Pub Date: October 2010
FTC: Purchased myself
For proper young ladies, good behavior has always been the rule…I loved Enoch's Lessons in Love trilogy. Every book was very different, but the Rake and England's Perfect Hero are my favorites. Partly because they are about the Carroway family, which I adore. So when I saw that Rules of an Engagement was about Bradshaw Carroway, I was doing a Snoopy dance in the aisles of the grocery store.
Captain Bradshaw Carroway loves the seafaring life—though he’d rather be battling brigands than his current assignment of ferrying a boatload of spoiled aristocrats. One passenger, however, has caught his eye: a bewitching young minx who definitely distracts him from the rules of shipboard decorum . . .
Some rules, of course, are meant to be broken.
Miss Zephyr Ponsley has traveled the world, but she’s completely innocent in the ways of love. She’s never learned to dance or flirt. But scientific observation has taught her that the laws of attraction have no rules, and that no adventure, on land or sea, is more dangerous—or delicious—than passion!
It's been six years since the last Carroway book. Six years. But I have to say it was worth the wait. (Okay, technically, this is part of the Adventurer's Club series, but in my heart, it's a Carroway story).
Bradshaw Carroway is fighting off an odd reluctance for battle. Odd, that is, for an English Navy captain. Having lost a good friend during a battle, he's lost his taste for needless bloodshed. Despite his uncertainty over his career, he accepts his newest mission which sends to him to Australia. Where he finds out that the rest of his mission will involve escorting Sir Joseph Ponsley and his daughter on a multi-island trip to collect specimens for study back in England.
Part of what I loved about this book is that you get well over halfway through without any sex. Which is unusual. I don't mind steamy scenes, but every once in awhile, I'd like the romance to progress at a more realistic (for me) pace. Two months of getting to know each other, building a friendship. It's rare to see that anymore, and I really enjoyed it.
The best part about this book is easily the dialogue. I love smart, snappy bantering and there is plenty of it here. I really loved the playfulness surrounding Zephyr's name (which means a warm, following breeze). And I love how brutally honest Shaw and Zephyr are with each other. There's a lack of pretense that find refreshing.
Enoch's humor is present throughout. It's a sweet, chuckle type of humor. Where you're smiling quite a lot. There are the plays on words. Then there is the parrot. You can't have a sailing romance without a parrot, right? And this one, although a bit stereotypical, adds just enough humor in the right places.
I was also really impressed with the sheer volume of sailing lingo. I have no idea if it was accurate or not, but given the amount of detail, I'm pretty sure most of it is probably correct. It was this detail (which sails furled when and for what reason) that led both credibility to the story and caused the story to drag a bit for me. It never felt like filler, but I sometimes felt as if the ship (and the various adjustments to it) was more of a character than the two main leads.
Romances set at sea are far from new, but this one felt new to me. It could be because the heroine was not a pampered Mayfair miss, but a fellow explorer. It could be the little vignettes scattered throughout the novel (especially the scenes on Tahiti). I loved following along on the adventure almost as much as I loved watching Shaw and Zephyr fall in love.
If you dislike romances set at sea, this probably isn't for you. But if you would like an unusual tale filled with quirky characters and an unconventional plot, you should read this one.
My Grade: A-
P.S. If you haven't read the original Lessons in Love trilogy, I highly recommend it. England's Perfect Hero is a terrific, powerful novel featuring Shaw's brother, Bit.