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The Rules of Gentility
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The Rules of Gentility

4.2 19
by Janet Mullany

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Regency heiress Philomena Wellesley-Clegg has rather strong opinions about men and clothing. As to the former, so far two lords, a viscount, and a mad poet have fallen far short of her expectations. But she is about to meet Inigo Linsley, an unshaven, wickedly handsome man with a scandalous secret. He's nothing she ever dreamed she'd want—why then can she not


Regency heiress Philomena Wellesley-Clegg has rather strong opinions about men and clothing. As to the former, so far two lords, a viscount, and a mad poet have fallen far short of her expectations. But she is about to meet Inigo Linsley, an unshaven, wickedly handsome man with a scandalous secret. He's nothing she ever dreamed she'd want—why then can she not stop thinking about how he looks in his breeches?

A delightful marriage of Pride and Prejudice with Bridget Jones's Diary, Janet Mullany's The Rules of Gentility transports us to the days before designer shoes, apple martinis, and speed dating—when great bonnets, punch at Almack's, and the marriage mart were in fashion—and captivates us with a winsome heroine who learns that some rules in society are made to be broken.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

The saga of an Austen-era bachelorette puts the lie to Regency delicacy in this fun romantic spoof by Mullany (Dedication). Miss Philomena Wellesley-Clegg distracts herself from her dwindling list of suitors (those still in the running include a wimpy poet and a dandy with a wandering eye) by shopping for bonnets and gossiping with her married best friend. But when her path crosses with Inigo Linsley, her best friend's rascally brother-in-law, "Philly" warms to him, even if his kisses make her "feel very peculiar indeed." When Inigo proposes a sham engagement to ward off her doofy suitors, she agrees-but only until the end of the social season. In turn, Inigo trusts Philly with the secret of his out-of-wedlock son and the friendship of his former lover, an actress. But some ungentlemanly conduct in a carriage sends Philly on the hunt for a more proper man. Mullany's saucy narrator and bubbly tone won't convert many classic Regency fans, but the combination should entice romance readers who'd otherwise sidestep the flurry of petticoats. (Sept.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
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Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.70(d)

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The Rules of Gentility

Chapter One

Miss Philomena Wellesley-Clegg

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single woman of fortune and passable good looks amuses herself in London with fashion, philanthropic works, and flirtation, until a suitable gentleman makes an offer. I consider the pursuit of the bonnets and a husband fairly alike—I do not want to acquire an item that will wear out, or bore me after a brief acquaintance, and we must suit each other very well. And although I have several gentlemen who have expressed an interest, I find all of them lack a certain something; and of course, with a gentleman you cannot replace the trim from another to make the perfect object, as tempting a thought as that might be, although indeed it would be an interesting experiment.

My current list of Possible Husbands is as follows:

1. Lord Elmhurst. Oh, he is the catch of the season. All we young ladies adore him. He is tall, handsome, rich, and charming, and danced twice with me at Lady Bellingham's the other night, complimented me on my headdress, and took me in to supper. The rumor is that he wishes for a wife whose pedigree will match his, but I wonder . . .

2. Viscount Elverton, who Mama says is a Catch, and she expects him to make an offer any day. Must I face a lifetime of listening to Elverton talk about his dogs and horses? Will he refer to me as a fine bitch who breeds like clockwork, or a mare with a capital gait?

3. The Mad Poet, although I am not sure he writes poetry, or at least gets much beyond the first line, of which he seems to have many. He is excessively handsome. It issuch a shame his real name is Mr. Hengest Carrotte.

4. Dear Mr. Thomas Darrowby does not have a penny to his name, although I think he would do well enough. He is rather like the bonnet you keep hanging by the door and put on when you do not have the time to ponder over the collection and must leave in a hurry. And it is a pity, for of all the gentlemen I know, he is the most affable, and Mama and Papa like him, for he is my brother Robert's best friend.

5. Lord Aylesworth, who is the only gentleman I know who truly appreciates bonnets and has an excellent eye for trims and the line of a gown. He also enjoys gossip and the theater, and is always most elegant.

As I step from the hackney, I muse that I shall discuss the inventory with my dearest friend Julia, or Lady Terrant as I must now think of her. I have decided to send my maid home, and so that is how I find myself outside the Terrants' house, juggling three hatboxes and some other purchases, and looking around for a footman to help me. I am most anxious to show Julia what I have bought and see what she thinks of taking the silk flowers from the red velvet and replacing them with the new yellow ribbon, something that seemed like a good idea at the time, although now I have severe doubts.

Another hackney draws up, splashing a little mud on my skirts, and a servant emerges, even more laden down with boxes and baskets than I. He glances toward the Terrants' house, and then starts a lively conversation with the driver. I am quite surprised that Terrant, for I presume it is his doing, should pass down such a wretched coat to one of his servants—the man's collar is frayed, one elbow is out, and he wears a straw hat, even though it is barely spring. Obviously, he has traveled from the country, from one of their estates, as the brace of dead hares under one arm attests.

The front door of the house opens, and Julia runs down the steps. Why, she must have seen me arrive! How thoughtful she is.

One of my precious hatboxes falls from under my arm and rolls onto the pavement, and in trying to rescue it I let go of the rest. "You may take these inside with your other boxes," I say to the servant, and deposit my remaining possessions on top of the large trunk he has hauled out of the carriage, along with various other packages and baskets. One of them makes a loud, quacking sound, and I see he has brought a -couple of ducks in a wicker cage.

"I—oh, why, certainly, miss." He doesn't sound very respectful although he does remove his hat. He needs a haircut—his mop of black hair curls over his collar, and, oh, shocking! When did he last shave?

"Inigo, my dear!" Julia runs to the servant and kisses his cheek, to my very great surprise. "You rascal, sir, you should have let us know to expect you. Why did you bring us ducks?" She bends down to stroke their feathers. "Oh, surely we shan't eat them. Look how pretty they are!"

"I wasn't intending you should. I thought the kitchen might keep them for their eggs. You look well, my love. I hope my brother treats you well." He gives her a smacking kiss on the cheek, his arm around her waist. "Lend me a shilling for the driver, there's a good girl. I'm somewhat low in the water."

Oh, I am mortified! So this is Inigo Linsley, Terrant's younger brother—the wicked one who so frequently cools his heels in the country. And I thought he was a servant!

Julia hands the driver a shilling she borrows from the butler. "Inigo, this is my dearest friend, Miss Philomena Wellesley-Clegg."

He has the brightest blue eyes and he bows as though we were introduced in a drawing-room and not on the street. "Ah. Those Wellesleys?"

"Oh, no, I don't believe so. We Wellesleys are from Lancashire, and my great-great-great-grandmother Hallelujah Clegg married into the family. She had a coal mine as a dowry."

The Rules of Gentility. Copyright � by Janet Mullany. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

The author of Jane and the Damned, Janet Mullany was reared in England on a diet of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer and now lives near Washington, D.C. She has worked as an archaeologist, waitress, draftsperson, radio announcer, performing arts administrator, proof-reader, and bookseller.

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Rules of Gentility 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
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sumteacher More than 1 year ago
This book was hilarious. I loved it. The heroine was somewhat naive, but a little naughty, and that added to the entertainment.
Heather Hoyt More than 1 year ago
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Guest More than 1 year ago
If you need a good laugh and a fun read--read this book! The dual narration of the Miss Philomena Wellesley-Clegg and Inigo Linsley are fresh and funny.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Witty and Charming. An excellent read with suspense, inuendo, and of lot of fantastically witty banter between the hero and heiress. Spent the majority of the book laughing and a manageable portion nervous about the outcome. A perfect blend of everything that I love about Austen with the added benefit fo going just a little bit further!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved this fresh Regency comedy! It flew by and with it, humor, mirth and an iresistable charming heroine. Innocent and daring. A fun combination! And our hero doesn't dissapoint either! And while our hero's stretchable'as warned' morals are a bit upseting to behold in some cases, this isn't something you want to miss!
harstan More than 1 year ago
Philomena Wellesley-Clegg knows beyond a shadow of the doubt that females are the superior gender in spite of society enabling men to control the wealth. Ergo, the heiress has no option except to accept a betrothal from whatever man she considers the less of all evils. Disreputable Inigo Linsley, who has family pressures to marry, knows how she feels. He offers her a different arrangement so that she can stay free a little longer and he can temporarily prevent his family schemes to matchmake him his plan is to fake an engagement between them. --- Philomena knows the concept is ridiculous, but likes the idea of buying time until she selects her life mate. She agrees to his inane offer. As they fall in love, she wants to select Inigo as her spouse while he tells her the truth about the scandal of having a child out of wedlock because he wants to be her chosen one. --- Rotating perspective between the lead couple, THE RULES OF GENTILITY is an amusing Regency Chick Lit romance. Philomena is a fabulous protagonist as her list of losers dwindle and her asides to her best friend are humorous and insightful. Inigo is a typical rake who uses deception to get through the season without a wife. Fans will enjoy their battles as neither anticipated love would lead them to such a mess as both wants the engagement to be real, but cannot admit it because they want to protect their hearts from being broken. --- Harriet Klausner