Constance Lysander needs a husband. Or, so society says. She’s about to give birth to her late husband’s child—a man who left her with zero money, and two other wives she didn’t know about. Thankfully, she has her Aunt by her side, and the two other wives have become close friends. But still—with a baby on the way, her shipping business to run, and an enemy skulking about, she has no time to find the perfect match.
Enter Jonathan, Earl of Sykeston. Returned war hero and Constance’s childhood best friend, his reentry into society has been harsh. Maligned for an injury he received in the line of duty, Jonathan prefers to stay out of sight. It’s the only way to keep his heart from completely crumbling. But when a missive from Constance requests his presence—to their marriage ceremony—Jonathan is on board. His feelings for Constance run deep, and he’ll do anything to make her happy, though it means risking his already bruised heart.
With Constance, Jonathan, and the new baby all together, it’s clear the wounds—both on the surface and in their relationship—run deep. But when the nights come, their wounds begin to heal, and both come to realize that their marriage of convenience is so much more than just a bargain.
This is an adult 18+ story that may contain language, possible violence, and/or sexual situations geared to an adult audience.
Title: Rules for Engaging the Earl
Series: The Widow Rules #2
Author: Janna MacGregor
Genre: Historical Romance, Regency Romance
Published: April 26, 2022
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
My Rating: 4 stars
Rules for Engaging the Earl is the second title in The Widow Rules series (trilogy) and it sizzles with underlying tensions, a second chance love, and a realistic take on a war injury that today we call PTSD.
Constance and Jonathan were once friends, well, more than friends before both of their worlds changed. Jonathan was off to war, and although they had strong feelings between them he asked Constance to not wait for him to return should she decide to marry another for they both knew there was no guarantee of his returning from war. Sadly, her deceitful, dead husband had come along with his lies and pretty plans… for stealing her dowery and moving on to the next woman to steal from and to marry. Constance is now a widow (or whatever another wife of a man who still had a legal wife was called) and a soon-to-be mother who was now penniless, with no way to provide for her child. She knew that Jonathan had returned from the war, although he hadn’t reached out to her or it seems anyone else. She had the perfect plan, but Jonathan had to agree – so she sent him an invitation to their wedding, a marriage of convenience to save them each in society’s eyes… not to mention those not quite buried feelings between them.
I adored Constance. She’s a strong woman who when faced with the situation she’s found herself in takes charge of her own destiny by reaching out to a man she still cares for even though he’s shunning everyone he once knew because of his own circumstances. She’s not a downtrodden, helpless miss but a woman who isn’t afraid of her own desires or shy in wanting the man she invites into a marriage of convenience. I loved watching Jonathan slowly move from the man he’d become due to his war experiences into the man he would become because of Constance’s actions, her obvious love for him even if he saw it as a love for the man he once was not the man he is now for far too long.
Rules for Engaging the Earl is many things with a touch of beauty and the beast, a mystery to solve, a second chance at getting love right, and a healing story of two souls wounded in far different ways (if they’d even acknowledge that). At the heart, it’s a very good story with emotional highs and lows, definitely sizzling sexy moments, friendships born from unlikely circumstances, and two people finding their way back to each other, a bit changed but still solid in their love for each other. I enjoyed myself immensely and will be watching for the next story in this trilogy.
*I received an e-ARC of this novel from the publisher via NetGalley. That does not change what I think of this story. It is my choice to leave a review giving my personal opinion about this book.*
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