Author: Madeline Hunter
His rules will teach her the most sensual seductions and pleasures.
Her rules will bring him to his knees.
He enters her home without warning or invitation—a stranger of shadowy motives and commanding charisma. Within hours, Alexia Welbourne is penniless, without any hope of marriage. Until Hayden Rothwell takes her innocence in one impulsive act of passion. Society’s rules of seduction force Alexia to marry the very man who has ruined her family. What Alexia doesn't know is that her masterful, sensual new husband is driven by a secret purpose and bears a dark debt of honor. He will risk anything, give everything, to repay it. Except, he discovers, the woman who starts playing by her own rules.
I think that the synopsis is a little misleading.
First, it wasn't as though Hayden just took Alexia's innocence, as Alexia was eager to give it. Second, there was no forced marriage, it was very consensual.
The Rules of Seduction begins with the hero, Hayden Rothwell, entering to the home in which Alexia lives with her cousins' to speak with her cousin, Tim. After Hayden's departure, Tim informs his two sisters and Alexia that they have been put in ruin by Hayden and are now being forced to move back to the country. Little does Alexia and her two cousins know that Tim is the real reason for their misfortune and that Hayden actually allowed Tim to use him as the reason for the sake of his sisters.
Upon learning that they are being evicted, Alexia decides she will not be going with her cousins to their home in the country. Alexia is the poor relation and she feels it is best if she stays behind, so as not to be another mouth to feed. Hayden learns of Alexia's dilemma and offers her the opportunity to become governess to his niece, and companion to his aunt, both of whom are moving into the home that Alexia lived in with her cousins. Without any other sensible options available to her, Alexia reluctantly accepts.
Being reduced to a servant in the home she once lived in with her cousins' is hard for Alexia. What is also hard for her is her growing attraction to Hayden, the man she thinks responsible for her family's misfortune. Hayden is also drawn to Alexia. He finds her practical stance on life fascinating. He has never met a woman like Alexia before, and the attraction he feels towards her leaves him torn. He wants to act on this attraction but he knows doing so will ruin what little social station Alexia has left. So what happens? They give into their passion for each other, of course--which leads to a marriage between the two.
Hayden and Alexia's marriage is a double edge sword. While they are extremely attracted to each other, they both have issues with the other. Alexia is not able to let her resentment towards Hayden, for his part in her cousins' downfall, go. And Hayden is bothered by the fact that Alexia is still harboring feelings for her dead cousin, Benjamin, years after his death. He feels like Alexia will never love him the way she did Benjamin.
On top of their marital problems there is a bit of a mystery surrounding Alexia's family going on. Needless to say, Alexia and Hayden have a long road to a true happy ending.
I really liked The Rules of Seduction. It was a quick read with just the right amount of passion, suspense and love to keep me on the edge of my seat, eager to find out what would happen. The motivations of the characters were clear, I was never at a loss for why any of them did what they did. Whether their actions done in the name of self preservation, greed, lust, honor, love ... I understood. The relationship between the Alexia and Hayden was realistic, their internal struggle; real, and I felt that they both experienced character growth on their way to finding love. Grade A-