RULES OF ENGAGEMENT by Tracy Cooper-Posey

Scandalous Scions Book 8.0

Victorian Era Historical Romance Novel

More books by Tracy Cooper-Posey
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They loved each other before she died. Now she can’t remember why.

Lady Eleanore Neville, sister to the Duke of Gainford, was thought to have been lost at sea. Miraculously, she was rescued, only now her life is empty of meaning. She reaches for steadily more risqué entertainment and company in an effort to find it.

Cian, Earl of Innesford and the head of the Williams family, whom the Nevilles openly despise, has loved Eleanore for years. He hovers on the edge of Eleanore’s life, helping the Duke curtail the worst of Eleanore’s excesses, despite knowing there is no hope of his beloved Ellie ever truly being his.

The delicate balance begins to unravel when Cian discovers a nude portrait of Eleanore in a public gallery and is forced to act…

Rules of Engagement is the eighth book in the Scandalous Scions series, bringing together the members of three great families, to love and play under the gaze of the Victorian era’s moralistic, straight-laced society.

Reader Advisory: This story contains frank sex scenes and sexual language.

This story is part of the Scandalous Scions series:
0.5 Rose of Ebony
1.0 Soul of Sin
2.0 Valor of Love
3.0 Marriage of Lies

3.5 Scandalous Scions Boxed Set One
4.0 Mask of Nobility
5.0 Law of Attraction
6.0 Veil of Honor

6.5 Scandalous Scions Boxed Set Two
7.0 Season of Denial
8.0 Rules of Engagement
9.0 Degree of Solitude

9.5 Scandalous Scions Boxed Set Three
10.0 Ashes of Pride
11.0 Risk of Ruin

12.0 Year of Folly
13.0 Queen of Hearts

13.5 Scandalous Scions Boxed Set Four
A Sexy Historical Romance Series

This series is also available as a Special Bundle

{Also see: Romance, Historical Romance, Novels}

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Rules of Engagement
Average rating:  
 9 reviews
 by Cyndi Lamascola
My favorite

I Just finished Rules of Engagement. This one was my favorite in the series. No wait...!. I have said that after finishing each book in Tracy Cooper-Posey's Scandalous Scions series! I just can't chose. Each one is as good as the first. Get them all!!!

 by Joyce cole

Tracy I have just finished rules of engagement, what a fabulous writer you are, looking forward to the next one. Wishing you and yours a happy new year.

 by IngSav
Edge of my seat and heart in my mouth until that glorious HEA!

It was delightful getting to know these strong and worldly characters. Tracy Cooper-Posey has a writing style that is succinct and yet you are drawn to the personalities and their gradually revealed revelations.

They didn’t NEED each other but they had a strong bond and an understanding of each other’s quirks and foibles that make each of them a supportive friend.

The heat and sexual chemistry between these characters builds from still waters, to slow simmer and then on to steamy conflagration in a very believable is Victorian times after all and the sexual simmer that boils over behind closed doors is a delicious contrast to public appearances!

As is typical of Victorian times the circumstances of others’ wishes and pressure from family had more to do with their relationship stand off than their own wishes. The story moves through the unfolding circumstances of their ongoing stalled relationship without unnecessary dramatics and yet we are drawn in, trying to figure out how there can possibly be a happy ending!

Surprises and unexpected revelations make the whole novel an interesting and delightful addition to the Scandalous Scions series.

I highly recommend each and every one of the books in this series and take great delight in revisiting family from the previous novels throughout each additional novel.

 by Glenys
Rules of engagement

Just wow, at last these two get together in a most fascinating way, each book in this series is a compelling read, and what I love about the series is each story is complete, but still leaves you wondering and expecting what’s next.

 by Dina Bushrod
An emotional story of love and how and why rules must sometimes be broken

Each book in this series leaves me with the thought "this one is by far the best one"; wrong again. The author has given us such a strong emotional story of loss by death but brought back by sheer will of strength. I will not give spoilers for I feel that would be an injustice to you, the reader. I want you to feel the despair of loss and the discovery of helpless joy and longing. You will meet characters of such strength that they believe there is no choice but to be honorable to the past. But first one of them must live life at it's fullest in order to feel "alive". Patience, protectiveness, hidden love, all this you'll read. Then "the family" will show love matters more than anything else, but our characters must also believe this. Towards the end I felt great joy, then just one chapter away I was filled with tears and sadness at choices made because of "doing the honorable thing". Tracy Cooper Posey takes us on an emotional rollercoaster ride. You MUST read this book and take the ride along with those of us that have read it. The best book in the series, or is it? Well for me, I'll know when I read the next one.

 by Beatriz
A sea trip... and more

Rules of engagement is the 8th instalment in the Scandalous Scions series.This is the story of Eleanore and Cian. They've known each other for years but Eleanore lose her memories in an accident. This is the story of how two soulmates rencountered each other despite the adversities because, you know, love conquers all 😉
What I liked as well as this is a wonderfully crafted story is the fact of being able to catching up with the rest of the big family and how they've grown in their own way. This is an incredibly big series but it still amazes me how fresh it remains. You rock Tracy, can't wait for the next one!

 by Kathi Soniat
The Power of Hope – Exceptional Story!!

Lady Eleanore and Cian are in love; until she is presumed lost at sea. She is rescued, but has lost all memory of Cian. As she has been betrothed since the age of three, and her family hates Cian’s family she does not allow a rekindling of their relationship. She does however search for meaning in some rather “unladylike” pursuits.

Cian continues to keep an eye on Eleanore and works to mitigate the impacts of Eleanore’s exploits. A debilitating fear, an unwelcome suitor and “worse” all bring Eleanore closer to Cian. When she spends time with his unusual family; they accept her as she is, and welcome her special skills in cricket and embrace her connection to Cian.

Family and society expectations play a bigger role than ever in this splendid story of remaining steadfast as long as there is any hope alive. The reader feels as though they are a part of this outstanding family in the Victorian era as they are immersed in this romantic story.

 by Audrey Cienki
Rules of Engagement - Great Story

I just love Tracy’s exactitude when writing historical novels. The settings, customs, clothes and even actual events bring this story (and her others) to life.
The characters themselves are well thought out and their actions are consistent with their character. I found myself emphasizing with Eleanore and Cian’s predicament. And what a great resolution to their story!

 by Heather Baxter

This was another one of those brilliant reads you just can't wait to get to the end of. It's unbelievable to try & imagine how people had to live in times where they thought honour was the done thing to live by, but so rarely followed. Love also took its course very slowly over pen & paper then the eventual meet & it was a bang! Not like today's standards.
Then when you have what we should call the blaggards of the day who tried to ruin things for the lovers & the family behind them. I was so glad they weren't in it for too long I'd have got too angry too soon to be able to read on.
At least her brother came up trump's before having his misfortune come about him.
A real enjoyment to read Tracy, thanks for another great book.

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Cian waited for the door to close once more then gripped Eleanore’s bare arm.  “I’m taking you home,” he told her, “to make sure Cokes isn’t lingering about the entrance for you to emerge.”

“I’m not ready to leave, yet,” Eleanore replied, as Cian drew her toward the door.

“It is past midnight and you’ve won enough.  I have something to discuss with you.”

Eleanore gave up.  He was right.  It was late.  “What are you doing here, Cian?” she demanded.

“I came looking for you.  James told me you were not at home.”

“I didn’t tell him where I was going.  How did you guess?”

“It was my fourth guess,” Cian said grimly.   “I would have been here sooner, otherwise.”  He moved across the foyer and gestured with his hand to the footman there.  The man hurried away.

Cian let her arm go and studied her.  “You owe me one hundred pounds.”

Eleanore smiled and held out her purse.  “Here you are, then.”

He didn’t smile.  There was little warmth in his eyes, either.

“What have I done now?” she asked lightly, stringing the chain of the purse back over her satin-encased wrist.

“You don’t know?”

Eleanore’s smile formed by itself.  “There’s a rather long list of possibilities, especially if I include everything which vexes you and no one else.”

The footman appeared with her fur cloak and held it out so she could step into it.  Cian hooked all four buttons closed.  “It is cold out there,” he added, when she lifted a brow.   He stepped back and waved toward the door.

Eleanore lifted her chin and moved past him to the door.

“The cab on the left,” Cian said behind her, as she stepped down to the footpath.  The paving was silver with frost.

He moved passed her, opened the cab door and waited for her, then handed her into the carriage.  She heard him speaking to the driver, then he stepped in and settled on the seat opposite.  He never sat next to her.  She had stopped suggesting he do so.

As the cab moved away from the club, Eleanore shivered.  It really was cold.

“Your brother came down from Durham for parliament next week,” Cian said.  “Why did you come?  You should be sitting by the fire at Gainford House.”

“I was bored,” Eleanore told him.  “When James said he was coming down early, I wanted to go with him.  So everyone decided they would, too.”  She wrinkled her nose.  “Which didn’t help me get away from them at all.”

Cian didn’t smile.  Of course he didn’t, for this was not the Cian she knew.  The Cian she had come to know from the thick pages he had sent her every week for three years wasn’t dour and proper and sensible.  The Cian she knew loved the sea and yearned to be out upon it, or in it.

Before the thought of heaving waves reduced her to panic, Eleanore grasped for the next difference between the Cian before her and the one she knew.  Cian liked his brandy.  He liked parties.  He liked arguing—lord, the scraps and fights he had got into at Cambridge!  They were legendary.  Even James had heard of them, and James had studied at Oxford.

Everything about that other Cian spoke of temperament, emotions, a love of life.

Where had he gone?

The woman she had once been had loved him for that outrageous embrace of life and everything in it.  Eleanore knew that because she had read the words formed in her own handwriting—confessions of love and fealty, of desperate longing.  She even remembered writing the words, in a hazy and distant sort of way.

Only, none of those feelings surfaced, now.   They would be in the way if they did.

Cian rested his hand against the frame of the window he peered through.  He watched the well-known streets of Mayfair slide by to avoid looking at her.   “Did you find what you sought tonight, Eleanore?”

Eleanore thought of the way her pulse had jumped when Cokes lunged for the money.  Until that moment, her heart had beat as steadily and drearily as it always did.  Winning card games had stopped being fun.  The rush of energy she felt when she won no longer came to her.  “I might have, if you hadn’t interrupted,” she said shortly.

Cian’s gaze slid toward her.  “You have grown cynical and weary, haven’t you?  It takes a man’s assault to let you feel anything at all?”  He shook his head.

“If you had taken me to Algeria, then I wouldn’t be looking for fun in all the wrong places,” she pointed out, for that was still a sore point.

“It was family business,” Cian said shortly.

“It was something new and different,” she replied.  “I could have helped your sister, too.”

Cian’s gaze settled back on her face.  “A three day journey across winter seas, Eleanore?  You won’t step foot on the Natasha Marie even when she’s tied up dockside.”

Eleanore shuddered.  “I had forgotten you went by sea,” she admitted.  Then, because talk of winter seas made her gut churn and her heart to beat hard enough to make her throat ache, she jumped to something else—anything, to shift the conversation.  “Why do you want to speak to me, Cian?”

“Sidney Gordie Strange,” he said flatly.  His gaze pinned her to the seat.

Delight filled her.  “You saw the picture!  Oh, that’s wonderful, Cian.  What did you think of it?  He’s very talented, isn’t he?”

Cian pushed his hand through his hair.  “For God’s sake, Ellie, you were naked!  What on earth were you thinking?”

Eleanore blinked.  “What has that got to do with it?”

Everything!” he cried.  His hand curled into a fist.  “If anyone beside my sister has seen the picture and talks about it, your reputation will be utterly ruined–”

“Oh, my reputation,” she breathed, irritation flaring.

“It’s important you maintain your reputation as a woman of good character–”

“Why?” she shot back.  “Tell me why I should give a fig what people think of me?  It won’t change a damn thing about my life!”

Cian gripped his hands together.  She could see he was growing angry, too.  “We’ve spoken about this so many times–”

“No, you lecture and I have to listen to it.  God, you’re so impossibly stuffy and hypocritical, Cian.  What happened to make you like this?”

Her insults didn’t seem to move him, despite his anger.  He simply studied her, his gaze boring into her and through her.  “You cannot go on forever looking for adventure.  I will not always be around to buy oil paintings and shove cads out the door for you.”

“You bought it?” she breathed.

He pushed his hand through his hair again.  His thick, curly hair…it was soft to touch, she knew.  She could remember the feel of it between her fingers.  But that was from before.

As he opened his mouth to speak once more, she said crisply, “I don’t require you rescue me every time something happens.  I had the situation in hand tonight, just as I did the last time a man accused me of cheating.”

“You punched the last man in the face!” Cian cried, throwing his hand out, as if it was a perfect example of his argument.

“He withdrew his accusation, too,” she replied.

Cian closed his eyes and blew out his breath.

“Perhaps you shouldn’t have taught me how to punch properly,” she added.

He laughed.  It was short and hard, as if it had pushed out of him involuntarily.  “What am I to do with you?” he murmured.

Eleanore let out her breath, as relief touched her middle.  She didn’t like Cian being angry with her, although she didn’t know why she should care—anger was one of the very few emotions she ever saw on his face anymore.  It was better than the emotionless expression he usually wore.

She picked up her train, shifted over to the bench beside him and looked up at him.  “That’s better,” she said softly and touched his face.  She slid her fingers into his hair.

Yes, it was as soft as the other Eleanore remembered.

Her heart fluttered.  She slid her thumb over his cheekbone, which was high and fine and firm.  That felt nice, too.

She only realized she was leaning toward him when Cian grasped her shoulder and held her still.  His expression was bleak.  “No,” he said softly.

“Why not?” she breathed.

He didn’t answer.

She pulled her hand away, her heart working far too hard and not from pleasure.  “Two kisses,” she said bitterly.  “And none since I came back from that place.  What harm can kisses possibly do?”

Cian leaned into the corner, putting further distance between them.  “Your mother, if you listened to her anymore, would tell you that kisses are the most dangerous weapon a man can use against a woman.”

She scowled.

It didn’t move him.  Cian’s gaze remained steady.  “You only want a kiss or anything that comes after a kiss, because it is a new way to make you feel anything at all.  I won’t be a part of your great experiment to find meaning in your life, Eleanore.”

Bitterness touched her.  “You know me too well.”

The carriage stopped and Cian sat up.  “I do,” he said quietly.

The footman opened the door.  Eleanore moved past Cian and onto the footpath.  She looked up at the big, sand-colored house and sighed.

Home, again.

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