Rules of Passion

Rules of Passion

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by Sara Bennett

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The boldest, most unconventional of the three Greentree sisters, Marietta believes her best course would be to emulate her natural mother, the notorious courtesan Madame Aphrodite. Being woefully unschooled in the ways of passion, however, Marietta, at Aphrodite's insistence, must first prove herself by properly seducing one man: Max Valland, the moody, disgraced,


The boldest, most unconventional of the three Greentree sisters, Marietta believes her best course would be to emulate her natural mother, the notorious courtesan Madame Aphrodite. Being woefully unschooled in the ways of passion, however, Marietta, at Aphrodite's insistence, must first prove herself by properly seducing one man: Max Valland, the moody, disgraced, anddisinherited former Lord Roseby.

With his life and reputation already in tatters, Max is most willing to help the exquisite young minx practice her chosen craft—though he is surprised at the depth of his desire . . . and by her most unprofessional tenderness. But Marietta's plans are threatened by the dangerous mysteries swirling around this disarmingly sensual gentleman . . . and by a heart that urges her to break the courtesan's cardinal rule: never fall in love.

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HarperCollins Publishers
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Greentree Sisters , #2
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Rules of Passion

Chatper One

Vauxhall Gardens, London

The gas-filled balloon bobbed sluggishly in the breeze, as if seeking to escape its tethers, reaching toward the distant blue sky. The wicker basket, fastened to the balloon by an iron band and cords, appeared smaller than she remembered, while the crowd gathering to watch the ascent appeared larger.

Marietta wasn't afraid.

No, not at all. She was exhilarated!

She had been planning this outing all week, ever since she had come to Vauxhall Gardens with Mr. Jardine, and for the first time seen a balloon ascent over London. Her breath had caught in sheer wonder and she had begged Mr. Jardine to allow her to pay her money and become a passenger. But he had refused even to contemplate it.

"What would your mother, Lady Greentree, say if I allowed you to do something so dangerous?"

"She would understand that fear has no place in our new world of science and discovery."

"That's all very well, Miss Marietta, but it doesn't alter my decision. You're a single young lady and it would not be proper—

"Psht!" It was a sound she had heard Aphrodite make—Aphrodite the famous courtesan and her real mother. "What does that matter? My reputation is already in tatters, you know that as well as I. If it wasn't ruined long ago by being one of Aphrodite's daughters, then it was certainly ruined by Gerard Jones."

"Your sister Vivianna doesn't believe that for a moment—

"Then she is deluding herself, Mr. Jardine. Vivianna believes she can make everyone better, but shecan't repair me. I am ruined and there is no chance I will ever make a good marriage. I have resigned myself to it. Going up in a gas balloon can make no possible difference to that plain fact."

"Whether or not that is so, I won't let you put your life in danger in one of those...those contraptions, Miss Marietta!"

However Marietta was not the sort of girl to be easily thwarted when she had made up her mind about something. At home in Yorkshire, at Greentree Manor, she and her sisters had been allowed a great deal of freedom—to her own cost, unfortunately—and although Marietta knew that things were different in London, she could not see the point of being fettered. Especially when it could make no possible difference to her prospects of finding a suitor, which were already nil.

Vivianna was lucky, she had Oliver, and she had love, but Marietta had destroyed her chances of emulating her sister when she had tried to run off with Gerard Jones. She had wept long and hard when they brought her back to Greentree Manor, not so much for Gerard, whom by then she had realized was a lying rogue, but for her own lack of foresight. Time had resigned her to her fate as the "scandalous Greentree sister"—no matter how interested a man was in her, he soon faded away when he learned of her past. She may wish it was otherwise, that love conquered all, but she was no longer such an innocent as she had been. Love did not conquer all, in fact love was more often than not the crux of the problem.

However all was not lost.She may never live a cozy life as Lord Somebody's wife, but she still had a life to live. Why shouldn't she experience everything it had to offer, and without the fear of exposing her vulnerable heart once more?Marietta had a plan, and she hoped, very soon, to put it into practice.

At the Vauxhall Gardens, she had waited until Mr. Jardine became interested in one of the displays, and then given him the slip, claiming she had dropped her glove and must return for it. "I'll only be a moment," she'd promised. "You go on and I'll catch you up."She'd hurried back to the balloon to have a word with the ticket seller. A ticket tucked safely into her drawstring bag, Marietta had returned to her companion.

Now she recalled what the ticket seller had said. "It's at your own risk,miss. As long as you realize that."

"I do," she had replied firmly.

"Then be here same time next week, and if the weather permits, you can go up with Mr. Keith."

"Mr. Keith?"

"The aeronaught, miss. Don't you listen to them what says Mr. Green's the best aeronaught in England -- I'd leifer go up with Mr. Keith any day!" The lad had said it with a smile.

People, Marietta found, usually did smile at her. Perhaps it had something to dowithherpetite stature, or her bouncing blond curls, or her open face and big blue eyes. Outwardly she was transparently honest in the joy she gained from life, and people gravitated towards her because of it.

Until they discovered shewasruined,shereminded herself bitterly -- then they were quick to avoid her.

"Such people aren't worth knowing," her sister Francesca had said in an attempt to make her feel better. "Your true friends will never desert you."

Francesca was younger than Marietta by only a year, but in appearance and character they were very different: Francesca tall and dark; Marietta small and fair. Francesca was intense and serious, whereas Marietta was, outwardly at least, all light and laughter. But they were close despite all that, and she wished that Francesca had agreed to leave her moors behind and come to London. Her sister had a way of comforting her—of making the truth seem not so bad.

The balloon awaited her, and this time she wasn't about to be left behind on the ground, oh no. This time she'd be up there, in the sky, looking down.

Marietta hurried forward, and the crowd parted for her. The aeronaught, a man of about forty with graying dark hair and lush side-whiskers, was making some last-moment adjustments. He looked up, distracted by the crowd's murmur, and the lad who had sold her the ticket leaned closer and murmured something in his ear.

Rules of Passion. Copyright © by Sara Bennett. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Sara Bennett has always had an interest in history, and to survive a series of mind-numbing jobs, she turned to writing historical romance. She lives in an old house, with her husband and animals too numerous to mention, in the state of Victoria, Australia, where she tries to keep the house and garden tidy, but rarely succeeds—she'd rather be writing or reading.

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Rules of Passion 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I recently selected Sara Bennett's 'Rules of Passion' to read as I was looking for a new author in the historical romance area and thought the history behind the author and the critics reviews were good. I did not see another general person like me giving feedback so, I bought the book and will give you my thoughts. I found out upon reading this book that it is actually part of a series of books on the Slater sisters - Vivianna, Francesca and Marietta. Vivianna's story is told in 'Lessons in Seduction', Marietta's in this book and the author is apparently at work on Francesca's story. I am going to buy the 2nd and 3rd books as I really liked this first one. She made the heroine of the story -Marietta very enjoyable. Not only was she not a virgin (lost that to her first love - not a worthy man of course) and so, she feels her chances of a normal life are gone so...she acts and says what she wants to and that makes her very appealing to everyone. She is charming, witty, vivacious and fun. People can't resist her charm. In turn, her family is diverse and intersting and make for fun sub characters - her adopted mother, her real mother the courtesan Aphrodite, Marietta's two sisters and even some of the people at the brothel. Then there is Max - our handsome but, sad hero. He is clearly down on his luck when the two of them meet as he learned he was not who he thought he was. Thus...conflicts arise in his family as well. Fortunately, events seem to throw Max and Marietta together and their chemistry can't seem to wait. They find a way to learn about each other, help one another out (sometimes to Max's frustration) and inevitably end up making love (again, again and again). The intimate scences were well written, interesting and enjoyable (especially as they meet in different ways and have different techniques to master as required by Marietta's courtesan mother). I am confident you will enjoy the story line to this book and the characters that are developed. It's a fun story with a bit of a twist at the end which is always enjoyable - you don't want everything to be as expected. Fortunately, good things do happen to good people and you want that for Marietta and Max. Definately buy this book - it's a wonderful read for those who enjoy strong characters, warm love scences and a fun plot. Happy reading!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
2_PMVH More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. Mariette (I love this name) was a girl who was used and abused by "true love" by a cruel man who left her after he got what he wanted. That is hard on any girl but back in the 1800s it was worse. She was RUINED in the eyes of society. Since Mariette would not risk her heart again she decides to become a courtesan like her birth mother Madame Aphrodite. Max has been disinherited by his father the duke. He has been raised as the next duke but his father found a letter from Max's mom saying that the duke is not his father. He is suddenly has no purpose so he decide to make himself his purpose for once. SARA BENNETT¿ makes these two meet in the most daring and original way, a hot air balloon ride. As think back I realize their relationship was like that ride. Up and down. Aphrodite see a way to make both of these people happy. She tells Mariette that she should use Max as a entry into her new courtesan life. Max agree to it so he can make Mariette realize life as a courtesan is not for her. This story has unexplained accidents, one pissed off duke, a scheming cousin, a killer named Slipper and not 1 but 2 love stories. I give this book 4 fingers up and 8 toes.
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harstan More than 1 year ago
The three Slater sisters are ecstatic over meeting their long lost biological mother Aphrodite Greentree (see LESSONS IN SEDUCTION), who they were separated from years ago when they were small children. Aphrodite runs a successful brothel so must be discrete with her beloved now adult children so as to not hurt their chances for a good match. Her oldest child stalked her beloved in Aphrodite¿s brothel. Now her middle daughter Marietta wants to become a courtesan just like her natural mother was and asks her to train her in the art of seduction --- Madame Aphrodite hopes to persuade her daughter that this is not a way of life for her, but feels she must do so with stealth as she herself has had a good life as a courtesan. Thus she promises to take Marietta on as an apprentice, but first her daughter must survive a test of fire. She must seduce the posterboy of scandals Max Valland, a morose and disinherited aristocrat. Max accepts his dissipated role, but he finds he cannot have enough of the tyro she in turn breaks the courtesan¿s maxim of never falling in love with the bill payer. --- The second Slater saga is a fabulous Victorian romance starring the wildest of the three sisters and an outcast aristocrat anticipating a tryst that turns the three RULES OF PASSION, as both understand them now, upside down when their hearts enter the equation. ¿Naughty¿ Marietta and ¿mad¿ Max are an enchanting pairing while the support cast brings out the worst in both of them to the delight of readers. Fans will look forward to the tale of the youngest sibling as Sara Bennett livens up the sub-genre. --- Harriet Klausner