have a delightful lineup of posts for you with books that readers want you to fall in love with! First up is Danielle from Bookish in Texas! She’s sharing her love of AFTER I DO by Taylor Jenkins Reid, and I recently read one of Reid’s books, MAYBE IN ANOTHER LIFE, so I’m really looking forward to hearing more about this one from Danielle. Let’s Welcome her to the Blog!

After I Do is an amazing contemporary novel that I can’t recommend highly enough. Even if contemporaries or “chick lit” novels are not normally your thing, After I Do is such an emotional and heartwrenching novel that everyone can relate to it.

We always get books about the falling in love part — the meeting someone amazing, the staying up all night talking, the non-stop laughter. But what happens a couple years down the road? What happens when you’re up all night because you’re fighting, or when that person just doesn’t make you feel happy anymore? This book tackles all that and more, in such an honest way.

This isn’t a novel about a crappy couple who just argues all the time. It’s about a wonderful couple who is so in love — they just haven’t been feeling that way for a while, and decide to take a year apart. The only rule for their separate year is that they cannot contact each other whatsoever, and hope that through taking some time apart they are able to re-discover their love. Their year apart is full of ups and downs and a lot of self-discovery for each of them, but they find that they just can’t stop thinking about each other.

“Ryan and I are two people who used to be in love.

What a beautiful thing to have been.

What a sad thing to be.”

As someone in a serious relationship (that I hope one day leads to marriage), this book was an eye-opener to me. It was so realistic how so many little things could easily add up to a mountain of important things, and can drive such a wedge between two people. This book makes me want to value love, and my relationship, while I have it — not just if I might be on the verge of losing it.

After I Do is overall just a phenomenal book about love, relationships, and making things last even when things look horrible.

Thank you, Danielle, for kicking off this Special Feature with your love for what sounds like a wonderful story by Taylor Jenkins Reid!

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s guest post…you won’t want to miss it!


What Katie Read

Bookish Journeys: Entering The Secret Garden at Great Maytham Hall


If you had the key to my storage unit in Northern California, you would be able to gain entry and discover many boxes, mostly of books. If you happened to rummage through the right container, however, you might feel curious enough to open a small dark box, about the size of your palm, made in Poland, which houses several tiny items I have no intention of ever giving away.

In fact, you might find an important keepsake from my visit to France Hodgson Burnett’s home in England.

This item is a smooth, round, dark acorn picked up from the ground under one of the massive trees planted near the entrance to Burnett’s British home, Great Maytham Hall. A home which inspired the writing of one of my favorite childhood books, The Secret Garden. Yes, I had permission from the host of my class’s visit to the great estate to pocket the acorn. I was 22, beginning a Master’s program in Children’s Literature in England, and I was delighted that I would have something tangible by which I could remember my own special Secret Garden “visit.”

That acorn traveled with me from the U.K. back to California, and then across America to the East Coast for several years, and then back to California yet again.

Whenever I take it out, to touch its smooth and shiny exterior, I’m taken back to that morning when I encountered Great Maytham Hall for the first time. Occasionally I wonder whether touching it frequently might spark my own creativity or instantaneously transport me to the grounds of Great Maytham Hall itself.)

Frances Hodgson Burnett lived at Great Maytham Hall between 1898 and 1907. Though it’s quite different than Misselthwaite Manor, it’s certain that this place inspired Burnett’s writing of her classic book. There she basked in the beauty of the natural world within the estate’s gardens, and befriended a robin. In fact, one of the gardens at this house inspired the actual Secret Garden in the book.

“Great Maytham Hall – – 228926” by Stephen Nunney. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

You can imagine my delight that those of us embarking on the graduate program in children’s literature at The University of Roehampton were taken to this particular place at the start of the term.

Tea and coffee were waiting for our group of fifteen or so avid students of children’s literature, and the estate’s caretakers gave us permission to wander the grounds in the early fall sunshine.

Before stepping out of the grand house and into the back garden with the others, I stood for a moment with my still warm cup of tea. I looked through the open French doors, wondering what it would have been like had Frances Hodgson Burnett been alive, and perhaps waiting to meet our group. I imagined how it would have felt to wake up each day and know that (weather cooperating) I might sit and write in the garden, expecting a certain robin to show up for a chat (there’s a lovely true story about Burnett and the robin she befriended called “My Robin.” It’s actually in my annotated edition of the book.).

It was magical to view an area of the garden where we were told Burnett had spent time writing her story.  You can imagine our awe and wonder at that fact. An immediate hush fell over the group, the only sound the cheerful chirping of the birds. Though Burnett was no longer there, I’m certain that many of us were picturing her, peacefully writing stories that would delight readers for generations.
“Great Maytham Hall Garden – – 228928” by Stephen Nunney. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

“If you look the right way, you can see that the whole world is a garden.”

I remember that day as a day of dreams coming true—seeing up close the place where the writer of several of my favorite childhood books (I also loved A Little Princess) lived and wrote. We were a group of graduate students embarking on our own journey of discovery into the great world of children’s literature, and a trip to Great Maytham Hall was the perfect start to this adventure!

It was a magical day, to say the least. And this is really how I felt. (Also a tap to Wendy Darling who helped push me to write this post.)

wendy gif83q87o1_500_large

Burnett appreciated and loved the natural world, and I could understand how the beauty of her walled garden at Great Maytham Hall inspired her. As I thought about it more, I realized that she and L.M. Montgomery were similar in that both were in love with the beauty of the natural world and an appreciation of this beauty is reflected in their books. Perhaps that’s one reason why both women are two of my favorite authors.

“And the secret garden bloomed and bloomed and every morning revealed new miracles.”

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“One of the strange things about living in the world is that it is only now and then one is quite sure one is going to live forever and ever and ever.”

I’ll save my thoughts on the actual book for my next post, but I hope you’ve enjoyed a glimpse of this bookish journey I can never forget. Of course, thank you to ladies over at The Midnight Garden Classic Middle Grade Read-along for reminding me how much I love this book!

What Katie Read
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