Lady Calpurnia Hartwell (Callie to her friends), is an acknowledged spinster. She sits in the ‘spinster seating’ at balls and wears the lace hat that denotes her as such. At the age of 28 she knows no one would ever offer for her and has resigned herself to her fate. Her romantic inclinations, caused by reading endless romance novels, are left unsatisfied despite fantasies of a chance meeting 10 years ago in her début season. When her 18 year old sister falls in love and is betrothed in her first season, Callie eventually decides she has had enough of being a simple spinster and decides to make a list of things she wants to do, starting with being kissed. Passionately!
Gabriel, Marquess of Ralston is a notorious rake whose reputation is well known. When he meets Lady Calpurnia hiding in the garden at a society ball he engages her in conversation but forgets her as soon as he leaves, little knowing the impact he had on the then 18 year old. Ten years on he is surprised with a half sister he did not know existed, and despite her being the very image of his despised mother he knows he must do all he can to bring her out into society. Knowing he will need some female help with this, his opportunity arrives when that very evening a lady shows up in his bedchamber asking for a kiss.
I really enjoyed this story. In so many books the lady ‘left on the shelf’ is still only 22/23. Having a 28 year old be the heroine, someone well and truly confined to the shelf, made a refreshing change. As an acknowledged spinster Callie has much more freedom than other young ladies and I loved her attitude. I really found myself drawn into the story and when it seemed she might get discovered doing something outrageous I felt my pulse beat faster as if I was there with her, willing her to make it. I was so involved in the story, at one point I was even holding my breath!
I have read a lot of historical romance and this by far rates among my favourites. Other than the girl meets boy part, the plot was totally unique; the idea of the list and the things on it – totally scandalous!
Without a doubt I will be looking out for more books by Sarah Maclean.