She ascended another step before turning back. The additional height brought them eye to eye. “I don’t understand. What is temptation, then?”
“Temptation…” He hesitated, and she found herself leaning forward, eager for this curious, unsettling lesson. “Temptation turns you. It makes you into something you never dreamed, it presses you to give up everything you ever loved, it calls you to sell your soul for one, fleeting moment.”
The words were low and dark and full of truth, and they hovered in the silence for a long moment, an undeniable invitation. He was close, protecting her from toppling off the block, the heat of him wrapping around her despite the cold. “It makes you ache,” he whispered, and she watched the curve of his lips in the darkness. “You’ll make any promise, swear any oath. For one… perfect… unsoiled taste.”
Sarah MacLean is one of my few auto-buy historical romance authors. She writes love stories that appeal to me on all levels, weaving together smart heroines, sexy, slightly damaged heroes, witty dialogue and very sensual love scenes. One Good Earl Deserves a Lover is the second book in her The Rules of Scoundrels series, and now one of my favorite MacLean books to date. I adored this book. This is one of the most well crafted, slow, tempting, sensual love stories I’ve read in ages.
Pippa is the fourth daughter of the Marquess of Needham and Dolby, a sassy, smart, slightly odd girl brought up in the unforgiving world of the ton. With her wedding only two weeks away she decides she has no desire to be unknowledgable about one of the most important parts of marriage, what goes on in the bedroom. She settles on Cross, one of the partners of her brother-in-law in the gaming hell The Fallen Angel, who she wants to be her “research partner”. Cross is the deliciously sexy book-keeper of the Fallen Angel, after falling asleep in his office one evening he awakes to Pippa and her research proposition. He must teach her all about ruination, in a purely scientific way of course.
Pippa is quite simply a fantastic heroine. She is brilliant, with her interest in science and horticulture and the human body. I love a girl who knows exactly who she is, embraces it and lives true to herself regardless of what society thinks. I believe she is perfectly matched in Cross, who trades barbs and snappy dialogue with her throughout the book. As much as Cross tries to out smart her in their battle to see if she will actually get any “research” done, she continually finds a way to get her own way. The sexual tension between these two is some of the best I’ve seen, but written in a way that shows how captivated these bright characters are with each other:
She spoke to her hands. “It’s just that… since we met, I have been 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–by 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.
What follows is one of the sexiest love scenes in historical romance, and these two never even touch. Cross is a very adept dirty talker and I about melted while he was giving Pippa a lesson in temptation and pleasure with just his words and her hands involved. Cross and Pippa fall for each other because neither is what the other expects. Cross wants Pippa because she is clever and manages to out maneuver him at every turn, while still being sexy enough to keep him wanting her. Pippa is someone who doesn’t believe in shades of gray, only black and white and what science can prove, but Cross continually teaches her about a side of life she never knew existed. One of seduction, scandal and love. I think they were both shocked by how much they felt for each other.
She was lost, claimed, fairly consumed by the intensity of the kiss, and for the first time in her life, Pippa gave herself up to emotion, pouring every bit of her desire and her passion and her fear and her need into this moment. This caress.
This man, who was everything she had never allowed herself to dream she would find.
This man, who made her believe in friendship. In partnership.
The ending is so wonderful, so fantastic. I loved that Pippa saved herself by being herself. Her sharp wits saved the day, and really, could it have ended any other way? Even Cross didn’t see it coming. Sarah MacLean delivers another beautiful, richly textured love story that left me sighing. I would recommend her and any one of her books to readers looking for a good historial romance. I have great hope that Temple’s book is next… Final grade: A
It was the years of celibacy. After six years, any kiss would be this powerful. This earth-shattering.
It was her.
It would always be her.