I feel like a traitor for rating a Sarah MacLean less than 3 stars and yet, here we are. Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke’s Heart has a great premise and a trope that I’ve always loved, but the characters annoyed me way too much to appreciate their story.
I liked the opposites attract thing Julianna and Simon had going. And I probably would’ve enjoyed it more if I didn’t dislike the two main characters so much. The push-and-pull, hot-and-cold nature of their relationship grated. It was cute at first. A chance meeting with the daring and carefree Julianna upended Simon’s orderly world. The attraction was instant and mutual. And then he realized she was the illegitimate daughter of a disgraced Countess, and suddenly, she’s off limits and not good enough for the Duke. Julianna for her part fell for the Duke of Disdain, despite warnings from her friends, until he insulted her and her family. And then it just devolved into these two behaving stupidly and making even stupider decisions.
Good riddance! I was torn between banging my head against the wall or hurling the book against the same said wall!
Julianna was a standout in the previous books. Her growing relationship with her step brothers, her friendship with Callie were some of my favorites in Nine Rules to Break. That was still present here. A seeming bright spot in an otherwise annoying book. BUT I was disappointed with her behavior. I disliked how she keeps calling Penelope ‘Grape’ because she’s plain and uninteresting, despite not really knowing her! For someone who has been judged in the past, she should’ve recognized her own behavior. But noooo! Her impulsive and often head scratching antics wasn’t the thing that made me dislike her. It was her lack of self-awareness. Every time she calls Penelope, the Grape, I wanted to reach out and slap some sense into her. I dunno why but that one really bothered me.
But it wasn’t Julianna who sunk this book for me. It was Simon. His continues waffling and his stubbornness and the way he led Penelope and Julianna on for 90% of the book was exhausting! I could understand his behavior up to a point, but he did not do anything except whine about how hard it is to make a decision, or whine about how trap he is. He did not make a decision. Even his decision of finally admitting his feelings for Julianna and choosing her came about because his sister threw herself under the bus for him!
His public declaration was a little too late. He did not even grovel enough. Ugh. I just hated how passive Simon is. I could’ve forgiven him for realizing that he can’t leave without Julianna but he did not do any emotional work at all. None. Julianna, his sister, and Penelope did all the emotional labor for this one. It wasn’t until the end that he got taken down a peg but after what Julianna went through and the fall out Penelope had to deal with, he got off easy.