One Good Earl Deserves a Lover continues Sarah MacLean's series about a group of scoundrels who run a London casino--whoops, I mean a gaming hell--and fall in love with appropriately exasperating women (because if they didn't exasperate the hero then there'd be no plot).
The hero is Cross, an earl with a sad backstory, a ridiculous guilt trip (five or six sessions with a good therapist could have saved him a world of hurt), and a self-imposed vow of celibacy. He can't stay away from Pippa, a scientifically minded virgin who's two weeks away from marrying the wrong man and comes to Cross to conduct a series of "scientific experiments" (i.e. ask him about sex).
Cross was fine, Pippa was fine, but somehow it took me almost a month to finish this book. Part of it is that I've read a lot of MacLean recently and some of her writing quirks started to grate. How many times can you refer to a carriage as a "conveyance"? Do romance novelists abide by some little-known law requiring them to describe every pour of whisky as an "amber liquid"? There was also a really repetitive writing structure that grew annoying to read:
Tonight, however, Cross doubted them. Doubted their keen, unwavering ability to win.
Too much was riding on Pandemonium tonight. Too much that he couldn't control. Too much that made him desperate to win.
As I read, I couldn't help but wonder. Wonder if she writes this way in every book. Wonder if she'd have smoothed some of these fragments out if she weren't on a deadline.
Finally, I have to light the flare gun that I always fire into the heavens when I read a romance novel with a redheaded hero. I don't have anything against gingers, but do keep in mind that if the hero of a romance novel is described as a tall, lanky redhead it's damn near impossible not to picture Conan O'Brien the whole time.