Rules Engagement

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2011-03-11
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publications
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The Rules of Engagement: Choose a bride from this year's debutantes. Decide on a proper settlement. Send an announcement to The Times. Inform the bride of her good fortune. Rules of Respectability Devon Mathewes, earl of Kerrich, has a plan that is sure to restore him to the Queen's favor.First, he must hire a sensible, unattractive governess. Next, he will see to adopting a properly grateful orphan, which will surely lend him a patina of respectability. Finally, he must obtain a guarantee that his orphan and the governess will better his character and reputation without unduly disturbing his life--love life or otherwise. Rules of Passion As a condition of accepting the governess position, Miss Pamela Lockhart of the Distinguished Academy of Governesses has a few rules of her own. Devon at all times must behave with propriety, an unlikely accomplishment that would delight the ton and completely astonish Pamela herself. She must be allowed to choose a suitable orphan at her own discretion. Most important, Devon must vow to neverever delve into Pamela's background, or her appearance, lest he discover the truth behind the deepest secrets of her heart. But of course, all rules are made to be broken . . . Rules of Engagement


Rules of Engagement

Chapter One

Miss Pamela Lockhart knew that proper behavior could guide a governess through any trying situation. The rules were straightforward: never become too familiar with your employer, always take your meals upstairs on a tray, and remember your station at all times. But what happens when your employer is devastatingly handsome... and his behavior is anything but proper?

"You consider marriage the sure route to misery."

"Not really." He stroked his chin, a gesture he had adopted from his grandfather. "The trick to marriage is not letting expectations get in the way. A man needs to understand why women get married, that's all."

Her mouth drew down in typical Miss Lockhart censure. "Why, pray tell, do women get married?"

"For money, usually." He could tell she was offended again, but with Miss Lockhart, he didn't have to worry overly much about offense. After all, she didn't. Besides, he thought his assessment quite fair. "I don't blame them. The world is not fair to a spinster. She has no recourse but to work or starve. So if she's asked, she marries."

Obviously, Miss Lockhart did not consider his assessment fair. She slapped her mug on the table so hard the crockery rattled. "Do you have any idea how insulting you are? To think a woman is single because she has never been asked, or if she is married, she has done so for monetary security?"

He found himself entertained and very, very interested. "Ah, I've touched a nerve. Are you telling me there is a man alive who dared to propose to you?"

"I am not telling you anything." But swept along by her passion, she did. "A man can convey financial security, but whither thou goest, I shall go, and all that rot. A woman has to live where her husband wishes, let him waste her money, watch as he humiliates her with other women, and never say a word."

"Men are not the only ones who break their vows."

"So fidelity is a vow you intend to keep?"

Of course he had no intention of keeping that vow, when he was forced to make it, and falling into that trap which had so neatly snared his father. "I've supported more women than Madame Beauchard's best corset-maker. If I let marriage stop me, think of the poor actresses who would be without a patron."

She wasn't amused. "So nothing about your wife would be sacrosanct, not even her body. Your wife will cherish dreams that you never know about, and even if you did they would be less than a puff of wind to you."

Women had dreams? About what? A new pair of shoes? Seeing a rival fail? Dancing with a foreign prince? But Miss Lockhart wasn't speaking of the trivial, and he found himself asking, "What are your dreams?"

"You don't care. Until I spoke, it never occurred to you that a woman could have her dreams."

"That's true, but you are a teacher, and already you have taught me otherwise." Leaning back in his chair, he gazed at her and with absolute sincerity said the most powerful words in the universe. "Tell me what you want. I want to know about you."

She had no defense to withstand him. She leaned back, too, and closed her eyes as if she could see her fantasy before her. "I want a house in the country. Just a cottage, with a fence and cat to sit in my lap and a dog to sleep at my feet. A spot of earth for a garden with flowers as well as vegetables, food on the table, and a little leisure time in which to read the books I've not had time to read or just sit ... in the sunshine."

The candles softened the stark contrast between her white complexion and that hideous rouge. Light and shadow delineated her pale lips, showing them in their fullness. Her thick lashes formed a ruffled half-circle on her skin. When she was talking like this, imagining her perfect life, she looked almost ... pretty. "That's all?"

"Oh, yes."

"That's simple enough."

"Yes, very simple. And mine."

Careful not to break into her reverie, he quietly placed his mug next to hers.

"Why do you want that?"

"That's what I had before—"

She stopped speaking so suddenly he knew what she had been about to say. Moving to the side of her chair, he knelt on the carpet. "Before your father left?"

At the sound of his voice, her eyes flew open and she stared at him in dismay. She had been dreaming, he realized, seeing that cottage, those pets, that garden, and imagining a time when she could sit in the sunshine. Her countenance was open and vulnerable, and his instincts were strong. As gently as a whisper, he placed his fingertips on her cheek. "There's one dream you didn't mention, and I can make it come true." Slowly, giving her time to turn if she wished, he leaned forward . . . and kissed her.

Rules of Engagement. Copyright © by Christina Dodd. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Excerpted from Rules of Engagement by Christina Dodd
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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