by Wilma Counts

May 2002
ISBN: 0-821-77043-8
Reviewer Graphic Button Zebra Books
Mass Market Paperback

When Rachel Cameron was coerced into marriage with an officer during the Peninsula war at the age of 17, she resolved to make the best of it, even if she didnít feel as though she knew her husband, Edwin Brady, that well. Four years later, her marriage wasnít all that she expected it to be, mainly because of her husbandís tendency to slap her occasionally and his not-so honorable wartime practices, but Rachel still wanted to be a good, faithful wife.

When Major Lord Jacob Forrester was seriously wounded and sent to the hospital were Rachel volunteered, no one expected him to live. In fact, the surgeon in charge didnít even want Rachel to waste her time treating him, but something about Major Forrester and the loyalty displayed by his men moved Rachel, so she asked permission to have him taken to the quarters her and Edwin shared. While caring for the Major, he and Rachel became friends, and Jacob swore that he would repay Rachel for saving his life. Jacob soon had that opportunity when he learned that Edwin was planning on auctioning Rachel off to the highest bidder to rid himself of his wife!

One major complaint I have about Rules of Marriage is that for the first half of the book, Rachel is married to Edwin and we basically only read about their tumultuous marriage, with very little concerning Jacob. While I understand the need to set up the plot, it seems as though it could have been accomplished using less time so the readers could enjoy more of the love story between Rachel and Jacob. Additionally, after Jacob ďpurchasesĒ Rachel, they are still separated for a significant amount of time with only a considerably short length of the novel devoted to them together.

If you enjoy historical detail, you will love Rules of Marriage as it abounds with many specific accounts regarding the war against Napoleon's armies. The reader will learn much about life on the campaign trail and the trials and hardships that many had to endure just to have enough to eat and have sufficient clothing to wear. On the other hand, if that doesnít sound like your cup of tea, you might want to skip this one.

As characters, Rachel and Jacob are likeable enough, with realistic emotions and reactions. Ms. Counts took the time to delve into their backgrounds enough for the reader to understand why they reacted the way they did at times, especially with Rachelís husband, Edwin. Rachel and Jacob had much in common and the same interests, but unfortunately, between their separation and the amount of time devoted to the war, we donít have the privilege of seeing them together enough to really judge their compatibility or the strength of their love for one another.

Reviewed in November 2002 by Nicole.

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