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Following a terrifying encounter in the quiet English countryside, a young woman flees to New York in search of a new life. Adopting the initial M as her name, and reinventing herself, she embarks on a journey that will lead her to the catwalks of Paris, where she becomes the muse and star model to France's iconic designer Jean-Louis Tremont. When M meets the charming and handsome actor, Larry Vaughan in New York they fall instantly in love and marry. Soon, they become the most desired couple on the international...
Following a terrifying encounter in the quiet English countryside, a young woman flees to New York in search of a new life. Adopting the initial M as her name, and reinventing herself, she embarks on a journey that will lead her to the catwalks of Paris, where she becomes the muse and star model to France's iconic designer Jean-Louis Tremont. When M meets the charming and handsome actor, Larry Vaughan in New York they fall instantly in love and marry. Soon, they become the most desired couple on the international scene, appearing on the cover of every celebrity magazine, adored by millions. With a successful career and a happy marriage, M believes she has truly put the demons of her past behind her. But M's fortunes are about to take another dramatic twist. A series of bizarre events turn out not to be accidents at all, but assaults on M and her family. The dark figure from M's past, a psychopath with deadly intent, has made a vow: to shatter M's world forever. But M also makes a vow: she will do everything to keep them all safe. When those you love are threatened and at risk, there's nothing you won't do to protect them… you'll even resort to breaking the rules! Moving from New York to the chic fashion capitals of London and Paris, to the exotic locations of Istanbul and Hong Kong, this new tale from a renowned storyteller is a genuine pageturner
Meant to be read in a peignoir on a chase lounge whist nibbling scented chocolates.
The young woman who hurried down Fifth Avenue was unaware of the stares as she plunged determinedly through the downpour as though oblivious to it. She was, in fact, too consumed by her thoughts to notice passersby.
They noticed her. They stared, nodded approvingly, or smiled with admiration. She drew attention for a number of reasons. She was rather exotic-looking, with high cheekbones, black eyebrows beautifully arched on her broad brow above large dark eyes. Her jet-black hair was pulled back into a sleek ponytail, which fell almost to her waist. Though not beautiful in the classical sense, she was arresting and had a unique look about her.
Tall, slender, lithe, she moved with grace and had an inbred elegance. Her clothes were simple; she was wearing a sleeveless black cotton shift and ballet slippers, her only jewelry large pearl earrings and a watch. She carried a battered old black Hermès Kelly bag, well polished, which had obviously seen better days but looked just right on her arm.
The rain was coming down in torrents and she was already drenched, but she no longer bothered to look for a cab. There was no point; they were all taken. She was heading home, and much to her relief she wasn’t very far now. Two blocks down, three avenues to cross and she would be at West Twenty-second Street and Ninth Avenue.
A month ago, through her only friend in New York, a young man called Dax, she had found the perfect place: a comfortable room with two good-size closets and its own bath in a brownstone on this rather lovely old street. Chelsea reminded her of London, gave her a sense of well-being, and she felt at home here.
When she had left London, she had left behind her name; now she was known as M, and M did not mind the rain today. It was cooling on this blistering August afternoon. Earlier, around lunchtime, it had been at least a hundred and one in the shade. Leni, the young receptionist at the Blane Model Agency, had announced with a big grin, “Betcha we could fry eggs on the sidewalk today, M. How about giving it a try?”
M had laughed with her, wanting to be nice. Leni had endeavored to be helpful since the day they had met. M had gone to Blane’s within days of arriving in Manhattan, two months ago now. Although the agency had not found work for her so far, they had been encouraging, and Leni’s friendliness had helped. M knew she was going to make it as a model. She had to, she had no choice. Not only had she something to prove to her family but she had something to prove to herself as well, and nothing was going to stop her.
Glancing at her watch, M winced. It was already four o’clock, nine at night in London, and she usually called her sister on Fridays around this time. Although M was in her early twenties and considered herself very capable, her elder sister worried about her being alone in New York. But then she worried about everything; that was her nature. M loved her, missed her, but making it on her own had been too compelling to ignore. So here she was trying to become another Kate Moss. She smiled inwardly at that idea. If only, she thought. Increasing her pace, she crossed Seventh Avenue, striding out toward Eighth, in a bigger hurry now.
The brownstone was on Twenty-second halfway between Ninth and Tenth, and as she drew closer, she saw somebody huddled on the top step, leaning against the front door. At once she realized it was her friend Dax. Dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, he was protecting himself with a newspaper, which he held over his head. He was as drenched as she was, and the minute she ran up the steps, she saw he was shivering, looked pale and pinched.
“Dax, what are you doing here?” she exclaimed, pulling the door key out of her bag.
“Getting decidedly wet,” he shot back, grinning at her.
“So I see. Let’s get you inside. You’re shivering. . . . Are you sick?”
“I’ve got a bit of a cold,” he answered, “that’s all,” and standing up, he followed her inside.
The two of them stood dripping water in the tiled entrance for a moment, until M took hold of his arm and led him into the small cloakroom, reminding him that Geo, from whom she rented her room, insisted her house be kept pristine. “Get undressed in here and dry yourself, Dax. There’re towels in the cupboard next to the coatrack. I’ll be back with something dry for you in a minute.”
“Thanks,” he answered, still shivering, offering her a wan smile.
M went out, took off her wet ballet shoes, and ran upstairs to her room. Within seconds she had shed her soaking dress and underwear, thrown them in the tub, rubbed herself dry, and put on cotton pants, a cotton T-shirt, and dry shoes. Taking a large terry-cloth robe out of the closet, she went downstairs, knocked on the door of the cloakroom, and when it opened put the robe over Dax’s outstretched arm. “That should fit you, Dax. You’ll find me in the kitchen. . . . I’m going to make us a pot of really hot tea.”
“The English cure-all for everything,” he muttered.
“Don’t knock it,” M said, hurrying into the kitchen. Once the kettle was on the stove, she pulled her cell phone out of her pants pocket and dialed her sister in London. “Hi, it’s me!” she exclaimed when the phone was answered. “I’m alive and well and kicking! How are you, Birdie?”
“I’m fine, darling, very okay this week, and listen to me. You know I hate that nickname you gave me when you were little. Let’s forget it, shall we?”
Hearing the laughter in her voice, M chuckled, then went on, “How’s business? Has everything been going well?”
“Yes, it has, and I heard from Mummy and Dad. They send their love. So does Gran.”
“How is Gran? Is she feeling better?”
“Loads, yes, and I’m sure it’s because Mummy and Dad are in Australia. You know how our mother cheers everyone up, makes them instantly feel better. And Gran’s no exception, she responds immediately to her much-loved daughter.”
“I’m glad to hear Gran’s better. I’ll give her a call over the weekend. Any other news?”
“Not really . . .”
The sisters talked for a few minutes longer, then said their good-byes. Putting her cell phone on the countertop, M opened the cupboard and took out her large brown teapot, which she had bought when she moved into the brownstone.
After putting six English Breakfast tea bags into the pot, she poured the boiling water over them. Her thoughts remained with her sister; she was concerned about her constantly now that she was on her own, a widow. Tragically, her husband had died of a heart attack two years ago, and M was well aware she was still grieving. But that was natural. They had been so very much in love, joined at the hip to M’s way of thinking. Then suddenly, he was gone . . . just like that, in the flicker of an eyelash. He had been only thirty-three, far too young.
At the time, her elder brother had said life was full of surprises, seventy-five percent of them bad. She had disagreed with him, calling him a cynic, but now she wasn’t so sure that he was wrong. Life did have a way of coming up to hit you in the face. Her father’s comment during this conversation had been typical. He had reminded her, and her brother, that what was meant to be would be, and that life had its own rules, rules no one could change. M sighed, stood with her hand on the teapot, thinking about her sister, missing her more than ever. They had always been close, best friends.
“Did I offend you? About the tea, I mean.”
M jumped and swung around to face Dax. She exclaimed, “I didn’t hear you come into the kitchen. You startled me.”
M grinned at him. “Of course you didn’t upset me, Dax. I’m not so easily offended, you know.” She frowned at him, added, “You still look chilled to the bone. This hot tea will help.” She reached into the cupboard as she spoke, took out two mugs, poured the tea, and added milk. Carrying the mugs to the table under the window, she went on, “Come along, Dax, come and sit with me here.”
Tightening the belt of the robe, shrugging into it for warmth, he sat down opposite her and put his hands around the mug. “I came looking for Geo,” he volunteered after a few seconds. “But I’m glad she’s not here. I realize it’s you I want to talk to. . . . I feel more comfortable with you when I need to discuss my problems.”
“You know I’ll help if I can,” M murmured, eyeing him carefully, thinking that perhaps it was Geo he wanted to talk about. She couldn’t imagine why he said he felt more comfortable discussing his problems with her, when he had never done such a thing in the past. It’s just his way of getting around his awkwardness, she decided and said, “Go on, then, Dax, tell me what’s wrong.”
“Everything,” he answered after a moment of thought. “And because nothing is going right for me here, I’m seriously considering going to L.A.”
“Do you mean permanently, or simply for a visit?” she asked.
“Permanently. You know I want to be an actor, not a male model, and I think the only way I’m going to make it is by moving to L.A., taking a chance out there.”
M’s dark eyes narrowed, and she said, very slowly, “But, Dax, you’d just be changing one city for another. You’ll take your problems along with you.”
“Not all of them. If I do move, I will be leaving Geo behind, and that will certainly solve one problem.”
“It will? Which one?”
“My muddled love life.”
“Is it muddled? Really and truly?” She sat back, took a sip of tea, and looked at Dax over the rim of her mug, waiting for a response.
“I think it is. Look, my relationship with Geo has stalled. Actually, if you want the truth, it’s stagnant. I do care about her, and I thought I’d connected with the love of my life when we first got involved. But it’s just not going smoothly, and I think she’s lost interest in me . . . and I’ve got to confess my passion for her has been diluted.” He sat back in the chair and took a long swallow of the tea, relieved to unburden himself.
“Perhaps that’s because you think she’s lost interest in you, and I’m certain she hasn’t. . . . She’s always happy when you call her, I can attest to that. I live here, remember.”
“There’s another problem, actually,” Dax volunteered, and leaning closer across the table, he whispered, “I’ve fallen for someone else. . . . Geo’s been away a lot lately, and I’ve been on my own, and well, look, I met someone who really turns me on, and who’s crazy about me.”
“Oh.” M stared at him, at a loss for words.
Dax said, “He’s just great, really special.”
“Oh, I see,” M muttered and put down her mug.
“Don’t look so upset.” Dax drew closer once more as he added, “I’m a member of both churches, if you know what I mean. And I’m quite happy in her church. And also in his.” He smiled suddenly, his face lighting up. “But I don’t want to get too deeply involved with him, and so I think I should go to L.A. Follow my lifelong dream, so to speak, try to make it as an actor, and put my love life/sex life on hold, if you get my drift.”
“Yes, I do, and I’ll say it again. You will still take your problems with you wherever you live.”
“No, I won’t. I’ll be leaving Geo and Jason behind. Two problems dealt with! I’ll only have my career to worry about.” He suddenly started to cough, jumped up, excused himself, and hurried out of the kitchen.
M stared after him, frowning. Although she had been surprised when he confided he was bisexual, she was neither troubled by the revelation nor judgmental. But she was worried about Dax’s health. He looked genuinely ill to her. A moment later he was back, blowing his nose on a tissue.
“Sorry about that,” he said, sitting down again.
“You’ve got a really nasty cold, you know.” She stood up, went to one of the cabinets, took out a bottle of Tylenol, and gave it to him. “Take some of these, and drink your tea.”
“Yes, Mom,” he said, grinning at her, and took three of the pills. “Well, thank God it’s stopped raining at last,” he murmured, staring out the window. “So, tell me, M, should I go to L.A. or not?”
“I don’t know how to answer that, not really,” she responded quietly. “I suppose it might be easier out there, to get an acting job, I mean. On the other hand, I keep hearing that actors are two a penny in Hollywood, and that all of them are gorgeous and talented, male and female alike.” She gave him a probing stare and finished. “Maybe you’re just running away from Geo and Jason. Do you think that might be it?”
“Not at all. I’m only thinking about my future . . . in films. And you know I’ve been to so many auditions, looking for parts, trying to get an acting job, long before we met at the Blane Agency when you first came to New York.”
“Then think about this move just a little longer. Give it a few weeks, try to find something here in New York, an acting job in television or maybe in the theater. And as for Geo, tell her it’s over if it really is. She’s a big girl, she’ll understand, and anyway, you said she’d sort of lost interest in you. As for Jason, you have only two choices. You can stay with him. Or tell him good-bye as well. So that you can concentrate on your career.”
Dax gaped at her for a long moment, then began to laugh hilariously, ending up coughing into his tissue. When he had settled down, he said, with a knowing grin, “If nothing else, you’re certainly outspoken, tell a guy what you really think.”
“Do I? And what do I think?”
“That I’m full of b.s.”
“No, you’re wrong. I don’t think badly of you, Dax, honestly. But my sister always says I have a way of getting to the heart of the matter. And that’s what I’ve done with you—” She broke off as the phone rang, and leaning over, she picked it up. “Hello?” After a moment listening, she went on, “That’s fine, and you’ll be staying there all weekend?” There was another pause as M listened again, and she silently mouthed, “It’s Geo. Do you want to speak to her?”
Dax shook his head vehemently.
M said, “Okay, Geo, I’ll do that, and I’ll be here all weekend. I’ll see you on Monday. Bye.” Placing the receiver in the cradle, she explained, “Geo’s at her sister’s in New Jersey. For the weekend, as you’ve no doubt guessed.”
“I’m right, you know, she is cooling it with me.”
“And you’ve done the same, you’ve even moved on a step or two, wouldn’t you say?”
He nodded, knowing she had called it correctly.
“I’m thinking of making a big soup, a healthy French soup,” M announced. “Do you want to stay for supper?”
“What’s a big French soup?”
“You know, with vegetables and pieces of chicken . . . one of those soups that’s always on the hob in French kitchens.” She smiled at him cheekily. “I’m a good cook, you know.”
“I’m sure. I’d love to stay for supper. And perhaps we can talk some more.”
M groaned. “Just as long as we don’t talk about your problems.”
“Absolutely not. Anyway, you’ve solved them for me, M. You got right to the heart of the matter, as apparently you always do.”
Copyright © 2009 by Beaji Enterprises, Inc.
All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America.
For information, address St. Martin’s Press,
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010.
I love the proper ettiquette, the classy settings, exotic places and the character of her books! BREAKING THE RULES follows suit, but you need to have read WOMAN OF SUBSTANCE first or you'll be confused. I love strong female characters who achieve, and plenty of heart and soul. Another winner! Another book and writer I love has the same quality, EXPLOSION IN PARIS, by L.M. Pirrung...Also loved THE HELP, THE FORGOTTEN GARDEN, THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL SOCIETY
9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 15, 2009
In London, the wealthy twenty-three years old granddaughter of Emma Harte suffers an assault. She decides to leave England for New York and pursue a career as a model. The young lady feels she has the looks, the know-how and most important the connections. Thus M is invented.
M proves reasonably successful as a model and ultimately works in Paris. She falls in love with actor Laurence Vaughn, but eventually that adversary of her family who attacked her in Chelsea recognizes her and sets in motion a plan to destroy M and her loved ones.
Although much of the tale occurs in 2006, there is a throw back feel to the interesting story line; mostly because of the long running Harte series and somewhat M's courage under fire affirms she has Emma's DNA; she knows when to flight and when to fight. This story is a convoluted with a seemingly zillion support players with respective but related histories of their own that do not tie well together even with the marvelous Ms. M at the vortex. Still fans of the saga will relish the thirtieth anniversary of A WOMAN OF SUBSTANCE updated for the new millennium.
3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 27, 2009
Glad to see another book by Ms. Bradford again. Hopefully there will be more soonest. A good story line that is connected together well. Keep up the good work.
2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted October 25, 2011
I picked up this book hoping for a good story, but was very disappointed. It starts off okay, about M who is in New York wanting to be a model, and then morphs into a "family danger" story. However, the author spends so much time with the characters and modeling start that she never really gets to the danger part of the story. Once the fun starts, the story is rushed and unsatisfying. It's like the author got bored with the story that wasn't going anywhere and started throwing in stuff to get it finished. In the end, the family doesn't even finish off the bad guy, someone else takes care of that and the story ends all kissy-kissy happy ever after. Don't get me wrong, I like a happy ending but I want a good story before I get there. I had not read Barbara Taylor Bradford before, and I doubt I will again. This is part of her Emma Harte series, and if you haven't read about the family previously, you will be confused about some of the characters - especially the ones that seem important to the story but are not developed. If you have read other books in the series, it might be a better read for you. The jacket led me to expect a story about a woman willing to "Break the Rules" to protect her loved ones, but I never found that women in this book.
1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 7, 2010
I can't say enough about this book without repeating myself. I have read everyone of Ms. Bradford's book and this is amazingly one of the best, if that's at all possible. I couldn't put it down..kept me wanting to ready more and more....there were many surprises along the way. If you've read her books before...this one is A MUST....
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Posted October 26, 2009
Winner of he Audie Award for Best Female Solo Narration Katherine Kellgren is in great demand as a voice performer. Lucky for audiobook/Barbara Taylor Bradford fans that she took the mike for this intriguing story of a woman who thought she had everything - yes, "thought," definitely past tense.
It's hard to believe but it has been 30 years since Bradford's amazing mega-selling A Woman Of Substance. Few who read it have forgotten it. Now, in celebration of that anniversary Bradford has spun off that smoldering tale featuring the redoubtable Emma Harte to give us Breaking The Rules. This is the seventh in the Harte series and stars the mysterious M, a descendent of matriarch Emma who seems to have inherited a healthy amount of Emma's gutsiness and gusto for life.
M flees what was once her quiet English home to try to put a horrific experience out of her mind and begin a new life in New York City. She is, of course, in addition to being confident unbelievably gorgeous. Wasting no time she rises in the ranks of super models, meets and marries handsome actor Larry Vaughan. She has left behind a fearsome assault and life is now filled with joy.
That happiness is short lived when the psychopath who darkened her past threatens to take it all away. Will M and her family triumph one more time?
Again, this is a Bradford book to get lost in as the author takes us to all the glamorous spots in the world peopled by those wearing designer duds and dining at only 5 star restaurants where reservations must be made 3 months in advance. It's great escapist listening.
- Gail Cooke
1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 4, 2014
The book was poorly written and the dialogue felt like it was for a middle
schooler. The whole premise of the book was unrealistic and the characters
had no depth. The Harte family characters are becoming too self righteous and
too black and white when viewing other people around them. I found myself
skipping sections to finish the book.
Posted June 3, 2014
Breaking the Rules by Barbara Taylor Bradford (BTB) is supposed to be the finale of the Harte Family series. This novel is different from the others in the series. The plot twist is different than the normal BTB novels.
M. has come to New York to start her career in modeling. It is off to a slow start until her friend Geo introduces her to Frankie a fashion photographer. His death seems to put M.’s career on hold until his protégé Luke takes over. He discovers and helps launch her career. Shortly thereafter she meets actor Larry Vaughan and marries him. All of the sudden accidents start happening around M. Who could possibly be behind them? Will her family survive these attacks? What will M. do to protect them?
Before I share my thoughts on Breaking the Rules, I thought I would share about the Harte Family series. I had did read some other reviews as I listened to the novel. I have read the series up to now. I probably had the same questions of what happened to Paula and her family? Many fans had this question. Enter the next set of novels Emma’s Secret, Unexpected Blessings, and Just Rewards. Fans wanted to know what happened to Johnathan Ainsley. Breaking the Rules was supposed to answer this question.
I liked the novel but had a hard time understanding the purpose of the M. character. Or how would Johnathan Ainsley meet his demise? The first half you the reader are given vague references as to who M. is. Her character is basically built through the first half. If the point was she is to stand alone and work hard for the career she desires then the author is a success.
For me the part of the novel I didn’t like was the plotting. I felt that there were too many questions in the beginning. Such as who is M.? I was satisfied with the ending. Then I vaguely remembered from reading Just Rewards that Paula had another daughter Emma. Once I made this connection it was an Aha moment for me. I also was not a fan of the narration of the novel because it did not distinguish the characters separately very well. Jencey/Writer's Corner
Posted September 6, 2013
This is typical Barbara Taylor Bradford at its best. I have enjoyed all of her books since "A Woman of Substance." Sometmes her language is bit stilted, but still very enjoyable.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 15, 2013
I loved all the pteviously written books in this series but this one was so very boring. Not even close to believable. Not even entertaining in the least. I suspect a ghost writter.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 30, 2012
I read the first six Emma Harte books within two months, I went to read breaking the rules, and to be honest it took me awhile to even start it. When I read the back, it had no corrilation to the Emma Harte series, I even read some of it, and looked through alot of the book and I did not see any of the names that follow the series, I was not going to read it I checked several times to make sure this book actually belongs to that series! You have no idea this has to do with the Hartes until you are at the last 200 or so pages!!!! Very disappointed in this book, not up to the great writing of the other six in the series.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 13, 2011
I read Woman of Substance years ago and remember enjoying it. I picked this book up at Half Price Books thinking it would be a good summer pool read. The dialogue is laughable and some of the story line is just ridiculous. Luckily it only cost me 3 bucks.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 2, 2011
What a splendid loving exquisitely written novel. There is nothing better than a Barbara Taylor Bradford novel about the Harte family. The story telling is exquisite!!!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 2, 2010
I've read quite a few of the Emma Harte books and I have to say that this one just didn't do a thing for me. I felt that it was written poorly and the only good part was the last section of the book when they let you know it was about the Harte family. I passed it on to my Mother and she started it and put it down for a different book. She hasn't told me if she's read it yet or not. I didn't tell her that it was an Emma Harte book because I wanted her to read it without that background.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
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