Bantam, $6.99, ISBN 0-553-58732-3
Historical Romance, 2006
Perhaps I am missing something here. Perhaps I need a crash course in history to appreciate how the characters in the 19th century really behave. It’s true that those people probably don’t think like folks today, but I like to believe that common sense still holds true back in those days.
I don’t get The Rules of Seduction.
Lord Hayden Rothwell discovers that one of the London banks managed by Timothy Longworth is on the verge of collapse due to Timothy’s embezzlement schemes. Because Timothy is the brother of the man who once saved Hayden’s life in The Only War That Matters (guess which one), Hayden steps in to bail Timothy out and cover up his nonsense. Not that Timothy is grateful, of course, because he resents Hayden for daring to accuse him of being who he is. Our heroine Alexia Wellbourne has a crush on her cousin Benjamin Longworth, the same man who died to save Hayden. She is a spinster dependent on the Longworths’ charity and therefore when Hayden comes in to sweep up the mess, she finds her life entangled with Hayden’s to the point that she eventually finds herself a companion and governess in the Rothwell household.
Now, here’s the thing that I don’t understand. Hayden just will not tell Alexia that her darling cousin Timothy embezzled funds from the bank. Instead, he lets Alexia think that he’s the bad guy and rather high-handedly expects her to accept him because they are sleeping together. Why oh why don’t a man tell his wife this kind of thing? Even if he has promised Timothy not to blab, she is his wife. Why would he want to be married to a woman who thinks he’s the bad guy? This is the main conflict between those two so you can imagine the sound when my forehead hits the desk, I’m sure.
Also, Benjamin ends up being this fellow unworthy of Alexia’s devotion, how predictable.
At any rate, Hayden and Alexia befuddle me because they don’t do things halfway when it comes to making their lives extra complicated. When there is an easy way to a solution, they will go the extra mile to complicate matters instead. I don’t get it. Maybe the apologists will once again tell me that I don’t “understand” how people behave in those days, but it seems to me a lot of the problems in this story will be solved if Hayden takes Alexia into his confidence. It doesn’t make sense to me that he can admire her intelligence and all but at the same time can’t trust her to keep a secret. If he has only told, she won’t be manipulated by Timothy and my blood pressure won’t hit the roof.
The Rules of Seduction is cleanly written and all, but truly, those characters really do have rocks in their head.