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Rules of Engagement (Warner Forever) [Mass Market Paperback]

Kathryn Caskie
2.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

28 May 2004 Warner Forever
If society misfit Eliza Merriweather can make it through the season without obtaining a marriage proposal, she can move to Italy with inheritance in hand and pursue her dream of becoming a painter. But Eliza's aunts will hear of no such thing, and have turned to an old military guidebook entitled Rules of Engagement to help them secure Eliza a husband. Attempting to thwart her aunts' match making, Eliza makes a deal with sexy Scotsman Magnus MacKinnon. She will help him find a rich young lady if he poses as her suitor, thereby dissuading other gentlemen. But between Magnus's kisses and her aunts' schemes to throw them together, Eliza finds it harder and harder to remember that she doesn't want to get married.


Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Warner Books (28 May 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446614238
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446614238
  • Product Dimensions: 18.1 x 10.4 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,253,420 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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First Sentence
Eliza Merriweather watched her sister pace the floor of their great aunts' Hanover Square town house with such unforgiving force that she was compelled to examine the Turkish carpet for damage. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
Eliza Merriweather doesn't want to marry; she wants to go to Italy to study painting. But then she loses her heart to a dashing Scottish Earl. Luckily, her two spinster aunts have an old military strategy manual with which to secure their niece's future happiness. So far, so not really that new, And not so good.

I know Kathryn Caskie won a prize for her (at the time still unpublished) manuscript. I just don't know why. "Her writing sparkles with wit and humor", gushes one of her fellow romance writers quoted on the cover - proof again that romance writers stick together closer than doctors in a negligence law suit. Personally, I did not find anything "sparkling" about this book or Miss Caskie's writing. In fact, hardly ever before have I been so untouched by the trials and tribulations of two star-crossed lovers. Yes, it is a romance novel, not "Romeo and Juliet", so chances are they will get together in the end (and a couple of times in between ...). The art lies, of course, in the suspension of disbelief. Sadly, here there is no suspension of any kind, or suspense, for that matter. The characters are one-dimensional, unbelievable and despite all this still horrendously annoying. The plot is laughable, contrived and stupefyingly drawn out. And there is absolutely no humour. You can tell exactly which scenes and verbal sparring bouts are supposed to be funny - none of them are. And don't even let me get started on the dottering aunts.

At the end of the book, there is an "Editor's Diary", but it is doubtful that any editor ever read the manuscript, at least any editor worth his or her salt.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Frustrating and disappointing 5 July 2004
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
I bought this book on the strength of the synopsis above, expecting a light and diverting read. From the first page I knew I was in for a disappointement.
The story is set during the Regency period but I found the dialogue and actions of the characters too crude to fit this period. The author has tried to write a historical romance using modern language and maners which felt crass and unbelievable.
At one point Eliza tries to create a fuller bosom by stuffing a handkerchief into her corset in the middle of a crowded drawing room, at another she makes a headlong flight through a crowded opera theatre perused by Magnus without anyone appearing to notice.
In addition to this I did not enjoy Kathryn Caskie's style of writing. Alliterations are used unsparingly and, for my taste, too much detail is given leaving no room for imagination e.g Eliza did not just sneeze on the Queen, she 'spewed saliva' in the Queen's face and an unwelcome suitor was a 'slimy garden slug' rather than just a slug.
Although I think the idea behind this book is brilliant, I cannot recomend it. The is no subtlety nor any feel for the period resulting in a crude and unlikely tale.
However, this book has won America's prestigious Golden Heart award so somebody somewhere likes it.
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5 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Diverting! 7 July 2004
By Fiona
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I read this novel in one full day. I was highly amused and found myself chuckling all day long. This is not a read for those who prefer staid tales where the heroine follows every societal rule. This heroine clearly does not, which is in large part what makes her so unique. This book is different and fresh and I highly recommend it.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  48 reviews
47 of 54 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Unengaged. 12 July 2004
By C. Vowels - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I bought this book mostly because of the quantity of good reviews I read here (you'd think I'd have learned by now) and elsewhere. Let's just say I was greatly disappointed.
Eliza Merriweather is a Regency English artist whose only dream is to go to Italy and study with the masters there. Hampered by the fact that she was born into a fairly good family and has two younger sisters along with two matchmaking great-aunts who are her guardians, Eliza is forced to endure one Season before she can run off to follow her dream. Though they know of her plans, her aunts, armed with their father's military strategy guide, are convinced they can find husbands for both Eliza and her debutante sister Grace.
Magnus MacKinnon, the Earl of Somerton, younger son of a dissolute Scottish lord has just inherited the family title after the death of his equally dissolute elder brother. Magnus, having been in the military prior to becoming the earl, is unprepared to deal with the enormous financial burdens he inherited and, having made what looks to be a very poor investment with his remaining funds, is faced with marrying money or losing everything. He meets the decidedly penniless Eliza shortly after she's committed a huge faux pas during her presentation.
This book is yet another unoriginal attempt to cash in on the appeal of humorous Historical Regency romances. From the first few pages with the dotty, matchmaking aunts and the too precocious heroine I could see disaster looming. This could have been a great story, if told the right way. There could have been believable problems with better portrayals of the protagonists. "Rules of Engagement" just doesn't doesn't deliver on its possibilities.
Eliza is an artist. Or so it seems. Sure, she says she's an artist, and we see her painting, but I never really believe it. Judging by her attitude and outlook, painting seems more like a hobby to her. I've known some artists in my time and know that they come in all shapes, sizes, creeds, and personalities, but there's one thing that tends to unify them, no matter their style or medium, and that is that their art is not just a 9 to 5 job, it's who they are and deeply affects nearly every aspect of their lives. I don't see Eliza looking at the world from what are believably an artist's eyes; she seems just like every other ninny of a Regency debutante in the romance world. Her conflict over her wish to study in Italy would have been brilliant if it would have been something I could buy into, but it wasn't. On top of the fact that I'm not sold on her commitment to her art, she's also incredibly selfish. Her sister Grace is made to seem like a self-centered brat toward the end, but I really think that depiction should belong to Eliza. She does some things that truly could compromise both of her sister's future prospects and doesn't even have the intelligence to realize it--and when they're pointed out to her, she's slightly contrite, but then commits the same mistakes again. I found her almost wholly unlikable when she could have been such a wonderful heroine and that's a shame.
Magnus barely exists for me. He's Scottish, but other than his brogue-ridden speech and a couple of statements, I would never guess. Apparently he was in the military too, but other than a few pat references, you would never know it. I feel the same way about Magnus's military career that I do about Eliza's being an artist. Also, Magnus makes some really dumb and selfish decisions. He makes an investment that is, as other characters point out, a horrible decision. He pursues Eliza, knowing he most likely cannot marry her, which seems really inconsiderate to me; at the least some cogency could have been added to a character who is mostly an enigma if he'd had to spend some real time pining after what he couldn't have instead of knowing he couldn't have it and trying to take it anyway. This character just didn't work for me at all.
Filled with matchmaking schemes, "cute" elderly relatives, wallpaper motivations, unpleasant characters and too-trite-to-stomach moments "Rules of Engagement" gets a two star rating from me. Why do I even give it two stars? Well, I will say that there are glimpses of promise in this book that elevate it above a total disaster; I really believe with better execution, it could have been excellent. The prose is very good, and it is at times very readable, it's only when the author tries too hard to be funny or cute that it doesn't work for me. I'd even say that I'd give this author another try if someone I trusted said her next work was worth the bother--I can see that there is some real potential here. All in all, though, I'd not recommend this book to anyone. You've seen it before, and you've seen it done better.
28 of 34 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I am sooo glad I got it from the library 1 July 2004
By Alena - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I put this book on my library list because of all the wonderful reviews on amazon. After getting into the book a bit I was shocked at how much I disliked it. I returned to amazon write this review to see that a few people share my opinion - good because I didn't know how I was going to be the lone negative reviewer! At times this book is rediculas. I literally had to force myself to finish it. "How to Marry a Marquis" by Julia Quinn used a similar situation where a woman used a "rule book" to woo a man, but Quinn is such a fantastic author that it worked. Lisa Kleypas writes of lawless Lily and even though you cannot think that it would work in Regency England propriety-wise - the love story is too good to be ruined by such things. Not so much passion here!!
Firstly, this plot has been done just too many times in romance that it is rediculas for a debut author to be using it. Some more experienced authors have pulled it off because they add a lot to the characters or have a real ability to make the reader "feel" the romance-but Caskie cannot pull it off. Maybe with a little more experience she might be great. I have a few friends who think that romance is the same old story over and over again with cookie cutter characters. Unfortunately this book feeds right into that misconception

Secondly, it is very lop sided where propriety is concerned. They talk about inpropriety in certain aspects of things and totally neglect it in more logical areas. The heroine, Eliza, walks around handing our cards to young men that say "thank you for not calling" to keep them away. I didn't get the humor in it at all really. I am not one to judge a book about inpropriety when they do not bring it up so often. Magnus says that Eliza going to Italy to paint will ruin her sister's chances of marriage? Her behavior will ruin their reputation! And it's not funny at all to me. How can her Aunts let Magnus spend the night but not let hervisit him unescorted? And Eliza sneezed on a member of the royal family? I don't think this is funny and it is too rediculas to imagine. It starts rediculas and it doesn't get better!

Thirdly, how many people is Eliza going to let push her around? Her aunts are totally unbelievable (locking the couple in a room together?!?!) and they just meddle in her life the entire book. SUpposedly they "mean well" but locking ELiza in a room with Magnus for the night is not romantic in the slightest. As if her unfortunate, and poorly written, "aunties" weren't enough Eliza's sister, Grace gets involved!

Lastly, unless there is a great GREAT, timeless romance (like, in my opinion, in "Whitney my Love" by McNaught)this back and forth relationship doesn't work! They like each other - but they won't admit it - and there is no passion. 200 pages into the book they are still just arguing along - which makes sense since they are so one dimensional characters - but the book is quite wordy without really saying anything. I didn't feel any relationship budding so if there is no anticipation I don't cannot sit around and read words for tons of pages waiting.
I just want people to know that I have never, ever written a review like this before. You can see my other reviews - in fact I was starting to think that I liked everything I read! :) As for a debut author this book lacks, in my opinion, any real unique qualities. She might be a great author - but this book isn't worth your time. But, just as I believe Julia Quinn's Splendid isn't one of her best works, I would love to see how this author turns out. A little experience goes a long way. If her next book on amazon does well I might be tempted to try again. I wanted to like the book and I am glad others do!
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Our book club LOVED this book. Very funny and romantic! 15 May 2004
By "romnovelreaderny" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
If you like a story that makes you laugh, then this is the book for you. We have 16 women in our book group ranging in ages from 19 to 73 and we all just loved it. We put it on our list for best romance of the year. The bookstore where we meet posts our recommendations each month and other readers use our list when choosing books.
This book is a lot like Julia Quinn's books and just as funny. Sometimes more! The hero is a sexy Scotsman named Magnus, who has a great sense of humor and knows what he wants in a woman. That woman is Eliza. She's a very intelligent and clever artist who has her heart set on going to Italy to train as an apprentice with master artists. Marriage is not in her plans but it is the number one goal of her two old aunts, Viola and Letitia, who decide they need to get serious about marrying Eliza off. They turn to their father's old book Rules of Engagement. But the book isn't about getting engaged to be married like the aunts believe, it's full of military strategies. Eliza soon realizes her aunts mistake, but doesn't want to hurt their feelings since they are so thrilled with their matchmaking plans. So she uses a strategy of her own and asked an earl new to London to pose as her suitor so her aunts will stop using military strategies on her from the war manual. In exchange she will help him find a bride with a large dowry, which he needs to save his home Somerton Hall. I don't want to give it all away, since there are a lot of very funny parts and twists. One part that made a few of us cry too.
We recommend this book to anyone who wants a moving romance plus a lot of laughs. Most of us read the book in two nights and not just because we were meeting on Thursday! Book groups will especially love this story because there are a lot of layers and emotions that are dealt with in the book. Eliza has a deep love for her family and has to choose between what is best for them and what her heart tells her is right. Also between her art and the love of her life. Her sister Grace wants to marry more than anything in the world and Eliza's deal with Magnus might hurt her chances to marry into a good family. The two aunts are my favorites. They are always up to something. The people in the book were so real that I even dreamed about the two aunts and Magnus!
Rules of Engagement is a wonderful romance that all 16 of us recommend to readers and book groups.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Passable, but not very engaging 19 Nov 2004
By Girl Friday Reader - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Caskie has an engaging, sparkling voice that can keep a reader reading over the most cliched, mundane, flat characters and plot. But that's about it. As other reviewers have stated, this plot is overdone and has been done by much more talented authors. As a debut book, it's simple enough to attract the interest of readers who like this sort of plot, but for a debut author, the amount of patience it took for me to read this book was monstrously disappointing and tedious. I am a bit sorry to say that I am relieved that I didn't pay full price for this book. The premise of two aunt's thrusting their charges out onto the ton with a book they mistake for a rule book on getting engaged was humorous for at least the first two chapters. After that, it began to grow flat. Eliza and Magnus were on the brink of becoming cliched card-board cut-outs; only Eliza's semi-valid reason for not wanting to wed saved them. The sexual tension between the two was cringe inducing and written very heavy handedly for such light-hearted and "asexual" protagonists(The main problem I have with humorous/light historicals: the focus on the humor is so much, the sensualness comes across as odd). After the first few chapters, the "conflict" between Magnus and Eliza began to pall and quickly became irritating considering the fact that the conflict between them wasn't as pressing nor as anxiety inducing as the characters saw it as. Place on top of that, Magnus' irritating brogue--I was under the assumption that educated Scottish noblepeople were normally educated in England, or at least with English tutors/governesses, therefore eliminating their Scottish accents--and the constant intrusion of Eliza's pushy aunts, her sister and the man who couldn't make up his mind(or the author couldn't make up her mind) over whether he wanted Eliza or Grace, and you have the passable, sometimes boring Rules of Engagement. I would try another Caskie because I would like to see her improve with each successive book, but if I had to choose between an author who has yet to prove themself to write wonderful reads and an auto-buy author, I'd choose the proven and tried author.
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Didnt like it. 13 Oct 2004
By Jennifer Banker - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I bought this book because of the reviews it got, but man. I almost had to break my own arm to finish reading it. See, here's the thing. There are some really good moments with the plot. Some of it was engaging and humerous. Thats it. I did not like the characters, their personalities, what little of their lives you see beyond the story. They were not alive enough. Grace grated a nerve, Magnus or whatever was a jerk half the time and Eliza was a ninny. I finished it so that I could see if it got any better at all, but although it was a very promising story, it flatlined in my book. I would not recommend this book to anyone. If curiosity wins out, got to the library. Dont waste money.
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