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When a famous Duke, a man so powerful and wealthy he dares argue with the Prince Regent himself, stumbles upon a beauty lying as if dead on a country highway, his troubles have only just begun. She has amnesia and can't explain who she is, or what happened to her, and he, despite a growing attraction for this enigmatic young woman, is already betrothed to someone else! What will be the outcome of all this? The answer to that question lies in Maggie Andersen's exciting new Regency Romance, Rules of Conduct.
Rules of Conduct opens with the third Duke of Vale, Hugh Beauchamp, hurrying home from London. He has yet again, although unsuccessfully, tried to heal the breach between himself and the Prince Regent. Now, having failed, he only wants to go home and be alone for a while, despite the fact that this means he is leaving his bride-to-be alone in London.
When his carriage almost runs over a body lying in the country lane, Hugh, fearful this is just a ploy by evil highwaymen, warily exits his vehicle. Rather than finding robbers waiting to pounce, he discovers the body is that of a striking young woman. She is not dead, but only unconscious. With the help of trusted servants, he brings her to his estate. Judging by her clothing, Hugh assumes she is of low class, for she is dressed as a man might be, and filthy into the bargain.
When the mysterious Viola (so temporarily named by Hugh for a woman in Shakespeare's play, Twelfth Night) awakens, she finds she has no memory. Now summoned to the Duke's presence, she is fearful of the outcome. He has half a mind to send her packing to the servants' quarters, but when he hears her cultivated speech and later discovers that she knows Latin, Hugh realizes that here is a mystery, indeed. Whoever this youthful, blonde-haired person is, she is no mere servant girl!
But the question remains, who is this mysterious "Viola?" Where does she come from? Why was she lying unconscious in the lane, dressed as a man, and covered in dirt? What is the meaning of the locket, the only feminine item she wears? Moreover, what is Hugh now to do with her? He doesn't feel he can treat her as a lowly servant, but neither does he know her true origins. Worse, Hugh is now developing feelings for Viola. For a man already betrothed, this is not a good thing! Even worse, he suspects she is beginning to feel the same way about him! Only complications can result.
Maggie Andersen's Rules of Conduct is "a right saucy tale," as they say, and one done in the finest traditions of Regency Romances. Although the overall tone of the tale is light, as such romances are meant to be, this book has a good plot, shows in-depth historical research, and develops its characters amazingly well. Maggie Andersen, it seems, has a real flair for Regency Romances. Her Rules of Conduct shows a brilliant attention to detail, moves at a fast pace, and makes the reader care about what happens to the main characters.
Maggie Andersen is terrific at making the time period come alive, so much so, that for precious hours I was transported there, living in the bright, colorful life of London's Ton society at the height of the English Regency period. So, for those who wish to escape our own time, travel to another, and meet new and fun people, Rules of Conduct is a must read. I highly recommend this delightful tale of two such star-crossed lovers! Rules of Conduct justly deserves the rating of 8 out of 10. And, Maggie Andersen appears to be a new force with which to be reckoned. I look forward with real interest to more novels by her! In fact, I can hardly wait!
Reviewed By Rob Shelsky