Book Review: Rules for Engaging the Earl by Janna MacGregor

About the Book:

Title: Rules for Engaging the Earl

Author: Janna MacGregor

Series: The Widow Rules

Page Length: 384

Publication Date: April 26, 2022

Publisher: St. Martin’s Paperbacks

Synopsis: Get ready for lost wills, broody dukes, and scorching hot kissing all over London.

Constance Lysander needs a husband. Or, so society says. She’s about to give birth to her late husband’s child―a man who left her with zero money, and two other wives she didn’t know about. Thankfully, she has her Aunt by her side, and the two other wives have become close friends. But still―with a baby on the way, her shipping business to run, and an enemy skulking about, she has no time to find the perfect match.

Enter Jonathan, Earl of Sykeston. Returned war hero and Constance’s childhood best friend, his reentry into society has been harsh. Maligned for an injury he received in the line of duty, Jonathan prefers to stay out of sight. It’s the only way to keep his heart from completely crumbling. But when a missive from Constance requests his presence―to their marriage ceremony―Jonathan is on board. His feelings for Constance run deep, and he’ll do anything to make her happy, though it means risking his already bruised heart.

With Constance, Jonathan, and the new baby all together, it’s clear the wounds―both on the surface and in their relationship―run deep. But when the nights come, their wounds begin to heal, and both come to realize that their marriage of convenience is so much more than just a bargain.

LINKS:   Goodreads   |    Amazon

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My Review:

Constance Lysander, pregnant and about to give birth, needs to marry immediately to preserve her and her child’s reputation. She reaches out to her childhood best friend Jonathan for help even though she hasn’t seen him since he enlisted in the military a decade ago. Jonathan isn’t the same man he once was, but when Constance asks for his hand in marriage, he agrees. Can these long-ago friends find happiness together after all the trials and tribulations they’ve faced?

Rules for Engaging the Earl is a lovely childhood friends-to-lovers, second-chance historical romance. The characters are layered and dynamic, the themes are poignant, and the love story is slow-building and wonderful. The story begins with a flashback to Constance and Jonathan right before he leaves for military service. This is such a great scene and shows how deep and true their feelings for each other are. Constance and Jonathan share a life-long bond, and that bond is solid even years after last seeing each other.

Jonathan is a broken man who does not feel worthy of love. A recluse in his country home, Jonathan faces questions about his actions while in service, and he’s struggling with a war-time injury and the emotional and physical disabilities he received during the war. Jonathan doesn’t want to be a burden, and he fears breaking Constance’s heart if the military accusations come to fruition. Though he has always loved Constance, he holds her and his future happiness at arm’s length. Luckily for him, Constance is determined to break through all of the walls he put up.

I love Constance! She’s been through so much and faced insurmountable obstacles, yet she remains steadfast and resilient. I love her determination, her sincerity, and her kindness. She’s the type of person who will do anything for the people she loves, and she proves this when with Jonathan. I love this couple and so wanted them to find their happiness together. Both Constance and Jonathan have had a lot of tragedy in their lives, and their relationship often suffers because of past trauma and fears. Miscommunication, self-sabotage, secrets, and more stand in the way of their happiness, and I enjoyed seeing them try to find their way back to each other.

Themes of friendship, family, redemption, preserving one’s reputation, and fighting for those you love are prevalent throughout the novel, and I love the development of an unlikely found family. All three women who were married to the same man, each of whom are the focus of the novels in this series, become each other’s strongest supporters, and their relationship is a lovely result of a terrible situation. There are other great secondary characters too, including Constance’s adorable daughter, Jonathan’s butler, and Regina, the ever-loyal and incredibly large dog. I love that all of these people, and even the dog, contribute to Jonathan and Constance’s story.

The story also has a bit of intrigue, as Jonathan must prove his innocence, and Constance is still trying to learn more about her mysterious, deceased husband. It was interesting to see how these situations developed and were resolved, and I’m curious to see how some of these situations continue to unravel and develop as the series continues.

This is a great addition to The Widow Rules series and one I was eager to read since reading the final pages of the previous book. I would definitely recommend the book and the series to historical romance readers, and I’m excited to read Beth’s story in the next book!

Special thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a copy of the book. All thoughts are my own.


Favorite Parts:

  • The romance!
  • The characters.
  • The themes.

Favorite Lines:

He could lose himself in the blue depth of her eyes and never want to be found.

She’s the sea. I’m the debris. To be swept away in her arms would be my salvation.


Want to learn more about the series? Check out my review of the first book!

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