Monday, April 8, 2013

Review: One Good Earl Deserves a Lover by Sarah MacLean

What do the daughter of a double marquess, with an all-abiding love for science and a propensity towards oddness have in common with the owner of one London's most exclusive yet shadowy gaming hell who has quite the reputation among ladies?

On the surface? Absolutely nothing.

Fortunately for us, this is not a novel about surfaces but about what lies beneath when you actually, really look.

Lady Philippa Marbury, daughter of the Marquess of Needham and Dolby (yes, two marquessate titles), and one of five sisters, has always been a little different. When girls were excited about dresses and shoes, Pippa was more interested in bones, insects, plants, and everything else that young ladies weren't supposed to know about. Her family has never minded it and neither did she but, with three sisters already married, and her youngest sister engaged, Pippa feels it is time to conform with what is expected of her and gets engaged as well. Except, the engagement feels odd to her and, ever the scientist, Pippa wants to examine why.

Recognizing the immensity of the work ahead of her, Pippa sets out to hire an assistant and she has one, very specific candidate in mind: one of her new brother in-law's partners, Cross.

For six years, Cross has worked hard to make The Fallen Angel succeed. It is the one thing he has dedicated himself to, the one thing he is proud to have accomplished -- but it all came at a cost: he's had to abandon his name, his life, his legacy and his sister -- in order to become the man he is now.

It doesn't make sense to Cross why Philippa Marbury would seek him out with her shocking proposition. There are two other partners at The Fallen Angel so, why him?

She could have asked any number of people, foremost of which her own fiance, so, why did her desire for knowledge lead her to Cross?

Science is about the rational, the empirical -- it's foundations are facts and proven hypotheses. But science is also about delving deeper into the obvious to discover more about it: the universe, for example, is there -- but we want to know more about it, so we point our telescopes up to the sky to explore further.

Such is the case of Cross and Pippa. If they had left each other as they are, relying on what they knew and what they've heard, they would have concluded that Cross is a scoundrel and should be avoided at all times and that Pippa is impenetrably odd.

But, when Pippa arrives at Cross's office, the long-buried part of Cross, that man with a gift for numbers, suddenly comes to fore and is intrigued by the universe contained inside Pippa Marbury. This audacious woman who is far more interested in his abacus, and the mistaken tally in his ledger than in what people usually find fascinating about being in a gaming hell.

And, indeed, there is a universe of interesting and uninteresting facets to Pippa. She, who named her dog Trotula and who could name every bone on his arm. Now, what we are waiting for Cross to realize is that, his whole life, every excruciating moment of it, was all in preparation for this one moment with Pippa Marbury. That he is the one man who would see beyond what society usually sees ... And discover the quintessence of her.

In the same way, while Pippa listened to the gossip about Cross (part of her research), it was actually an extraneous factor when she finally concluded that he was "safe" -- perhaps the strangest way to describe a man who operates a hell. Pippa could not explain it, but she saw him as someone she could confide in, someone she could approach, someone she could share her thoughts with --

Our hero and heroine have wonderful chemistry and converse on the same wavelength: it's incredible how Cross is able to make sense of Pippa and vice versa. In keeping with the theme, how the couple come to discover love is quite an unusual, unexpected but passionate route. Through it all, Sarah MacLean presents a very convincing case that this is a couple that belong solely with each other. MacLean sustains the delicious tension that exists between Cross and Pippa as they gradually realize that, all the while, what they felt for each other was love.

She spoke to her hand. "It's just that ... since we met, I have been rather ... well, fascinated by ..."


Say it, he willed, not entirely certain what he would do if she did, but willing to put himself to the test.

She took another breath. "By your bones."

Would she ever say anything expected? "My bones?"

She nodded. "Yes. Well, the muscles and tendons, too. Your forearms. Your thighs. And earlier -- while I watched you drink whiskey -- your hands."

Cross had been propositioned many times in his life. He'd made a career of refusing women's requests. But he had never been complimented on his bones.

It was the strangest, sexiest confession he'd ever heard.
- p. 218

Is it Fate? Destiny? Will? Or a mix of everything that leads us to our soul mates? Like any intrepid endeavor (yes, science experiments included), One Good Earl Deserves a Lover shows us that we will only discover the answer when we throw the dice and take a chance. This was another thoroughly enjoyable book from Sarah MacLean. While the spotlight was on Cross and Pippa, I love the way she was able to develop Temple and Chase's characters. Temple's story is next. Can you say insta-buy? ^_^

One Good Earl Deserves a Lover is the second book in Sarah MacLean's Rule of Scoundrels series. To find out more about Sarah MacLean and her books, visit her website. She's also on Facebook and on Goodreads.


  1. Great review, Tin! I picked this one up, and now I can't wait to read it. :)

  2. I loved this book and I love Pippa and Cross. Many romance novels and HR for that matter would tell you that the hero and heroine are meant to be together but it takes the really great, really gifted authors to show this to the readers and that is what Sarah MacLean did so well in this novel. Just like you said, she presented a really convincing case that they do.

  3. Hi, Mingtsai!

    Thanks for dropping by! I love Sarah MacLean and I'm very excited for her next book.

    I visited your blog -- yes to Courtney Milan! (Her new book is coming out soon, I think. ^_^)



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