Rules For A Lady
by Katherine Greyle, historical (2001)
Leisure, $4.99, ISBN 0-8439-4818-3


On page one of Katherine Greyle's Rules For A Lady, I thought, "How nice! A charming, refreshing voice from a new author!" At page 33, I have my misgivings, but the story's still quaint. By page 125, I feel a headache coming on. The heroine of Rules For A Lady is so recklessly and sometimes stupidly perky and spunky to the point of being a public nuisance.

Gillian Ames, 21 going on 13, is a by-blow of a wealthy nobleman. She and her mother are maids who spent their days catering to a selfish, whiny half-sister of hers. When Amanda the Evil Sis passes on to her just rewards, Gillian decides to pose as her and head off to London. She will marry well and bring her mother to live with her in their brand new English manor.

But her guardian, Stephen, is a disapproving handsome man who soon charms the knickers out of our enterprising young lady.

Now, I can accept the probably historically accurate hypocrisy of Stephen - he castigating Gillian for the very reason he lusts after her in the first place - but I cannot take any more of Gillian's London Reformation Crusade. I really groan when she decides to adopt a young cut purse, but oooh-kay, I can take that. It's barely Chapter Five yet, and Regency heroines should have the luxury to be overzealously charitable to the point of dumbassness at least once.

Then Gillian starts peeping at keyholes and listening at others' conversation. She barges in and offers her (unwanted and utterly impractical) opinions on everything and anything. My favorite is she risking blowing away her cover because she wants to help a sick old man - by breaking into Stephen's study to find the man's address so that she can deliver her homemade recipe for a cure. What happened to marrying well so that sick momma can live in London?

Gillian also reads Stephen's diary and stomps her feet when she realizes that Stephen writes nothing about her in them. And she's 21? More like eight years old to me. This heroine has no consistent personality, only a mishmash tendency to be irritatingly condescending, overzealously charitable, nosy, petulant, and reckless at the most inconvenient moments. Stephen is nothing but one big frown that gets heavier and heavier as the page turns, in direct proportion to the increasing weight in his pants the more Gillian vexes him. Hey, some men have strange tastes.

The author writes well with lots of generous humor, but the characters make no sense or worse, irritate the heck out of me. The only way this book can be redeemed in my eyes is to have Stephen take off his shoe and whack Gillian's backside with it hard. Instead he marries her. Yeeech.

Rating: 63


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