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Eleven Scandals to Start... by Sarah MacLean

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke's Heart
Love by Numbers #3

Sarah MacLean
Historical Romance
Published in 2011

H/h - Simon Pearson, The Duke of Leighton/Juliana Fiori
Setting: London/Yorksire, 1823.

Read in June, 2011.

My rating: 3.5 out of 5

                                                                           [spoiler alert]

The Duke of Disdain, Simon, didn't impress me in the other two books in this series, specially in Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord when he just left his sister to Minerva house, learning she's gotten herself pregnant out of wedlock, announcing he has no sister! In this book, I thought he'd work hard to convince me but he gave me a lot of frustrations instead. I wanted to love him since I'm kinda tired of rakes and he seemed liked the type I'd enjoy reading and Juliana the type of heroine delivering the jolting his 'ever perfect' life needed... Well, I'll try to point out what went wrong for me in this book.

We already knew that scandal walks side-by-side with Juliana, no matter how much she abhors it, not matter that she tries not to get involved in one. The Ton has already marked her as somewhat 'fallen' because of her mother. So, when she was almost mauled by an old lech in a garden as she was trying to take a bit of fresh air (yah, they think she's a 'fair game'!), she ran and found herself inside Leighton aka Simon's carriage. She didn't know it of course and when Simon steps inside to leave the ball, she's discovered. They exchange words and Simon, who held a contempt for her and her family for not living up to his standards (even though he and the 2nd twin Nick are old friends), goes even as far as insinuating that if she's trying to procure a position as his mistress since that's what she'll be good for! Juliana, who had tendre for the duke since the moment they met in the bookshop months ago, is furious. She just wants a glimpse of that man, the kind and nice man she saw before knowing the story surrounding her birth. Then, she decides she'd have to do something to shake this man out of his cocoon of 'perfection'. Later, as they rode in Hyde park, she challenges him that she'd prove to him, in 2 weeks, that love can be ignored but passion is needed to live the life to it's fullest. Simon, who was just kissing her, the next moment shoves her off of him and agrees to take on the challenge. Afterwards, they met in various balls and other places, does other things to rile him up. She even sends him a note to meet her near Serpentine. Simon, one moment is kissing her, the next telling her he's the duke and he has a duty, which means mixing with a woman mired in scandal such as her is out of question! And Juliana, against her better judgement, does things like falling into the Serpentine and so on which only results in more scandals!

But, Simon's perfect reputation won't be perfect for long, not after the truth of his sister's situation comes out. Simon had done everything, which includes giving up his mistress, doing improvements in politics and proposing marriage to a woman who can match his reputation, to ensure that their pristine reputation stands the blow when it comes. He can't afford Juliana doing the things she's doing but can't ignore her either since she tempts him beyond his imagination. I understood this, since this is how he was brought up since childhood, to be a Duke and his family taught him (if his mother is any indication) never to show any emotion, passion- anything so crass and common! Juliana, on the other hand, not really understanding Simon, tries to goad him in various ways. In the meantime, after the garden incident, Ralston aka Gabriel asks Simon to keep an eye on her. Simon agrees only because Nick took his sister Georgiana in when she needed a place to turn to. In the process of 'keeping an eye on her', Simon becomes more and more attracted to Juliana which results in more kisses and touches. And then, Juliana learned that he's considering marrying Lady Penelope, a proper young lady who can match Simon's reputation and an earl's daughter no less. Juliana is hurt and all her old vulnerabilities come back to haunt her. Still, she kept fighting, maintaining a face when the horrible gossipy women of the Ton keep on belittling her whenever they get a chance. She hears such things all the times but when it links with Simon and her, making her look something she's not, that is when she's more upset. I really loved the way she handled one such incident with one such harpy and answered her so well that it felt really good! That woman needed that. Also, Simon's mother in a scene, as she was being mean to her. I thought Juliana did great!

So far, the book was going quite well but after about halfway, I felt Simon is being too much of a butthead. I begin to feel frustrated that Juliana tried and tried to get to him and he kept pushing her away, over and over again! Then, trouble happens as Juliana's mother comes back to make their life hell once again. In the other two books, I wasn't sure if the woman was alive or not so got my answer on this. That woman's so self-centered and vain, I couldn't quite believe the way she spoke and acted. I was rather disappointed that she could still manipulate Juliana and Juliana, even being so bold in her words and action, couldn't quite answer her back, ever. Anyways, their mother walks into a dinner party, which was held by the Ralstons to thank the Duke for saving Juliana from the Serpentine and as usual, ruined their day. She even hinted that she'd never been to Venice and married to a merchant, which strongly suggested not only Juliana is illegitimate but a fraud as well. Juliana is so hurt, she ran to the stables and Simon follows her there. They're caught by Gabriel, who understood and Simon offered marriage. Juliana knowing why Simon's doing it said 'no' and then learned that he already talked to Lady Penelope's father about the betrothal. She leaves instantly. Simon gets angry and formally proposes to Penelope the next day. In a ball, where their engagement was about to be announced, Juliana talks to Penelope. She was hurt, not knowing what to do and in despair thinking she'll never be enough for Simon. And trust me, this issue went on for so damned long, I begin to lose interest in the book. Even on chapter 17, I had no idea what would it take to jolt Simon's rock hard determination of maintaining his so-called reputation!

Then, after some more such incidents, Juliana decides to go to Yorkshire, in Nick and Isabel's home. BTW: she didn't know about Simon's sister. So, when she learned that Simon's here for the birth of a child, she assumed it's his illegitimate. But, as she went to talk to him to convince him not to abandon the child, they talk and she understood some of Simon's problems/bindings. They kiss again and Simon, again, pushed her away and I hoped she'd give him her back and be done with it, seriously! I was getting so annoyed! I mean c'mon, be a man Simon! But, of course, Juliana realizes she's in love with him and can't do that.

Simon did avoid her for a while thinking it's for the best (bleh!) but then there was this bonfire night in the village where they spent some good times and I hoped, possibly, now thing's will change. But of course, NO! It actually got bad, at least for me and God, I was ardently wishing this book to finish! They kissed, hiding from the revelers in the bonfire night and Simon did what he does best, yah you go it right, pushed her away and even said some stupid things to Juliana. She's more hurt and angry but later at night, she goes to his room to know, at least for one night, what it's like to be his. *rolls eyes!* For the first time in the book, Simon couldn't turn her away, which might've had something to do with Juliana being naked and so on ... Moving on (since I wasn't particularly moved by the love scene), they talk again which resulted in more misunderstanding, Juliana even went as far as proposing she become his mistress (I mean seriously?!) but Simon proposed marriage again and she refused, thinking he'd regret her later, bla bla bla ... (by now I'm just flipping through pages). She leaves for London early the next morning. Simon's in rage knowing she ran from him again and tries doing some stuffs that includes manhandling Nick and doing a lot of screaming and shouting. But, what I loved here mostly was seeing Nick talking some sense (as usual) into Simon's thick head. He spoke of some truth that needed to be heard! That's why I adore Nick so much. :D

Before leaving for London, Simon speaks to Georgiana. It was a heart warming scene. I also loved how he was besotted with his infant niece, even though he didn't like that feeling. He tried, in vain, to make Georgiana say the name of the man, the father which she sidetracked again. I wish someday we get to know about the culprit. Anyway, Georgiana already talked to Juliana before it all happened and liked her quite a lot. And, she does something quite nice for them, even it'll result in her ruin because she knew the ever perfect Simon would hesitate to end the engagement with Penelope, unless he's given some incentive. Simon goes back to London and finds out what Georgiana has done! The whole London now knows about her and the Ton has already decided that the Leighton name is not so high and mighty anymore. Simon tries seeing Juliana in a ball but was denied access. Somehow, he manages to get in and gets all the cut direct he can get, understanding for the first time what's it like to be at the receiving end of one. Juliana, in the meantime, was dancing with Benedick, Callie and Mariana's brother and was trying to be 'proper' to show Simon that she can. Benedick actually proved to be sweet and thoughtful, I hope he gets his own book someday. Now, this scene in the ballroom I loved. But I was equally angry, at Juliana this time, for running away, leaving a love sick Simon who screamed ILU in the middle of it! It was because she misunderstood him as he said something like, he's about to make a scandal of his own and the word 'scandal' addled her brain. She didn't think back, at all, what Simon meant but I hoped that Simon's confession would shake her and she'd do something like running to him and kiss each-other senseless. But, sadly, no. *sigh*

Moving on, I did love the epilogue. I really hope to see Benedick and Georgiana's books. I'll read them, of course, to know about them. They both are deserving of their own happy endings. I wasn't particularly impressed by Lady Penelope, hope she isn't paired with Benedick! Overall, I give this book a 3.5 star.


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