The Rules of Seduction by Madeline Hunter
published by Dell in November 2006
His rules will teach her the most sensual seductions and pleasures.
Her rules will bring him to his knees.
He enters her home without warning or invitation—a stranger of shadowy motives and commanding charisma. Within hours, Alexia Welbourne is penniless, without any hope of marriage. Until Hayden Rothwell takes her innocence in one impulsive act of passion. Society’s rules of seduction force Alexia to marry the very man who has ruined her family. What Alexia doesn't know is that her masterful, sensual new husband is driven by a secret purpose and bears a dark debt of honor. He will risk anything, give everything, to repay it. Except, he discovers, the woman who starts playing by her own rules.
Genre: historical romance
Series: Book #1 of ...
The Story: During the Greece War, Hayden Rothwell's life was saved by his boyhood friend, Ben Longworth. Ever since then, Hayden has been looking out for the Longworths, not the family itself, but their business - banking, even after Ben's death. However, London is facing a bank crisis and when Hayden decides to remove his aunt and cousin's funds, he finds out that Tim, Ben's younger brother, has been embezzling money. Because of his honor, Hayden saves Tim's life by covering up the secret - provided that Tim reimbursed everyone... which means ruin for the Longworth's family. Too much of a coward to admit his faults and crime, Tim tells his younger sisters and cousin, Alexia Wellbourne, that Hayden has removed his family, the Eastbrooke, funds from bank and forced him out of business.
Alexia Longworth has become the poor relative when her father was ruined by bad investments. Upon hearing that the Longworth family is ruined as well, she knows that there's no way she can return with them to the country. Thus, she seeks employment as a governess... however, never in a hundred years did she expect Hayden to be her employer...
My Opinion: I think that Brie did a better job to summarize the book than I did. Anyway... so the whole storyline centers around Tim's lies to his younger sisters and Alexia. Alexia believes that Hayden ruined the Longworth and Hayden has too much honor to tell her the truth. Nonetheless, they're attracted to each other and both succomb to the attraction... which results in a very interesting situation.
I really liked Hayden... Most probably because he's not too alpha. In fact, I think he'd be the perfect poster boy for gentlemanhood, LOL :) I also think he knew from the moment he started seducing Alexia that he loved her. It wasn't just lust from his part, it was something else... which is refreshing :P As for Alexia, she was a good heroine. Not TSTL; however a bit of a coward. I like how she was honest. My only issue with her is I think that the author made her a bit too naive. I understand why Alexia feels so strongly against Hayden - after all, he "ruined" them, and I guessed that in that time, you didn't really second-guess what you're being told... but still.
I really like that although the situation made it awkward, it didn't stop them from marrying and falling in love. My only problem with the book was that the whole truth would have been sooo easy to uncover. I mean, if only Alexia went to the bank or asked around, she would have known that Hayden did NOT remove his family funds from the bank and therefore, did not ruin the Longworth. Sure, she had other worries and so on, but how difficult would it have been? So I thought it was a bit too convenient that Alexia never found out by herself before the end of the book.
All in all, I think this was a good book and a solid read. This is my first time reading Madeline Hunter and I thought her voice was good. It's kind of strange though, I feel a bit more detached reading this story than most historical romance novels I've read... and I guess I like it that way. I'm also very interested in Hayden's brothers. i know that Elliot's book is out, Lessons of Desire, unfortunately, I'm not a fan of the heroine...
My Grade: B+