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Ten Ways to Be Adored... by Sarah MacLean

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Ten Ways To Be Adored When Landing a Lord
Love by Numbers #2

Sarah MacLean
Historical Romance
Published in 2010

H/h - Lord Nicholas St. John/Lady Isabel Townsend
Setting: Yorkshire/London, 1823.

Read in June, 2011.

My rating: 3.5 out of 5

                                                                       [spoiler alert]

I always feel sad when I finish a book thinking this could've been much better and of course if I happen to like the characters in it, this makes it worse. This book was one of them. I wish the story didn't drag that much and Nicholas aka Nick aka I'll-hug-him-to-my-ample-bosom-anytime darling is one of those heroes I adore! :p

The story starts with the heroine, Isabel, having to fend off another unwanted suitor. Oh, wait a minute! They aren't your regular suitors, they're the ones send by her dad, all of whom own him money in gambling debts! Oh man, that was so disgusting, knowing a father would do that to his daughter but Isabel's dad, the deceased earl of Reddich, whom people called as the 'Wastreal' was just so. He was a horrible parent, left his family to the country estate to fend for themselves, for at least last 7 yrs. Her mother, a weak-willed woman, who always blamed Isabel for her father's desertion. Why? You have to read the book to know it but I thought, of course, it wasn't at all her fault. So, after her mother passed away, also sorta leaving her to fend for herself and her young brother, Isabel thought she would be alone. But, just before her mother died, Isabel met a girl in need of help and a job, which she happily obliged. And, it went on for last 7 yrs., she helped countless other girls, some of whom stayed loyal and helped her back, some didn't. This is how 'Minerva house' was established. Isabel, by no means, is rich. When this latest 'suitor' arrived, she took the help of the other girls (who wear breeches and caps to look like men, since the only man in the house is the current earl of Reddich, Isabel's 10yrs. old brother James) and as usual, fend him off, Isabel learns that her father has passed away, too. Now, Isabel is happy and worried at the same time. Happy, that she doesn't have to fend off suitors anymore; worried because the future looms dark and foreboding. She knows she has to take care of James and help him become an earl who can bring the family goodwill back. She also has to help the girls and keep them hidden for their own good. So, she decides to sell the family statuary, even though she treasured those a lot.

Our hero aka my darling Nick has just been awarded the title of "The Lord to Land" by a ladies magazine. It was kinda funny to read. Nick is irritated by all these unwanted attentions. Not that he ever lacked attentions, just never liked to flaunt it all like his pompous twin, that's all. And, Nick has a past. A past, which took place in Turkey, I so hoped to see more of but the author kinda disappointed me in that regard. So, Nick and his Turkish friend, a giant named Durukhan aka Rock was sitting in an inn and thinking to take a hike from all these women when the duke of Leighton, Simon, comes in and informs them his sister is missing and he needs Nick's help. Well, what's that got to do with Nick? It appears, Nick is a very skilled tracker. I'll come to the part of 'how' later on. Nick, even though he wants to forget about it, takes the challenge on just for some much needed distraction. This leads him and Rock to Yorkshire and he meets Isabel in an incident. It was funny and although I was a bit annoyed by Isabel's behavior towards him, I loved the way Nick talked to her. And, he instantly (I kinda felt it) felt something for her and it wasn't entirely lust.

Isabel was already thinking of selling the statuary and she got to know about the 'landing a lord'-thing from her somewhat impertinent helpers in the house and her cousin, Lara. All of them wanted her to 'land a lord' to save the house and so on. But, that's not what Isabel wants in her life, at least not on the surface! She doesn't wanna get married and heaven forbid, fall in love and become her mother! I was pretty annoyed the way this issue kept coming in every turn after she met Nick. Anyway, when she understood this man is the best antiquarian she can ever hope of getting, a desperate Isabel knowing all the troubles this might lead her to, invites Nick and Rock to her house. And, then some funny incidents take place, it seems all their meetings are prone to lead to some debacle or the other. And, Nick finds her in breeches, working in the roof! Nick is a bit suspicious by the way Isabel keep trying to shoo him off to come back later but he is intrigued by her nevertheless. He meets James and Lara, to whom Rock takes an interest in. He also sees the men in the house, the butler and the stable boy/master, all pretty young and so on. But, Nick keeps it all to himself. They visit the statuary and Nick is marveled by her collection. I liked the way he talked about the statues, it shows his interest and knowledge so well! And yes, the glasses, hooboy! :p There was a scene, where he talks about a statue of Voluptas which later in the story, leads to certain other scenes ... ermm, quite hot ones if I might add! Anyway, Nick comes back the next day but they're trapped in the rain, which forces them to stay in the house. The helpers of the house are very happy since they've decided this is the lord they want Isabel 'to land' and the attraction between them is quite palpable. Isabel knows it too but she feels vulnerable and confused about what to do. One time, she wants to shove him outta house and her life, the other time she wants him to hold her close.

Nick knows this time he might not survive. Even when he works, Isabel is on his mind. What I loved most about Nick is that he's a romantic at heart. He can't deny a cry for help, as in the proverbial 'damsel in distress' situation. He knows Isabel needs help. The more he gets to know her, the more he wants something more than just to help. Nick and Isabel can't keep their hands off each-other, one of which I loved when he refers to her as his own Voluptas *swoons*. I adored his interactions with the young earl, who it seems were hungry for a male attention, as his age would demand and living in a house full of women, Nick was a welcome sight for him. But incidentally, I thought their romance was too rushed up; in a few days they were not only talking about marriage but become lovers. Given to Isabel's issue with men and trust, I thought she'd be more cautious. But I know, Nick is irresistible and so good looking but most of all there is this intensity within him that people generally don't see, something Isabel can't deny. She wants him bad though she doesn't trust him with their future. And, I was so irritated that even after Nick did so many things for her, she kept on pushing him away. I just couldn't believe her, at all! I started this book liking Isabel quite a lot, thinking she's smart and strong, very independent; which she is. But, that doesn't mean, becoming so confused over someone that you end up hurting that person. And she did just that. When Nick even proposed to her, she made me even more confused. She's saying yes right now but the next moment, she's in denial saying she doesn't trust him. When he asks her about the House, since he'd already found out about it, even told her about some of his past, she instantly thinks: "oh I can't trust him, he's not good for the House (read: me, my wellbeing and identity!)" ... WTF? :\

In the meantime, Rock and Lara fell for each-other. I really wanted more of their relationship, from their POV. Leighton sends men to abduct his sister, Georgiana, who was of course in Minerva house and was working as James's governess. The girl, who's very young, made a mistake of trusting someone too and now, she's pregnant. Of course the duke knows nothing about that and the way I saw him in Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake and later on when he makes an appearance here, I understood why he's call the 'Duke of Disdain'. I really disliked the guy, specially after knowing the truth, when he said he has no sister! *gasps*

Moving on, of course, Nick helps finding the girl, which leads the duke to Minerva house. Before that Nick proposes to Isabel. She was a bit peeved thinking Nick betrayed her by not telling her he was there basically in search of Georgiana. Later that night, the way Nick tried to explain himself and asked for a second chance was so beautiful and made love to her, I couldn't believe, the very next day she denied the topic of marriage, in front of the duke no less. Then, they're kinda forced to marry to save James's future and the House itself. And, again, Isabel thinks this isn't how she dreamed of her own marriage. I'm confused again, I thought you didn't wanna get married at all Isabel! All these confusion of "I want love, I do not want love, I love Nick, I want him to love me back but I don't want love" made me insane! And, it leads to the most disastrous thing possible. After their marriage, it was all well, Isabel was a bit off but decided to show Nick around her estate and in a ruin where she used to play as a child, they made love. Here, Nick professed his love to her. I mean c'mon woman, what else do you need? And, she returns it at night by telling her house helpers that she doesn't love him, it's just for James and the House, she'd married him (trust me, in her mind, this is not what she felt for him!). I was agape and felt like slapping her! Poor babe heard it all and man oh man, the love scene after that ... he proved how much he loves her and then just leaves her afterwards. Well, you deserved all that and more, Isabel!

Nick leaves the next day but sends a host of workers, foods, even dressmakers for the girls to help Isabel. She is ashamed now and wants him back. Well, a bit late for that, don't you think? Then at night, Rock, who didn't leave because of Lara, tells her about Nick's life in Turkey as 'the bulan' or the hunter and how a slut trapped and send him to prison, while acting in love with him, which led him never to bind himself to another woman again. Now knowing the truth of his past and understanding the measure of hurt she'd dealt to him, Isabel leaves that night with Rock for London. After that, I enjoyed the last chapter and the epilogue very much. The last chapter in London was very beautiful, mostly because I believe for the first time, Isabel wasn't confused about her feeling for Nick. I loved the way they said "I missed you". I wish I saw more of such sigh worthy moments throughout the book. I also liked the banters between the two brothers.

As I said before, the whole story took place in about a week and I felt their romance was too hasty in nature. I also thought more of the Turkey incident would've made the book a more enjoyable read, not as monotonous as it felt while reading about the incidents in Isabel's house, Townsend Park. Isabel and the girls of Minerva house, I didn't much enjoy their conversation for I felt those were somewhat lacking in spontaneity. I don't know why I felt this way. And, last but not the least, I thought Nick had the potentials to be a great hero, deserved a better heroine (that maybe just me since I adored him, hahaha). So, I give it a 3.5 stars. Trust me, I would've loved nothing more than to give it a 4+ star ... *sigh*


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