These days, that could be the start of a story about a missed connection that turned into a marriage, how you jump started your career, a horror story or the tale of the demise of our democratic republic as we know it.
Today, it’s just the beginning of the story of how we came to know and love all things Sarah MacLean here on That’s Normal.
We are doing a little celebrating of Sarah today here. Tonight, we will be LIVE with her for the first time in a special edition of Boozy Book Club. I honestly can’t believe that this is the first time that we’ve had the chance to sit down with Sarah “face to face” considering we’ve been reading and recommending her books since 2013, and since she is the standard by which we judge all regency and the romance guru we go to in order to better understand the genre. Sarah’s regular column in the Washington Post is the gold standard of romance novel recs. Her twitter feed is the place where readers and authors alike find solace and solidarity. And her novels? Well, that’s where all the good stuff we love lives.
How Did We Find Sarah MacLean?
Again, it all started with a random tweet. One I don’t even remember that well. But someone on my timeline in the year of our Lord, two thousand thirteen, mentioned how the hottest scene they’d read in a loooooooong time was in the newest Sarah MacLean novel, One Good Earl Deserves a Lover. I almost did a double take because that couldn’t possibly be a real book title. Don’t shame me, but I had never – EVER – read an historical or regency romance at that point. I was a complete newbie to the genre, but I looked Sarah up anyway. Turns out, the book was the 2nd in series, so I like a good book nerd, I read the first one, A Rogue By Any Other Name. And I liked it, but I really wanted to see what made that “hottest scene ever” happen in Earl, so I was off to the races to get that book. Reader, I couldn’t stop.
Oh, that sweet summer of 2013. I read a lot of good books that summer. Books that still mean a lot to me, and that I still think about all the time. That was the summer of The Bronze Horseman, when I realized that my love for tragic historical romance went way beyond Outlander, and that Shura beat JAMMF every time.
But reading Sarah’s books opened something new: I realized that I didn’t need tragedy and craziness to appreciate a romance story. I realized that some of what I’d been reading wasn’t really romance at all. I loved the formulaic. I loved the happily ever after. I loved the sure thing. And I loved the way Sarah MacLean gave them to me.
It didn’t take long for me to get Bekah on board, and we began to devour Sarah’s books, and the regency romance genre EN MASSE.
Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake: Lady Calpurnia and Ralston. The on the shelf spinster with a list of rules to break and a bad boy to help her do it. I always remember her hideous dress, and Gabriel sauntering into her brother’s study, soaking wet, just to tell him he’d thoroughly compromised his sister.
Ten Ways to Be Adored When Landing a Lord: Ralston’s TWIN brother, Nicolas St. John has been named one of London’s Lords to Land, and he ain’t having it. But he find himself falling for Isabel, who needs a lord herself to get out from under her dead father’s debts, but refuses to love him. I remember giggling every time they talked about buying “marbles” because I was picturing tiny glass balls, not statues.
Eleven Scandals to Start to Win a Duke’s Heart: Ralston and St John’s little Italian half-sister likes to make waves with stuffy-ass Duke of Leighton. All you need to know about him: he’s so great that Heidi named her daughter after him.
The Rules of Scoundrels: We’ve already talked about A Rogue by Any Other Name (poor, jilted Penelope from Eleven Scandals gets her Bourne), and One Good Earl, wherein her sister Pippa meets Cross, one of Bourne’s 3 partners in the popular gaming hell, Fallen Angel. But the third and fourth novels in this series, No Good Duke Goes Unpunished and Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover changed the regency game for me. SO GOOD.
The Scandal and Scoundrel series starts off with The Rogue Not Taken: Sophie and King’s story is one for the ages – forced proximity on a long carriage ride to Scotland. He doesn’t want to be trapped in marriage by a scheming girl from a notorious family, and she wants nothing to do with him. The characters in this one take you for a ride.
A Scot in the Dark was the first regency romance I ever gave five stars to (I’m a stingy, stingy mean-spirited reviewer), but I loved it so so much. In Lily and Alec’s story I began to see how Sarah was growing as an author and giving her readers even more relevance in the gilded world of regency era. The 19th century equivalent of revenge porn or leaked nudes created the perfect set up to reveal the different ways we view sexuality between the sexes.
The Day of the Duchess: Much has been written about this one, including Heidi’s awesome review. But let’s just remember: Sarah turned the Duke of Haven, an actual CHEATER into a hero we rooted for AND kept this regency romance feminist AF. It was the best.
And that brings us to her newest, Wicked and the Wallflower – the first in her Bareknuckle Bastards series. It’s what we will be talking about tonight LIVE with Sarah, so make sure you join us.
I hope you enjoyed this little trip down That’s Normal memory lane. It’s kind of hard to believe that before 2013 we weren’t reading regency romance, and we hadn’t heard of Sarah MacLean or all the amazing historical romance authors she’s introduced us to since then. Tonight, we get to thank her for all the ripped bodices.
Do you have burning questions that need answering from Sarah? Share your questions with us in the comments and we will ask her tonight!