A Fierce, Modern, and Swoony Marriage of Convenience Romance
“If her optimism ever met his realism, Jonathan would be hard-pressed to say which was stronger or more virulent.”
Rules for Engaging the Earl by Janna MacGregor isn’t just a marriage of convenience between characters Constance Lysander and Earl Jonathan Sykeston. It’s also a childhood friends to lovers romance, a slow burn romance with tons of spice, and a redemption story all in one. This is a romance that is filled with unspoken feelings, a lot of determination, and a heroine who honestly could rule a country and do very well for herself.
Constance is smart, determined, capable, and full of both empathy as well as kindness. She’s a wonderful mother, friend, and a devoted and trusting wife. However, due to the circumstances regarding her recently deceased husband, Constance looks to her childhood best friend and first love, Jonathan Sykeston to marry her and provide stability as well as security to herself and her newborn daughter.
“He’d never seen her more beautiful. Like a siren demanding his downfall. He would go down without a fight as long as she continued to kiss him like he was the only thing she needed.”
Jonathan Sykeston is dealing with his demons. Once a highly regarded sharpshooter and marksman in service for the Crown, he now faces his injury to his leg, a court-martial, and his reputation in ruins thanks to a nefarious fellow officer. Jonathan takes a lot to heart, and the fact that he isn’t the same physically, affects him deeply both mentally and emotionally. His character arc and transformation proves that the love and determination of his friends and family can do wonders for a person with mental illness.
While Jonathan cannot refuse anything his childhood friend and now wife requests of him, he simply cannot get over how far he has fallen from the man he once thought he was. His beastly temper makes this story into a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, but in this tale Constance is progressive and modern: a businesswoman, mother, and desperate for her husband to see the good in himself.
Even though Jonathan attempts—though feebly—to push Constance away in an attempt to remain surly and alone, it is Aurelia that eventually wins over Jonathan. Who can resist a baby? Constance is also determined to make Jonathan see and feel the strength of her love, and she does not take no for an answer! I love how forthright she is about her physical needs…if you catch my drift. The intimate scenes between Constance and Jonathan are the perfect amount of spice.
“Jonathan shot his butler a death glare. Every single person in the room knew what the old man was up to. A butler impersonating a busybody matchmaker.”
I even loved the “busybody matchmaker” of a butler. Mr. North is an incredibly lovable character and I adored his romanticism and determination. Mr. North is constantly the source of good advice, fatherly love and affection, and honestly one of the bright spots in the story. He’s a delightful character and evens out all of the drama that occurs on page for both Jonathan and Constance.
This was my first book by Janna MacGregor and I know it will be the first of many. Rules for Engaging the Earl is part of a series, however this can easily be read as a standalone. Be sure to grab your copy today as it is available now!
Jes is a self-proclaimed bookworm, who recently moved from the PNW back to the Midwest. When her nose isn’t in a book, she’s spending time with her husband, two kids, and her three fur babies, or exploring the globe. She also firmly believes that you should start the day with coffee, and end the day in bed with a good book.