The second in the incredible new Rules of Scoundrels series from New York Times bestselling author Sarah MacLean.
Lady Philippa Marbury is odd. The bespectacled, brilliant fourth daughter of the Marquess of Needham and Dolby cares more for books than balls, flora than fashion and science than the season. Nearly engaged to Lord Castleton, Pippa wants to explore the scandalous parts of London she’s never seen before marriage. And she knows just who to ask: the tall, charming, quick-witted bookkeeper of The Fallen Angel, London’s most notorious and coveted gaming hell, known only as Cross.
Like any good scientist, Pippa’s done her research and Cross’s reputation makes him perfect for her scheme. She wants science without emotion—the experience of ruination without the repercussions of ruination. And who better to provide her with the experience than this legendary man? But when this odd, unexpected female propositions Cross, it’s more than tempting . . . and it will take everything he has to resist following his instincts—and giving the lady precisely what she wants– Goodreads
Lady Philippa is a lady of society and she is the sister of the heroine in the first novel in the series. Pippa has always been considered weird, we got hints of that in the first novel. She’s a woman of science who is far more interested in books that the balls, or even fashion of the season. She is coming up on her marriage to Lord Castleton and has no real interest in him, or marriage in general. She knows she’s “unique” and has no real chance at marriage, but she also knows that her sister and family is overly worried about her and the fact that someone is interested in her is making Lord Castleton a catch. He doesn’t excite her intellectually or in any other way, but she has accepted her fate.
Pippa wants knowledge of what to expect of her wedding night. She refuses to go to her brother-in-law or her sister, and instead goes to their friend, Cross. Oh Cross, who is the pure alpha male of the romance novel and who wants nothing to do with Pippa. Cross is friends, and in a business relationship with Michael, her brother-in-law. He is very much hands off Pippa, even though he knows that Pippa is not in love with her betrothed. While Michael and Penelope know that she doesn’t love Pippa, Pippa won’t change her mind. She views this as a business transaction and nothing more. While she is fine with this, she is jealous of Michael and Penelope, which she doesn’t understand. She doesn’t believe in love or a love relationship she sees how those two treat each other and she wants that. She knows that she doesn’t have that with Castleton, which is illustrated to the reader via a very awkward dance.
Pippa and Cross quickly bond and find themselves drawn to each other, even when they don’t want to be. During this time, the two discuss things they never discussed with, for example she actually wants to marry for love. Which is of course shocking for that time period, even though her sister is clearly in love with her husband, it never occurred to Pippa that one could marry for love. Pippa knows what love is. She sees it in the eyes of Cross when he looks at this mystery woman and her heart hurts at the thought of it. What Pippa isn’t aware of is the fact that this is Cross’ sister she assumes the worse. That they are lovers and what she feels for Cross is just a flighting feeling and she continues to accept her life and future with Castleton.
Of course the more the two try to stay apart the more the are drawn to each other. Their first kiss was…breathtaking and they quickly realize that there is a reason they are drawn to each other. And it heartbreaking because there are clearly feelings for each other, but she is still engaged, to a man she has no feelings for. Cross believes that Pippa could never love him, and Pippa is loyal and bound to duty.
This was everything that I could ask for in a historical romance novel. I’m glad I finally gave this genre a chance.