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Rules Of Engagement (Warner Forever) Mass Market Paperback – 28 May 2004
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Top customer reviews
I know Kathryn Caskie won a prize for her (at the time still unpublished) manuscript.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. Sentences are strung together without any inherent logic: Eliza closes her eyes, then feels her eyelids getting heavy but resists the urge to close them at the very last moment; in one of the love scenes Magnus moves on top of her three times within the space of roughly half a page - without ever moving off Eliza in between, though at that speed they would probably just both get seasick from all that motion. The list goes on and on. The sad truth is that Miss Caskie has no flair for language. This is painfully obvious in her love scenes which are neither romantic nor sexy (I don't think I have ever seen french kissing described as often and in such detail). It is even more obvious when Miss Caskie tries to recreate the atmosphere of Regency London. There is the usual name-dropping, of course, and many of those cute little phrases and expressions they were so fond of in Regency times. But it all feels like the text was deliberately sprinkled with them while the rest of the writing is strictly modern (and not very accomplished). On top of that, Miss Caskie really should be more thorough in her research: Some of the expressions were not actually in use in Regency times (or, at least, had a different meaning), others are uttered by the wrong class or in a way which actually would have made them an insult. Some of the facts should have been checked more carefully, too: I sincerely doubt that simply doning a mask would have allowed you to gatecrash a masquerade at Almack's. And then there is the mad morning when Magnus has a wedding scheduled in church, afterwards goes to get a special licence to marry his true love, then shortly after breakfast catches up with a just eloping couple in St. Albans (the couple obviously had a fast coach, and Magnus a very fast horse; ah well, they probably wanted to be in Gretna Green by evening), then returns to London around lunchtime and marries in the afternoon. Even today you would be hard pressed to make that particular round trip within the given time frame. But then again, they didn't have congestion in those days ...
There are by now three more instalments of this story and Miss Caskie has since the publication of "Rules of Engagement" become a bestselling author with many loyal fans. But all this doesn't change the fact that for me the book was one of the most disappointing reads for some time. It is not even bad enough to be funny; it is just bad.
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.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
how very disappointing
thank goodness the rest of the series i will be able to hear
The "rules" before every chapter are cute and funny but it seems to be taking me a long time to get into this book.
Oh how I really wanted to get into this book but I just couldn't. There just was no story here.
Annoying how Magnus says "ye" every time, just once say "you" Please! I know, I know, he is Scottish but saying "ye, verra, canna," seem to be the only time he resembles a Scottish man.
I felt like the author was so concerned about getting the setting right, Regency periord, she forgot about the story. Every regency cliché was in this story.
I felt as if this book was some super hot guy, damn fine to look at and you are excited to meet him, but then he opens his mouth and you are severely disappointed and you just want to say "Shush, just stand there and look pretty". I wanted this book to be good! I would have honestly gave it a F rating except for the fact the author did have an intriguing story plot, but simply did not execute it well.
The secondary romance involving Grace, Eliza's sister, and Lord Hawkmoor was forgettable. Grace came off as bitchy for most of the book and I can't even think of Lord Hawkmoor's first name; never knew him at all.
I honestly don't know how people liked this book (if you are one of the people please let me know what you liked about it ) maybe I am missing something here but I didn't find it funny or a fast-paced enjoyable read. All I can say is "Lud!" this book sucked and I will not be continuing with this series at this time.
Eliza and Grace's meddling old maid aunts, Letitia and Viola, have poor eyesight, and are therefore convinced that one of their late father's last book purchases, "Rules of Engagement" was meant to help them find husbands. While the single life agreed with them, they're now ready to help their grandnieces find and capture their perfect matches, a difficult task as neither Eliza nor Grace has a dowry. Unable to read the finer print, they easily reinterpret the militaristic intent of each chapter's heading.
Beginning with the first rule, "Those whose ranks are united in purpose will be victorious" they lay out an at times absurd yet cunning trap to wed the reluctant Eliza to the equally reluctant Lord Magnus, a fortune-hunter determined to find a wealthy bride to save his family's legacy.
The romance was drawn out yet believable. The dialog was witty and flowed well with the story, and the scenes the author portrays were so vividly detailed that I still believe they must have truly happened in some alternate universe. Even 8 months after I first read this book, the details remain remarkably fresh in my mind.
Kathryn Caskie's debut novel teaches us that some things are worth fighting for, and reminds us that "all's fair..." Receiving two nods for the 2005 RITA award, and winner of the RWA's prestigious Golden Heart Award in 2002, this book makes an excellent addition to any romance-lover's collection.