Review: Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke’s Heart by Sarah MacLean

I was really uncertain about whether or not I would like this book. The first book in the series was a big hit for me, but the second book was a letdown. I loved the tension between Simon and Juliana in the first book, but in the second Simon crossed over from being cold and arrogant (which is not necessarily a bad thing) into an outright ass. His behavior of a certain family member severely dropped his appeal in my eyes. I was hesitant to start this, but the first chapter sucked me in right away, so my hopes started to rise.

I was really into the book in the first half. Juliana and Simon sparred back and forth and the tension was high. Simon’s coldness didn’t bother me as much as it might have bothered others. I liked watching him struggle with what he desired and what he was raised to believe was right. It was fun to see him get swept into situations he would have preferred to avoid, all because he couldn’t resist Juliana (or Juliana’s challenge).

I loved getting a deeper look at Juliana. Her situation was pretty tragic. No matter what she did or how well she behaved, she couldn’t help but stand apart from the rest of the ton. She had my sympathy from the start. That said, she didn’t try very hard to behave. I know that it’s hard to want to curry favor with the very people who sneer at you, but putting yourself into scandalous situations again and again, and then being upset that people think you’re scandalous, is pretty stupid. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed watching the fallout after the situations combusted, but my sympathy about the ton misjudging her started to wane.

I knew going into this book that Simon would need a lot of growth to get beyond his upbringing. I felt very bad for how it must have been growing up in that family, but that doesn’t change the fact that he could be a huge jerk. But I was expecting to see that. What I wasn’t expecting was to see so much growth needed in Juliana as well. In the last couple books it was very apparent that she was untutored in the ways of the ton. She seemed full of life and a tad wild, but she never seemed as immature as she did in this one. Simon was absolutely right when he said that she was like a child, never looking beyond the moment.

Although I enjoyed the beginning of the book (and found it very quotable), I felt that it began to peter out in the second half. The banter stopped and it felt like we were spinning in circles. Horrible as it is to say, boring circles. Also, once Simon stopped being cold and caring he became so sweet and emotive that it was ridiculous. Every time he called her “Siren” I had a hard time resisting the urge to roll my eyes. And don’t get me wrong, I like a good public demonstration of feelings as much as the next girl, but that combined with the rest of his totally uncharacteristic behavior made me wince for him. The book got so sugary that I practically got a tooth ache just reading it.

I don’t usually have a problem going with the flow when I’m enjoying a book, but as my interest begins to dim I have a hard time not noticing things that make no sense. One of the biggest things in this book was how utterly absurd I found it that Simon was so worried about the scandal crippling his family name. He was a duke. They weren’t a dime a dozen, and they outranked pretty much all other nobles. You could be reprehensible and society as a whole would still curry favor with you. Because you were a duke, for Christ’s sake. So how exactly would that situation ruin the family name instead of just giving it a couple dents?

Although I only really loved one book in this trilogy, I still plan to pick up this author’s next work. I enjoy her style of writing and if I can find another gem like the first book then it’ll be worth it.

Favorite Quotes:

“Why must you constantly test me?”

“I do care, you know. I do care what you think.”

“Then why?”

“Because you expect me to fail. You expect me to do wrong. To be reckless. To ruin myself.”

“Why not work to prove me wrong?”

“But don’t you see? I am proving you wrong. If I choose recklessness, where is the failure? If I choose it for myself, you cannot force it upon me.”

Rating: C+
Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke’s Heart by Sarah MacLean
May 1st 2011 by Avon 
Historical Romance
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  1. says

    Oh I really liked this one! At first I wasn’t sure I would connect with Juliana but her little English slips were endearing and the fact that she liked to conjugate verbs when she got nervous made me smile.

    • says

      Those little quirks were so charming! Especially the vocabulary slips. When she said she was called a pie, but really meant a tart, I giggled.

  2. says

    Maybe Simon was just prone to being a worry wart? Some people are you know. LOL. :)

    I’ve read lots of good reviews on this one. Looking forward to checking it out at some point. Putting it on the wish list.

    • says

      Completely possible. 😉 Most of my friends have adored this one, so my little irritants didn’t even register with them. I hope when you read it you’re just like them and wind up with an A worthy book!

  3. says

    I liked towards the end how their situations reversed. Simon didn’t care about a scandal anymore, but Juliana did.

    I haven’t read her previous books, but might check out book one. Didn’t you mention in an earlier post that she has a new series coming out? Is it pnr?

    • says

      Yes, I liked that switch up. You haven’t read book one? *le gasp*

      She has another series called The Fallen Angel coming out. The first book, A Rogue By Any Other Name comes out 2/28/12. I’m just going to quote the description of the book that I found on Sarah MacLean’s webpage because I’m lazy. 😉

      A Rogue By Any Other Name

      Four Scandals, whispered about in ballrooms across Britain.

      Four aristocrats, exiled from society, now royalty in the London underworld.

      Four loves, powerful enough to tame the darkness and return these fallen angels to the light.

      The first book of The Fallen Angel
      a new quartet from Sarah MacLean
      Coming February 2012

  4. Ann F says

    Just finished this last nght and I totally agree with your review. Usually I’m willing to let a lot of stuff slide when I read a romance novel but I just found Simon painfully unlikable. His change of heart at the end all felt a little too contrived for me. But, like you, the first book was so good that I will gladly buy the author’s next book and hope for the best!

    • says

      I needed a slower transition and less of an abrupt 180 for me to believe in his change. I’m hoping for the best with the next book, though. :)

  5. ClaudiaGC says

    I so agree with your review! Finally someone who loved the first book as much as I did. And yes, the Siren thing got on my nerves, too. Strange thing is that when Gabriel said Empress (I think, at least) to Callie I thought it so sweet every time. And I never could really relate to Simon, which makes me sad because I love heroes like him. Anyway, can’t wait for her next series now!

    • says

      Gabriel’s pet name didn’t bother me either. I think it was because it felt more natural for his personality. Simon had always been cold and rather removed, not the type to invite public displays of affection. So it felt weird to see him do an about face and start with the cutesy pet names so fast.